Top tips on getting a pub reservation, according to a pub landlord

Ellie Abraham
·3-min read
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

For months during the coronavirus lockdown, pubs and restaurants have remained closed to customers to stop the spread of the virus.

But, in line with the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, since Monday 12 April hospitality venues with an outdoor space to host guests have been able to re-open their patio and garden areas. It is also hoped that indoor hospitality will reopen on May 17.

With everyone deprived of a good old fashioned drink in the British elements for far too long, requisite booking slots are filling up fast. The Independent spoke to a pub landlord to get the best tips on how to secure yourself a pub booking:

Check online

Due to the sheer volume of booking enquiries, many pubs and restaurants with outdoor areas have set up special online booking systems. Some are not accepting any bookings over the phone, while others simply don’t have the staff to be able to manage the calls.

Peter Collie is the landlord of The Horseshoe Inn near London Bridge. He told The Independent: “We are probably getting 400 calls and emails a day regarding bookings.”

Online booking systems allow you to see what times are still available and, depending on the venue, these will be in time-limited slots.

It’s best to check the individual venue’s website and social media, as this will give the most up-to-date information on how best to secure a space.

If you do call, time it carefully

Late afternoons and evenings are typically venues’ busiest times, so it makes sense that if you want to get through to a human, you probably shouldn’t call during peak hours.

If the particular place you want a spot at takes bookings by phone, you’re much more likely to get through if you give them a ring earlier in the day.

Check most recent opening hours and drop them a line when staff aren’t going to be rushed off their feet.

The sooner you can book, the better

Having to book has put an end to spontaneous nights out, during which you follow where the wind takes you. Instead, in order to ensure you secure any spots at all, Collie says it’s best to get your bookings in early.

He said: “Book days in advance because normally we can do that. Also, if people book earlier on in the week, they’re much more likely to get a table.

“Thursday, Friday and Saturdays are quite hard to get and are certainly booked earlier in the week,” says Collie.

Request an early afternoon booking

Obviously, there’s nothing better than post-work drinks in the sun on a Friday evening, but in these extremely busy times, expectations and plans may have to be adjusted slightly.

In order to have the best chance at securing somewhere, Collie suggests booking for an earlier time than you would normally opt for.

He explains: “Try and book for as early as possible. If you can book a table for four o’clock in the afternoon, then you’re more likely to get to a table.

“If you start trying to book for sort of 5, 6, 7 o’clock, then you’re going to have a bit of a problem.”

Try your luck with a walk-in, but don’t hold your breath

Some venues, especially those with big gardens and multiple covers, may hold a few tables open for walk-ins. But it’s not a guarantee and should probably be a last resort, at best.

Even those that are fully booked will, unfortunately, have no-shows, so you have nothing to lose but beer-drinking time in trying.

Collie explained: “You can try walk-ins - and they do and, quite often, we do find them a table. It might take 15 or 20 minutes but we do find them.”

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