Friday 6 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 6/10/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Image: Getty Images

Hospitality / Rooksana Hossenally

Overnight success

Few publications wield the power to make or break a restaurant (or cause even the coolest chef to boil over) like the Michelin Guide. For more than a century, it has been a culinary compass, first guiding motorists, then a fleet of food-focused customers who are today willing to cross borders or scale mountains to try the finely-honed fare that its pages recommend. Overnight, the hospitality heavyweight announced the tool that it will be using to rate hotels too: the Michelin Key.

As Monocle joined journalists from the international media in the red-trimmed bar and restaurant of Les Bains, a Parisian hotel known for its raucous parties in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a certain tension in the air before the announcement. The question isn’t so much if Michelin has the clout or capability to move further into the world of hotels but how its famously stringent inspectors plan to do so – and what they will select. The answer? With some serious ambition, including a booking platform set to include 5,000 hotels in 120 countries.

“These are not your run-of-the-mill lodgings,” says international director of Michelin Guides Gwendal Poullennec. “They are destinations unto themselves, offering a glimpse into a world of architectural feats, personalised service and more than anything else, [places] that have an unparalleled uniqueness and authenticity to them.”

For those keen to sample the best overnighters, you’ll be pleased to hear that 25 hotel inspectors are already plumping pillows and calling room service – on your behalf, of course – for the first hotel guide, which will be published early next year. In an industry increasingly saturated with unreliable recommendations and cookie-cutter hotels, there’s certainly space on the bookshelf (and in app stores) for another trusted voice that talks to decent service and honest hospitality. Michelin, it seems, will remain key to the conversation.

Rooksana Hossenally is a freelance journalist based in Paris. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Image: Getty Images


What’s in a name?

Following its lightning offensive to take Nagorno-Karabakh earlier this month, Azerbaijan is looking to further consolidate control over the former Armenian-majority enclave. Part of the approach has been to reissue a map of the territory’s capital, which was first released in August 2021. But keen-eyed observers have noticed that one of the streets now bears the name of the Ottoman military officer Enver Pasha, the principal perpetrator of the Armenian genocide.

The inflammatory move comes as the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, pulled out of peace talks with Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and the EU. The meeting had been scheduled to take place in Granada in Spain this week. Now, it seems that peace negotiations are less likely than ever. “Not only does Azerbaijan’s cartographic decision keep genocidal intent alive but its actions seem to be part of a broader strategic shift towards Turkey and Russia,” Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Centre based in Yerevan, Armenia, tells The Monocle Minute. “All of this signals a move against the collective interests of the West.”

Design / Malaysia

Matters of the art

The Kuala Lumpur Design Festival (KLDF) opens today in Malaysia’s capital. The 10-day event includes exhibitions, performances, installations and film screenings that are open to the public, as well as networking sessions and other opportunities for industry professionals. This year’s theme is “sustainable intelligence” and will focus on the intersection between design, technology and sustainability.

One of the aims of KLDF is to transform spaces within the Kuala Lumpur Creative and Cultural District, an area marked out by city hall for urban rejuvenation. Events are taking place at landmarks such as the Godown Arts Centre and The Back Ground at Rexkl. “What sets the festival apart from others is its unwavering commitment to inclusivity,” KLDF’s co-founder, Muhamad Razif Nasruddin, tells The Monocle Minute. “It departs from conventional designer-centric gatherings and, instead, presents a diverse array of activities aimed at inspiring, educating and fostering a strong sense of community among attendees.”

Image: Delaney Inamine

Urbanism / France

High society

Surprisingly for a Mediterranean city, Marseille only recently discovered the potential – not to mention the spectacular views – of its rooftops. From 6 to 7 October, France’s second city will celebrate Rooftop Days, an initiative that encourages municipal authorities, businesses and residents to think of creative ways to reinvent rooftops as communal spaces.

The focus is less on bars and restaurants and more on public amenities. In densely populated cities such as Marseille, these spaces can be transformed into urban gardens, outdoor gyms or social venues. The organisers, a local collective named A nous les Toits (The Roofs Are Ours), were inspired by a similar event in Rotterdam. Other initiatives have since sprung up elsewhere: Paris held its first Rooftop Days in September while the European Creative Rooftop Network, which was founded in 2019, comprises nine members, including Barcelona, Amsterdam, Faro and Nicosia. The rest of the Mediterranean should take note.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Richard Prince

Photo of the week / London

Splice of life

“Untitled (Make-up)” (pictured), 1982-1984, is part of an exhibition that opened this week at London’s Gagosian gallery by US pop-art photographer Richard Prince. Throughout his work, Prince collects examples of discomforting mainstream humour, as well as images that chronicle US subcultures and explore the construction of national identity. In 1977, Prince developed the technique of “rephotographing”, a process that saw the artist repurpose print advertising and lifestyle images to make them his own. Gagosian is hosting two exhibitions by Prince in London: Early Photography, 1977-1987, which is on show at the Grosvenor Hill gallery from 5 October to 22 December, and The Entertainers at the Davies Street gallery, which runs between 5 October to 16 November. Other notable works on display are his iconic cowboy, girlfriend and advertisement photographs, which have not previously been shown in London.

Monocle Films / Sport

Swiss urban swimming

To celebrate the release of our new book, Swim & Sun: A Monocle Guide, we spend the day at swim club Flussbad Oberer Letten in Zürich. Bathers of every age come here to strip off and feel the freedom of the water in the river Limmat. Join us. Our latest book is available at The Monocle Shop.


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