Following the long-standing success of its star ratings for restaurants, the Michelin Guide will introduce a new accolode for “exceptional hotels” next year. Jenny Southan reports

What makes an exceptional hotel? According to the Michelin Guide team, it’s “style and service, personality and reliability, culture, comfort, and a consistently extraordinary experience”.

Just in the way that the Michelin Guide has rewarded outstanding restaurants with Michelin Stars, it’s team of mystery inspectors (who are all former travel professionals) will now be booking stays and attributing Michelin Keys to the world’s best hotels.

The Michelin Guide has so far pre-selected more than 6,000 places to stay (these include hotels, and other accommodation types such as castles, hostels, ryokans and even tents) and these are currently being evaluated. (One such example in the Gardena Grödnerhof in the Italian Dolomites, which Globetrender recently reviewed.)

An annual award, the Michelin Key will be awarded following one or several stays conducted anonymously by The Michelin Guide selection teams. The first Michelin Key selection will be revealed in the first half of 2024.

“The Michelin Key is a clear, reliable indication for travelers. Just as the Michelin Star distinguishes those restaurants that are at the peak of their art, the Michelin Key recognizes the most exceptional hotels throughout the world. It is also an acknowledgment of the teamwork of committed enthusiastic hospitality professionals,” says Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide.

After four years of work, the Michelin Guide says it has “rethought” its hotel selection. Like restaurants, the Michelin Guide intends to independently recommend establishments that constitute true destinations. The Guide puts its expertise at the service of travellers to support them in their search for personalised experiences.

In response to the “hyper standardisation” of hotels (design, interior decoration, attention to detail in the room, etc), it says it wishes to “arouse the emotion of customers by directing them towards establishments that excel in all areas – architectural choices, the art of craftsmanship and detail to doing a job, and asserting your own personality”.

The new Michelin Guide selection recommends thousands of hotels in 120 countries, with varied price ranges and diverse styles. It is based on five criteria:

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

With its selection developed independently of existing labels and without pre-established quotas, the Michelin Guide has three objectives:

  1. Guide travelers to boutique accommodations that offer much more than a room for a night
  2. Precede or extend a gastronomic outing with a memorable hotel stay
  3. Allow you to choose, book and comment on your stay on a single independent platform

Exploring the selection on the Michelin Guide website and mobile app is easy and intuitive from planning to booking. Clients may take inspiration from the Magazine section, choose between accommodations using a filter search, reserve a room, pay online, and provide feedback or share their experiences.

The platform is ad-free for more fluid browsing, and future travelers can also enjoy customer service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as the assistance of a team of travel experts who specialise in offering tailored guidance.