Quality Grading

Quality Grading - by VisitBritain, VisitScotland, VisitWales and Failte Ireland

To be featured on this website all cottages must have met their appropriate UK’s National Tourist Boards’ minimum 4 Star Grade. All cottages are inspected annually where as many ‘Agencies’ participating in a Tourist Board grading scheme have opted to have their cottages inspected every other year. The only exception for inclusion within this website is for newly created or upgraded cottages that are shown as ‘Awaiting Grading’. However, to be featured they must have applied to their National Tourist Board for a grading inspection and satisfied Premier Cottages that the property will be awarded a grade of at least 4 Stars. If for any reason a cottage’s grading changes during the year, Premier Cottages will use its best endeavours to ensure its new grade will be shown.



Cottage graded 5 stars - exceptional quality - by its National Tourist Board

Cottage graded 4 stars - excellent quality - by its National Tourist Board



Cottage graded 4 or 5 stars - excellent quality - by its Failte Ireland





There are three elements to the process that results in a quality grade or rating.

Step 1 - A Tourist Board Assessor quality scores each cottage,

Step 2 - The Assessor then checks that certain elements of the cottage meet what’s called “Sectional Qualifiers” in terms of quality.

Step 3 – Finally the Assessor checks that the facility requirements, appropriate to the Star rating, are present.

STEP 1: Each inspection visit begins with a Quality Assessor carrying out a subjective, qualitative assessment of every aspect of each cottage, starting with the Exterior of the building, including the grounds and any parking, before assessing the entire interior.
Essentially, a numerical score is given to every aspect assessed and that score equates to a quality level description. A scale of 1 to 5 is used, so if something is of ‘Excellent’ to ‘Exceptional’ quality, it gets a top score of 5, and if something is of ‘Very Good’ to ‘Excellent’ quality, it gets a score of 4. In order to remove any bias, Tourist Board Assessors are rigorously trained and follow set guidelines and instructions. The different points value signify ascending levels of quality like this:

Excellent to Exceptional quality - 5 points
Very Good to Excellent quality - 4 points
Good to Very Good quality - 3 points
Fair to Good quality - 2 points
Acceptable quality - 1 point

Once a report form is completed and scores have all been allocated, they are totaled, and a percentage score for the quality of the whole cottage is calculated. By looking at the Star banding percentage range, the Quality Assessor gets an initial indication of what the overall Star rating might be:


Star Rating

Overall % required

Cleanliness must be


                   34% - 47%



                   48% - 59%



                   60% - 74%



                   75% - 86%






Before that final result is determined however, there are two further steps.

STEP 2: The Quality Assessor checks the form for consistency of quality - under what is called “Sectional Qualifiers”. The purpose of this is to ensure that one aspect of a cottage has not artificially driven up the overall percentage mark because it is of a higher quality than other parts of the property. Research has shown that the quality of certain aspects of a property is particularly important to guests. If the qualities of these fall below guests’ expectation then they will be disappointed. It is therefore very important that the quality of these critical areas match the overall grade of the property. The key areas are: Cleanliness, Living and Dining Areas, Bedrooms, Bathrooms and Kitchens.

If, for example, the overall percentage at Step 1 falls within the 4 Star band (75% to 86%), the percentage score for each of these five areas must also fall within the 4 Star band – however special importance attached to “cleanliness” which has its own banding percentages. The same process applies to all levels. If the individual quality score for any of these five areas falls below the overall grade indicated at Step 1 then the final grade awarded will be lowered accordingly. For example, following the previous example, if the Bathrooms achieved a score of 62% only, then this would mean the property as a whole could only achieve 3 Stars.

STEP 3: Finally, a check must be made to ensure that any additional facilities required at a particular Star level are present, as well as ensuring that the facilities standards applicable to all Star-rating levels are there for guests.

EXEMPTIONS: The Tourist Boards are aware that there are types of buildings that simply cannot provide all facility requirements by virtue of their size or because they are “Listed Buildings”. Under such circumstances, a certain amount of flexibility is allowed, as long as the quality of the Star grade sought is provided and all Sectional Qualifiers requirements met. This flexibility is applied on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the inspecting Tourist Board.



The proprietor/management is required to undertake and observe the following Code of Conduct:

  • To maintain standards of guest care, cleanliness, and service appropriate to the type of establishment;

  • To describe accurately in any advertisement, brochure, or other printed or electronic media, the facilities and services provided;

  • To make clear to visitors exactly what is included in all prices quoted for accommodation, including taxes, and any other surcharges. Details of charges for additional services/facilities should also be made clear;

  • To give a clear statement of the policy on cancellations to guests at the time of booking, i.e. by telephone, fax, email as well as information given in a printed format;

  • To adhere to, and not to exceed prices quoted at the time of booking for accommodation and other services;

  • To advise visitors at the time of booking, and subsequently of any change, if the accommodation offered is in an unconnected annex or similar and to indicate the location of such accommodation and any difference in comfort and/or amenities from accommodation in the establishment;

  • To give each visitor on request details of payments due and a receipt, if required;

  • To deal promptly and courteously with all enquiries, requests, bookings and correspondence from visitors;

  • Ensure complaint handling procedures are in place and that complaints received are investigated promptly and courteously and that the outcome is communicated to the visitor;

  • To give due consideration to the requirements of visitors with disabilities and visitors with special needs, and to make suitable provision where applicable;

  • To provide public liability insurance or comparable arrangement and to comply with all applicable planning, safety and other statutory requirements;

  • To allow a Tourist Board representative reasonable access to the establishment, on request to confirm the Code of Conduct is being observed.



Currently only VisitEngland operates a disabled or accessibility grading scheme M1, M2, M3. Consequently this website can only indicate those cottages in England with these grades, in Scotland, Wales and Ireland this website can only indicate those cottages that have some facilities to meet special needs. You can use Cottage Search to identify cottages with special facilities and then by viewing the cottage’s description you can see whether or not the cottage will meet your needs. However, you should contact the cottage’s owner direct to check that the facilities offered are suitable to meet any special needs.



If you think that any aspect of a cottage does not meet its Tourist Board grading, you should first discuss your concerns with the cottage’s owner who in agreeing to The Code of Conduct for Tourist Board Quality Graded Cottages has undertaken to have a complaint handling procedures in place and that complaints received are investigated promptly and courteously, and that the outcome is communicated to the visitor. In the unlikely event you feel that your complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved you should contact the cottage’s appropriate Tourist Board:

For cottages in England email: qualityintourism@gslglobal.com
For cottages in Scotland email: qu@visitscotland.com
For cottages in Wales email: quality.tourism@wales.gsi.gov.uk
For cottages in Northern Ireland write to: info@tams.ie

Quality Assurance Manager, NITB,
59 North Street, Belfast BT1 1NB.

…… and please email a copy to quality@premiercottages.co.uk.


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