Is Raleigh on the Cusp of Michelin Recognition?

Now booking: Raleigh earns first nod from Michelin.

Is Raleigh’s moment as a Michelin city finally arriving? Yes, if The Longleaf Hotel’s recent distinction has anything to say about it. No longer just an aspiration, Raleigh is now officially on the Michelin map—thanks to the midcentury-mod boutique hotel. 

A star in its own right, the ubercool conversion that gave new life to the old DTR Days Inn has shaken up the scene with Raleigh’s first long-awaited nod from the authority on hospitality who just added hotels to its roster. Starting this year in France—and dishing out U.S. distinctions as recently as a few weeks ago—Michelin is now “applying that same level of passion and expertise to hotels [as restaurants], identify[ing] the world’s best and most exciting accommodations—places worthy of being called a Michelin Guide hotel.” 

Ranging from mansions and bustling metropolises to isolated oases and “two rooms tucked inside an ancient watchtower,” the Michelin hotel guide is honed in on recognizing accommodations on all spectrums—as long as each stay meets its criteria (see sidebar). 

One of only 15 hotels in NC to earn an acknowledgement, it’s no wonder the curated and stylish inn—a true extension of Raleigh’s personality—has earned acclaim for its luxe yet purposely old-fashioned vibe, with no detail forgotten. (See the “equally upscale” lounge to boot.) 

“This certification truly feels like a stamp of approval that we’re doing things right,” says Loden Hospitality Chief Operating Officer Christine McDonald. 

Michelin’s well-established restaurant guide that has famously ranked worthy restaurants with stars now fittingly honors hotels with a key. But with one caveat: In order to earn stars, establishments have to exist in a “Michelin city.” It’s unclear yet if the same applies to scoring those garnered keys. As of right now, the Capital District lodge has earned a Michelin certification, with high hopes of key-level recognition. According to Loden Marketing Manager Catherine Kobe, the only hotels currently* boasting key status are located across the pond.

“Having Michelin acknowledge the incredible work and dedication of our team has been a real thrill,” says McDonald. “And it’s not just us celebrating—Raleigh is now literally on the map as a top-notch destination for incredible stays and experiences, and that is what really excites us.”

There’s no question Raleigh is rising in the ranks as a destination—from its cultivated culinary scene to its ever-heightened appeal as a metropolitan hot spot for activities and accommodations. Now, the arbiter of hospitality has recognized Raleigh’s résumé, thus launching us into a new league—and era. … Is Raleigh’s moment as a Michelin City right around the bend? “We’re the gateway,” says Kobe. “That’s what we always say.” 

Must-Have Criteria, per Michelin

  1. Excellence in interior design + architecture
  2. Individuality, reflecting personality and authenticity
  3. Quality and consistency in service, comfort + maintenance
  4. An open door to the destination
  5. Ability to deliver an extraordinary experience for its price

Who’s the Judge

Michelin Guide hotel experts aren’t just looking for a place to crash and hit snooze. These seasoned excursionists, design and architecture connoisseurs, and hospitality service experts are tapped into the pulse of hotel and travel trends—and are “all but scour[ing] the Earth” to “unearth hidden gems” around the world. 

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.