What’s in a day?

Quite a lot. To give you some idea of how busy you might be, Michelin claims that every year, each inspector evaluates 240 restaurants, spends 130 nights in hotels, carries out 800 inspections, writes 1,100 reports and drives 18,000 miles (source: The Guardian, 24 January 2008).

Usually a hotel or restaurant requests an inspection from an organisation or guide, although sometimes inspections are done on recommendation. Inspectors tend to arrive anonymously and only announce their presence after they have paid their bill (which you claim back).

Key responsibilities:

  • Assessing housekeeping standards in bedrooms, bathrooms and public areas as well as service and cuisine
  • Arranging to send along a second inspector if you have doubts
  • Meeting regularly with fellow inspectors to compare reports
  • Taking joint responsibility for the awarding of stars or accolades, depending on the guide you work for
  • Preparing well-written reports that are then published in the guides

What sort of hours will I work?

You might spend three nights a week away from home and a typical day could start at 7am and end at 11pm when you are out in the field

The best bit about being a hotel/restaurant inspector

It can be fun – you get to travel around the country, stay in a variety of hotels and eat some fine food

And the worst?

It won’t all be cosy country house retreats and chic bars. Equally, assessing someone’s business is a big responsibility so you can’t allow personal dislikes to cloud your judgment. Oh - and you can’t allow yourself to be homesick, either.

What skills do I need?

You will probably have managerial skills and have reached the position of hotel or restaurant manager. Other talents include having a discerning palate, an ability to appreciate great service when you experience it and an ability to be impartial.

  • A keen eye for quality service
  • The patience to check under your bed, etc. and assess level of housekeeping
  • Experience of the hospitality business
  • A good knowledge of food and wine

What qualifications do I need?

Most inspectors tend to be hotel school graduates with at least five years' experience in the restaurant or hotel industry. Depending on which of the guides you work for, new recruits receive about six months' training and work with an experienced inspector before setting off alone.

Qualifications that will stand you in good stead include a City & Guilds qualification, OND, HND or a hospitality-oriented degree.

What sort of salary can I expect?

That all depends on who you work for and what size area you cover. You could be earning upwards of £45k.

Who would it suit?

You are probably mature – the average age of a Michelin guide inspector, for instance is 40 – and you will love the hospitality industry and enjoy your food. Take note that all those dinners-for-one will mean you need to be happy with your own company.

Where do I go from here?

Well, the obvious move is to go back into the industry with all your knowledge and launch the perfect hotel or restaurant.

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