Writing on the wall for formal hotel dining?

It must have taken an awful lot of consideration and no small amount of courage for the owners of Boath House, a boutique hotel in Nairn, Scotland, to ask to be stripped of the Michelin-star awarded to its restaurant.

The Michelin-star is, after all, the ultimate recognition of high quality dining – in the same week we have also reported on chef Anne-Sophie Pic, who has been awarded a first star for her restaurant at Four Seasons hotel London at Ten Trinity Square. Pic said: “It is the greatest honour to have been awarded a Michelin star today. This star is testament to the entire team’s dedication to delivering excellence to every guest dining in the restaurant daily. I am extremely proud to receive this recognition for my first restaurant in the UK.”

From the outside one would assume that the attention and kudos a Michelin-star brings would be good for the bottom line. But that is not the experience of Boath House owner Wendy Matheson, who said: “While we are extremely proud of the Michelin star we gained ten years ago, and it undoubtedly enhanced our reputation, our restaurant has consistently made a loss. We believe the expectations from Michelin are at odds with achievable profit margins and put an enormous stress on a small, family-run business like ours. The feedback we hear time and again from customers is they want an experience that is more informal and relaxed.”

The Mathesons are not the first to relinquish their stars either. Chef Sebastien Bras has also asked for the three-stars his restaurant in Le Suquet, France, has held since 1999, to be removed. Bras asked to be dropped from the Michelin guide citing a desire to “start a new chapter”.

The shift towards less formal dining has been evident for quite some time now, but if customers in quality hotels are demanding informal dining over Michelin-starred fare, things are changing even faster than I thought.

To read more about trends in the F&B space click here.

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