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Michelin Guide to include exceptional French hotels

The hotel guide will use keys instead of stars to show excellence, as a way to ‘establish a truly trusted benchmark for the hotel industry’

A view of a Michelin sign in the traditional red colours with two ‘Star’ restaurant symbols

The Michelin ‘Keys’ will use a similar rating system to the ‘Stars’, but show a stylised key symbol instead Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

The prestigious Michelin Guide has expanded its remit to cover the best hotels, in addition to its famous restaurant stars, for 2024.

International Director of the Michelin Guide, Gwendal Poullennec, announced the change saying: “[The aim is to] establish a truly trusted benchmark for the hotel industry; a counterpart to the Michelin Guide in the world of gastronomy,” she said.

“The Michelin Key will be a clear, reliable indication for travellers. Just as the Michelin Star distinguishes those restaurants that are at the peak of their art, the Michelin Key recognises the most exceptional hotels throughout the world.

“It is also an acknowledgment of the teamwork of committed enthusiastic hospitality professionals,” Ms Poullennec said.

From too little information to too much

The Guide has awarded stars to the best restaurants around the world for more than a century but this is the first time that it will present official ‘Key’ accolades to hotels separately.

The restaurant Guide was first created by French brothers André et Édouard Michelin in 1900, to help provide motorists with insights about where to stop for food while on the road. 

This was needed back then, when there was a “deficit of information”, the director said.

“However, today it is the opposite,” she explained. “People find themselves in front of a mass of information. Our users spend on average 10 hours in front of screens to prepare for a trip, and consult more than 10 platforms; a real battleground.”

Ms Poullennec said that offering official Michelin ratings on both hotels as well as restaurants would give users a “reference to sort through” this constant bombardment of information.

In 2018 the Michelin guide group bought Tablet Hotel, a then-US website that specialised in curating a selection of well-rated boutique hotels with particularly high-end design.

Five hotel criteria

Michelin and Tablet Hotel have worked together since to establish the new hotel guide which already has more than 5,300 references to hotels across 120 countries. The current list will help inspectors to award Michelin accolades in later years.

Instead of its traditional star motif, the hotel guide will use a key symbol to show the level of its awards. The key was chosen as a “universal and timeless symbol”, said Ms Poullennec. 

It looks similar to the familiar, rounded ‘star’ symbol, but has a simple key design added.

There are five main criteria the hotel needs to meet:

  • A destination unto itself: the hotel contributes to the local experience
  • Excellence in architecture and interior design
  • Quality and regularity of service, comfort and maintenance
  • Singularity reflecting the personality of the establishment, its unique character
  • Consistency between the quality of the experience and the price paid

Users will be able to use the Michelin app and website to search hotels - just as they can currently search restaurants - book online, pay online, and gain access to 24/7 customer support.

So far, however, the exact date and format of the first edition of the new ‘hotels guide’ have yet to be revealed; nor have any clues as to which establishments will make the cut. 

Michelin said that its “teams are currently in the field and will reveal the first Michelin Key selection in the first half of 2024”.

The Michelin Guide company receives payment via bookings taken for its recommended restaurants on its website (€1 per meal booked via its platform). The hotels business model will work in a similar way. 

Michelin will take 10-15% for each hotel booked via its platform recommendation, an amount “in line with market standards”, said Ms Poullennec. 

She added that there was a “watertight seal” between sales teams and inspectors who award the accolade, meaning that each reference is independent and that hotels cannot pay to be listed.

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