One of the world's most coveted listings, the Michelin Guide, is expanding its mandate to hotels, with the first awards set to be handed out early next year.
Rather than stars awarded to top restaurants, the best hotels will get keys based on several criteria including architecture, individuality, service, comfort and price.
A team has already been working to create an initial selection of 5,300 hotels from across 120 countries, it was announced at an event in Paris on Thursday.
Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide, said he and his team want to create a “trusted reference” that helps travellers cut through the vast array of online hotel suggestions.
“Users spend on average 10 hours in front of screens to prepare for a trip and consult more than 10 platforms – it's an obstacle course,” he said.
Launched in 1900 by the eponymous French tyremaker, the original Michelin Guide was meant to give practical advice to people driving the first motor vehicles around France. By 1920, it was charging for guidebooks filled with lists of hotels in Paris and restaurants broken into categories.
Today the Michelin Guide makes most of its money through referrals from its website, taking one euro per reservation.
Hotels will pay a 10 per cent to 15 per cent commission to Michelin for reservations through its site, Poullennec said, clarifying that editorial and sales team will operate independently.
All of those hotels, whether or not they earn keys, will be bookable through the Michelin Guide website.
Michelin has not specified whether a hotel can get more than one key. In its restaurant ratings, one star denotes that a restaurant is “worth a stop”, two are “worth a detour”, and three are “worth a special journey”.
Poullennec took over the guide in 2018, the same year in which the group bought Tablet Hotels, an American site offering boutique hotel stays around the world.
The site’s booking interface and hotel database now power a portal on the Michelin Guide site where consumers can browse a curated selection of accommodations – many with Michelin-rated restaurants – and make reservations.
The move to rank hotels is a long-planned bid to capture more of the travel market at a time when consumer spending and competition in the sector are at an all-time high. In recent months, restaurant ranking groups World’s 50 Best and La Liste have released hotel lists for the first time.
Michelin said its hotel rankings, like the restaurants, will strictly be decided by teams of anonymous inspectors.
While World’s 50 Best allows its anonymous panel to rank hotels in which they have accepted complimentary stays, La Liste primarily bases its ranking on what’s been written in previous press coverage.
Michelin inspectors pay their bills, said Poullennec, so there is no “commercial bias”.
Agencies contributed to this report