Understanding the Forbes Travel Guide Standards

Learn what it takes for hotels, restaurants, and spas to earn this recognition.

hotel managers discussing the forbes standards and how to apply for them in the hotel lobby

What are the Forbes Standards?

The Forbes Standards, developed by Forbes Travel Guide, are rigorous criteria for evaluating and rating luxury hotels, restaurants, and spas worldwide. These standards cover everything from the quality of service and amenities to the cleanliness of the facilities and the overall guest experience.

To receive a Forbes rating, establishments must meet or exceed these standards and consistently deliver exceptional guest experiences. Being recognized by the Forbes Travel Guide is a prestigious honor and a testament to the high quality and service these luxury establishments provide.

How Do You Get Rated By Forbes?

To earn a rating from the Forbes Travel Guide, hotels, restaurants, and spas undergo a detailed evaluation. A team of anonymous professional inspectors visits as regular guests, assessing service, facilities, guest experiences, and emotional connections using a set of objective criteria and standards.

To earn a Forbes 5-star rating, establishments must score exceptionally well in all categories of hospitality and hotel management. Some of them include:

Authentic Guest Experience

Forbes inspectors look for hotels, restaurants, and spas that provide authentic experiences rooted in the local culture and traditions. This means showcasing the unique aspects of the destination and incorporating them into the guest experience.

Sustainability and Luxury

In today’s world, luxury and sustainability don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Forbes Travel Guide evaluates establishments’ sustainability efforts, from eco-friendly practices to supporting the local community and economy.

Evolution of Well-being

Forbes Travel Guide understands the importance of wellness and well-being in today’s society. To earn high ratings, establishments must prioritize their guests’ health and wellness, offering amenities and experiences that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Curation of an Experience

Forbes standards also focus on the overall curation of an experience. It includes everything from the quality and variety of amenities to the attention to detail in service and design. The goal is to create a cohesive, luxurious, and unforgettable guest experience.

Demanding Guest Expectations

In the luxury hospitality industry, guest expectations are always high. Forbes Travel Guide evaluates establishments based on their ability to meet and exceed these expectations. This means providing exceptional service, anticipating guests’ needs, and delivering personalized experiences.

Influencing Factors per Industry

The Forbes Standards are applied across different industries but may vary based on the specific industry’s nuances. For example, a 5-star hotel may have different criteria than a 5-star restaurant.


Forbes evaluates areas such as:

  • Interactions before and during arrival and departure – from reservations to check-in and check-out processes, staff greetings and interactions, assisting with luggage, and more.
  • Guest room and housekeeping – Criteria for assessing the room amenities and services include daily and evening housekeeping services.
  • Food and beverage – The hotel standards for food and beverage may vary depending on the type of establishment (e.g., city hotel, resort, etc.) but generally include quality, variety, and presentation of food and drinks.
  • Maintenance and security – Forbes evaluates how well-maintained and secure an establishment is, including regular maintenance checks, safety and security measures, and response to guest concerns or emergencies.
  • Public areas and general guest experience – This includes the overall hotel management, from the design and cleanliness of public spaces to the availability of amenities such as pools, spas, fitness centers, etc.


Forbes assesses various aspects, including:

  • Food quality and presentation – Forbes inspectors consider taste and visual appeal when evaluating food at a restaurant. They also assess the variety and creativity of dishes offered.
  • Service and hospitality – Besides the food quality, Forbes also evaluates the level of service the staff provides, including their knowledge, attentiveness, and ability to anticipate guests’ needs.
  • Atmosphere and ambiance – The overall atmosphere and ambiance play a significant role in a restaurant’s rating. Forbes evaluates this factor by considering decor, lighting, music, and noise levels.
  • Wine and beverage program – For restaurants that offer alcoholic beverages, Forbes evaluates the quality, selection, and presentation of wines and other drinks.


For spas, Forbes considers:

  • Facilities and amenities – The spa’s facilities should be clean, well-maintained, and provide a relaxing atmosphere. Forbes also evaluates the amenities, such as saunas, steam rooms, pools, etc.
  • Services and treatments – The quality and variety of services and treatments are crucial in a spa’s rating. Forbes looks for expertly trained staff, high-quality products, and unique experiences.
  • Service standards – Similar to restaurants, spas are also evaluated on their service standards, including the staff’s attentiveness, knowledge, and ability to create a personalized experience for each guest.
  • Luxury and well-being – Forbes considers how well the spa balances luxury with wellness. This includes offering treatments that promote physical and mental well-being and incorporating sustainable practices into their operations.

How are Ratings Calculated?

The standards are usually pretty straightforward and objective. The evaluation process includes hundreds of questions that can be answered with a simple Yes or No. Then, all inquiries are categorized, automatically generating individual percentage scores for each section analyzed.

Using the obtained score leads to a composite score associated with the corresponding Star Rating:

  • Five-Star – Properties that exceed 90% deliver an exceptional experience with consistently high levels of personalized service.
  • Four-Star – 82% and above means the establishment provides top-notch service and quality facilities.
  • Recommended – 72% and above indicates that the properties provide great features and consistently good service and amenities.
Rob Paredes
Article by
Rob Paredes
Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.