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"We can still be creative"

"We can still be creative"

Ruth Engels, F&B manager and sommelier for the Ink Hotel Amsterdam MGallery by Sofitel, was invited to the BIRD, the 23rd floor restaurant of AccorHotels headquarters in Paris, to showcase her talents. The MGallery Global Team took this opportunity to meet her and talk about her career, life and travel habits.

Congratulations for being here, how did this opportunity come to you? How has it been going so far?

The opportunity has come from the BENELUX Talent & Culture team. I was really happy when I was selected as such an opportunity is usually for a chef and not someone who works in the front of the restaurant.  I have worked with the chef to select wines that would complement and enhance the menu.

It has gone better than expected – I thought guests would not want wine at lunchtime, but they are very receptive when I visit a table and explain what I do. I also created some nonalcoholic cocktails to meet all guests’ expectations.


Can you tell us about your career? Why did you choose this job?

I studied at a hotel school in the Netherlands and while I was in school I worked in a Michelin starred restaurant as a part time job. I was really passionate and I wanted to work in high end restaurants.

Once I completed school, I worked as a receptionist at a hotel but it wasn’t for me. Back to restaurants! I learned a lot during that time and that is where my passion for wine and wine/ food pairings came about.  I worked with a great sommelier there for about two years and he became my inspiration to pursue this passion as a career.

One of the main obstacles I encountered was to find the balance between personal and professional life: the hours are challenging, with days of up to 16 hours, so I have been working to find that balance. The best part of the job?  You get to taste really nice wines and meet new people every day! 


What is it like to be a female sommelier? How do you see the job of sommelier evolving in 10 years? 

It used to be and it is still a masculine job; you don’t find a lot of female sommeliers yet. However, women have a very strong sense of taste and smell, which makes them perfect for the job! And a lot more women are starting to become sommeliers… My advice for these women would be to be confident and keep going their own way. A lot of people on the way with experience will be intimidating, but they shouldn’t mind them, it is essential to show you are a good taster and remain confident.

I think in the coming years, the service will become more relaxed and less formal, the sommelier is going to become an adviser rather than a seller. The sommelier will be a storyteller about the wine, advising on taste and food. Training the whole team will become part of the job as well, so everyone can deliver the service.


Why choose to work for the INK Hotel Amsterdam Mgallery by Sofitel?

I have been working for the INK for almost a year now.  I was asked by the chef to join the team. I went to the opening dinner just to look around, and fell in love with the restaurant and the INK hotel. 

I really like the boutique style of each hotel of the brand as well.  The hotels keep their own identity and that is important for INK hotel. We can still be creative even when fitting into brand standards –the brand allows us to be flexible, free and creative.


What kind of female traveler are you?

I am a simple traveler: when I travel I take my credit card, passport and tooth brush, which are my three essentials. Everything else I can buy where I will be.

The thing is, we can all forget something. It’s good to be able to find easy-forgettable things in the hotels where we travel, and to feel free to ask for something if you need it.

I also always bring back a small reminder of my trip back home, and leave a note at home behind for my family.

When I travel, I always try to go to an AccorHotels, to see what other brands are doing, to feel the atmosphere of the hotel or to learn more about the values of MGallery and Accor to translate back in the hotel.


What is your favorite meal/wine pairing?

This is a difficult question! I have a lot… But sometimes the simplest combinations are the best: I like a good steak with a glass a Bordeaux. Classic but effective!

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