Top Tips for Getting a Table in London’s Toughest-to-Book Restaurants

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London is filled with fantastic restaurants, each of which provides you with unique dining experiences throughout the city. The flip side of this culinary reputation is that many of the finest restaurants are constantly booked, making it tricky to try them for yourself when visiting.

In this blog, we’ll take a quick look at a few of our top tips, sure to help you secure a table.

Pick your timing wisely

Never underestimate the importance of timing. While it can be tempting to try and book at a peak time of day, you’re much less likely to land a table when there’s ample competition. Instead, look for times when the crowds are thinned, and the restaurant will be happy for the added custom. These peak times are traditionally between midday and around 2pm for lunch, and between 5:30pm-8:30pm for dinners – avoid them whenever possible, unless you already have reservations at a venue where there is less demand.

The day you visit is also just as crucial. Weekends tend to be particularly busy at the top London restaurants, due to the increased leisure time which corresponds to this time of the week. While staying at hotels near Marble Arch, plan your restaurant visit at these desirable venues for a time and a day which is a little outside of conventional dining hours.

Call ahead

This is an old-fashioned way to get a table, but nonetheless it has been known to work. Some restaurants appreciate a more traditional approach to making a reservation, and with many of these venues the protocol surrounding getting a table is not particularly clear.

If you can find the phone number for a restaurant which interests you, try calling them. You may find there is a dedicated manager who works with reservations, so they’ll be rushed off their feet during the busier times of the day. Call in the morning or a day before you plan to dine at a particular venue.

The worst that can happen with this approach is that they tell you reservations can’t be made over the phone. In this instance, ask what their reservation policy (if applicable) is, and take the opportunity to ask for tips on when to arrive for the best chances of getting a great table. While not every restaurant will be accommodating, some will – and you’ll learn much more about the way they work, knowledge which can be applied in the future.

Turn on the charm

Be careful that you don’t come across as too pushy during your negotiations for a table. We’ve all heard that it’s easier to convince someone to join your side when you’re being charming, and this certainly holds true during a negotiation situation. A large part of remaining affable and charming lies in understanding the social cues which the staff is providing.

If the restaurant is incredibly busy when you’re trying to book, understand that your request may not be possible. Knowing when to stop is as essential as knowing when to persist, as you may be able to get your coveted table at another time or date if you behave appropriately. Don’t be afraid to use wit when you request a table, and remain friendly and reasonable while enjoying the latest London hotel deals.

Do your research

Research the restaurant where you want a table as thoroughly as possible. While there are a few general rules about the peak times throughout London, knowing as much about the exact restaurant you want a reservation at will give you an edge over anyone else who could be a rival for the exact same spot.

Take a look at the website, and get to know everything you can. Find out about the specifics of their booking procedure (when possible) and discover how you can make these work for you while you stay in the city with London hotel offers.

Some restaurants may be able to offer you guidance on how to get a last-minute booking, or be happy to place you on a shortlist in case of last-minute cancellations. You won’t know until you try, so research contact details and ensure you have a little ready knowledge about your target establishment.

Have a back-up plan

Even the best plans can fall through, so be sure to research and attempt to make a booking at more than one restaurant. London is one of the busiest cities on earth, and a haven for foodies. This means that you have lots of competition for the best tables at the best venues.

Having a back-up – or even a couple of back-ups – will help improve the odds of you enjoying a delicious meal in a desirable place. The more you can sway things in your favour, the better.

Compile a shortlist of the restaurants where you’d really like to make a reservation. Jot down the contact details for each one, and assess them by priority. You certainly don’t want to end up with multiple reservations in several different places! Then, begin to methodically work your way through the list, starting at the top.

If there’s no chance of a reservation at your first choice, don’t despair – even your second or third choice is likely to be a fantastic place for a meal after heading to the spa in London.

Book in advance

The importance of researching your options (and making bookings) in advance can never be overstated. Advance booking is the simplest way to ensure you can relax, safe in the knowledge you’ve made reservations and will be able to try some of your favourite restaurants while visiting the city.

If you need to, there are ways to heighten the likelihood of getting a booking later, but none are as effective as a reservation made long before it’s needed. Once you know when you’ll be visiting the UK capital, begin looking at your shortlist and making enquiries.