How to Become a Hotel Pianist

November 04, 2019

If you are a pianist then regular work is always wanted! We book pianists for hotels all across London and we’ve noticed that some artists aren’t entirely sure what the top hotels are looking for when it comes to playing piano in their restaurant. With this in mind, we thought we’d write this blog to give you an idea of what hotels are looking for.

Light Playing

The first thing to consider is that as a hotel pianist, you will ordinarily be playing background music that the hotel’s clientele will appreciate. As such, there cannot be any ‘heavy’ fingers on the keys! The guests want to be able to enjoy talking with friends and family whilst the pianist plays in the background so a light touch is mandatory!

A Varied Repertoire

When it comes to repertoire, it is good for the songs to be varied. Classic jazz standards alongside songs like ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ are hugely popular whilst any pianist that knows a few films scores will always go down well. We aren’t necessarily talking the theme to Jaws, but more likely something by Ennio Morricone that audiences will really enjoy. It always helps if you have a few modern songs and classic pop in there too; in short, a good variation is ideal.

A Love of Playing

Residencies at hotels are split into shifts. There is the morning shift, the afternoon shift and the evening shift. As such, the hours involved can be quite long! Now we don’t expect you to have four hours’ worth of different material (the guests will have changed from the first hour to the fourth after all), but you will have to really enjoy playing the piano to play for that long. You get a fifteen minute break every forty-five minutes.

Be Flexible

Residencies are generally booked a few weeks in advance but as one can understand, some of our regular pianists may get ill or family life takes over. In this position, we ordinarily have to find a ‘dep’ to deputise in the slot. This is often at late notice so if you haven’t yet got a regular residency slot at one of the hotels where we book pianists, being flexible and open to working at late notice might just be your way in to be able to say you’ve played at [insert famous hotel here]!


Because the hotels expect the best, we always look to audition our hotel residency pianists before booking them anywhere. This is so we can assess your playing and see which hotel might be the best bit for you. Some pianists are suitable for some hotels but not necessarily suitable for others. As such, we love to meet our pianists and see where they may be perfectly suited.

Smart Dress

It goes without saying that playing at five star establishments as a hotel pianist means that you will have to look the part. Ordinarily this means black tie but our bookers will always let you know in advance if something different is required.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive when it comes to being booked as a hotel pianist. There are other residencies where a more casual or upbeat approach will be required but that is another blog for another time!



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By Henry Fosdike