One year after the implementation of the fifth–star rating system in France, French authorities have acknowledged that amongst those 5-star hotels (65 to date), certain are outstanding, due to their exceptional location, their historical interest or their “tailor made” services and deserve to be treated as such. The regulation of 8 November 2010 creates a “distinction Palace” allowing those exceptional hotels to be better positioned in the context of a competitive international offer.

1. Conditions of eligibility
In order to obtain the “distinction-Palace” a hotel must, as a prerequisite, fulfill the following criteria:

  • The business shall have started business at least 30 months previously in the event of a creation of a new hotel or 24 months previously for a hotel renovation which involved a business interruption.
  • The hotel shall be rated as a 5-star hotel.
  • The rooms must be at least 26m² for a single room (versus 20m² for a 5 star) and 30m² for a double room (versus 24m² for a 5 star).
  • The hotel must comply with all the mandatory criteria required for the 5-star rating (whilst the 5-star rating requires only a certain number of those to be met).

Once those criteria met, all candidates to the “distinction Palace” shall be subject to a review by “Atout France”, the French Agency for the development of French tourism. A two-member jury will be in charge of reviewing some further, more subjective criteria.

2. Criteria of appreciation of the jury
The criteria on which the jury will base its review of candidates are:

  • Economic criteria
    • The commercial performance of the hotel in comparison with the average for 5-star rated establishments;
    • The average staff by key as a function of annual occupancy of the hotel:
      • Greater than or equal to 2.2 for establishments located in Paris;
      • Greater than or equal to 1.5 for establishments located outside of Paris

  • The location of the hotel

The hotel must be located in an area of an exceptional quality within a harmonious natural and architectural setting (for example, sites that are classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites or that are located in an exceptional landscape or in an area protected by the coastal protection association).

  • The exceptional architecture of the building whether historical or contemporary

The remarkable character of the architecture shall be judged by the age of the building, the type of historical protection, and the exceptional modern or contemporary architecture.

  • The capacity of the hotel and the significant number of suites

The proportion of suites (approximately 20 percent of the keys) shall be a criterion for determining the high degree of personalised service and the excellent level of service.  A suite corresponds either to a room with a minimum surface area of 60m² or to an apartment made up of a separate bedroom.

  • The attractiveness and size of the premises, the remarkable quality of the equipment and elements of comfort

The quality of the intervening parties (the reputation of the interior designer, architect, chief, etc.), the nobility of the materials used (wood, material, glass, stone), the presence of artwork and floral decorations, and the inclusion of spacious, harmonious areas are all elements which shall be considered in determining the exceptional character of the premises and the high level of excellence.  The quality of the bed linen and the bath linen as well as the bedding and proposed welcoming products shall also be attentively analysed.

  • The legend, history and personality of the hotel

Famous visitors to the establishment (international public figures, whether politicians, figures renowned in the fields of art and spectacle, show business, sport, etc.) and historical events occurring at the establishment (e.g., signing of international treaties, hosting of political summits and Art and Cultural festivals) are also criteria which determine the prestigious nature of the premises.

  • The personalisation, speed, precision and permanence of the service

The qualification level of the staff and the continuity of client service are indicators of the level of personalisation, speed and permanence of service.  The latter element is determined by the presence of a client service 24/7 covering concierge and valet/luggage service and room service.

  • The excellence of the restaurant and bar

A fine dining restaurant of international standing (as recognised by the leading international restaurant guides), the quality and importance of offerings on the wine menu and the presence of a bar all contribute to the determination of an “exceptional hotel”.

  • The unique character of the hotel

This criterion relates to an appreciation of the unique character of the hotel, irrespective of it belonging to a chain. The fact that the hotel is referenced in an international guide and review is an element for the determination of its unique character.

  • Implementation of the team in achieving excellence

This criterion relates to the actions undertaken by the hotel to achieve excellence in service.  The training budget and the existence of a profit-sharing scheme for the employees are also indicators to be considered.

3. The “distinction Palace” shall be granted for a five-year period during which the hotel shall be entitled to use the denomination “Palace”.

There is only one annual session of the jury and the vote is decided by the majority. In the event of a tie, the jury president casts the deciding vote.