47 Comments
Aug 11, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

The car parking and wine list stuff is inexcusable. Single travellers are given the smallest rooms and tables for obvious and understandable reasons. But it seems sometimes they get fixed ideas about this so, for example, you were sat at the off in a dank corner "solo table" when that evening there was plenty of room in a better spot.

I can all too easily believe women get treated worse than men. Maybe there should be name and shame or praise website for women travellers to share their experiences. Ratings should be from -10 to 0 because all you're asking for is it be treated properly.

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author

Exactly! Maybe someone will set up a Substack newsletter devoted to the subject …

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Aug 10, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

I have notice the same in my homecountry Sweden. Once I got a tiny room where they had full insight from the kitschen. Since it was late I draw the curtains, thought bad thoughts and wrote them down on the form you can find in hotelrooms. I have ben back regularely since then and now the hotel always gives me a suite or some fine room.

Another time when my daughter and I celebrated her 30 year birthday we were given the worst table by the door even though another table for two was free. I complained and got the answer that the other table was booked. I used the ”naughty” card and said he put us at the table by the door because we were two women. We got the other table and no one else turned up during the evening. The table by the door remained empty!

So fellow ladies around the world: let your voices be heard!

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author

It really is so frustrating that this is still happening in 2022. Particularly when alternative tables or rooms are free 🙄

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Aug 10, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

That’s a very disappointing story. I’ve often eaten solo and if I’ve been given a poor table I’ll complain, which will probably not surprise you. I’ve often had the wine list and bill being given to a male partner which is annoying when it was a client and o was the host. The Savoy once called a client Mr Richmond.

I really don’t like that visible shift in body language that you get when they realise you’re a solo diner - in their mind taking up a table for two. That’s why I love a counter for solo dining. In terms of hotels, I’ve generally been ok when on my own and I’ll let you know how I get on in Italy next month in light of other comments here 😳

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Yes, bars and counters are great for solo travellers. Looking forward to hearing how you get on in Italy 🤞

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Aug 10, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

It's not even the individual incidents of rudeness that bug me, I sometimes get them, more often not, and it does vary regionally and according to the type of establishment, it's the lack of planning for single guests who obviously weren't on the radar when the systems were set up and the menu written.

- No interesting wines by the half bottle, small carafe, or glass, just the house red, white, and possibly rosé

- All the signature dishes are "to share"

- No tables for less than 4 or even 6 covers, so yes, it might lose them customers to give me a seat

- How are solo travellers supposed to cope with the increasingly frequent requirement to find a table, memorise the number, then order at the bar or desk? This used to be normal in pubs, but it seems to be creeping into all other forms of eatery.

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Ohhhhh, yes, the order-at-the-bar thing is very difficult! I spend most of my time away with work, and often dine alone. I've sometimes taken my notepad down with me to leave on the table so it's obvious it's occupied. I have also, more than once, got up from the breakfast table to refill my orange juice and come back two minutes later to find my half-eaten breakfast and untouched coffee have been cleared away!

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Yup, I was travelling solo last week, and deployed the cardigan quite a lot as a marker

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Good idea!

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author

How frustrating! Were other customers plates being cleared with the same speed?

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They did seem to be swooping as soon as a table was vacated, which is easy to spot when a party gets up to leave en masse. I'd have appreciated a moment's pause to make sure the single person had indeed left mid-hash brown!

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Wine by the glass isn't too bad I find these days though the selection is rarely as good as it is by the bottle

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Aug 10, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

I has go tmuch better, but outside big cities still can be poor

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Aug 10, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Decades of solo travel for business (thankfully stopped in 2019) and the at best thoughtless and at worst degrading treatment of women is a recurring theme, both in hotels and in restaurants. The best experience was in Barrafina, where they regularly picked me out of a queue as a solo woman (ahead of solo men), sat me next to female or mixed couples and asked if I wanted to chat or just to eat in peace. Variously in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Southampton and Edinburgh I’ve had my room number loudly announced to a queue of business men, been put on a table where the loo door banged my knee, asked if I was sure I wanted a second glass of wine, repeatedly put on display perched on a tiny high stool at a window, asked why I had no workmates to accompany me, asked why I hadn’t brought a book to occupy myself, had the amount and type of food I ordered questioned - the list goes on and on. I gave short shrift each time but honestly, the fight for equality is barely started.

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author

Oh goodness that really is depressing. Should obviously count myself lucky then. I did notice that the waiters were happy to chat to other tables but only came to mine if I caught their eye to order another (presumably inappropriate) glass of wine!

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Aug 10, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

I’m really pleased to see you’ve raised it with the hotel - hopefully they’ll put some thought into making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

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I’ve usually had good experiences in France as a single traveller, but yesterday in Chinon was a notable exception. I arrived at a restaurant for lunch before 1pm. It was busy and I hadn’t reserved but I saw a small unoccupied table outside next to the door. I asked if I could sit there and was told no, the terrace was full. I was led inside to a dark table furthest from outside and indeed all other tables. I had a 2pm appointment so didn’t complain and ordered right away from the lunch prix fixe menu of main and dessert. 45 minutes later I hadn’t received any food and it was impossible for me to catch the eye of any of the staff. I left my table to ask if there was a problem with my order, since I had been waiting for so long and now had a mere ten minutes left to eat. The maitre d told me that as I was the last person to sit down obviously I would be served last. And that all the food was prepared fresh. A minute later the food appeared. No apology, and I was made to feel as if I’d offended them. L’océanique was the restaurant, if you’d care to avoid it. Passable food, appalling service.

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author

That's shockingly bad!

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Yep, I was pretty shocked

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Aug 10, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Is this the same in all countries and classes of hotel though? The experience described is just one hotel in the UK. I can‘t speak for women, but as a solo male traveller I‘ve been very well treated, e.g. in Mexico, London, Hong Kong . . .

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No I don't think it is but this was a decent hotel. Can't prove it but I do think single male travellers get treated better on the whole

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I‘m pretty sure that‘s true, but it‘s good not to generalise from a single experience to the general. Maybe it would be a good idea to build a list of hotels where women think they‘ve been treated well . . . As well as calling out those where they‘re not? Just a suggestion - obv not my call!

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Well TBH was quite surprised in this day and age. More than happy for people to tell me about their good experiences too!

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

I used to travel solo for work a lot in my twenties and early thirties, so a fair while back. I found that my experience was far better overseas than in the UK (caveat that the sample was, of course limited and I know I'm generalising on the body of my own experiences). When I was working in Europe (usually Greek islands, or Spanish and Portuguese coastal resorts) I was usually given a good table and waiting staff often made an extra effort to chat to me and check I was OK. In the UK it was definitely a mixed bag but I'm quite assertive so I'd ask for better rooms or tables if I was sidelined for being solo. Sad that it's still a thing, especially the outdated idea that bills and wine lists are automatically given to the male at the table. Uuugh!

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Really is exteaordinary. Best practice would be to ask which of you wants to chose the wine

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I haven't travelled alone for some time now, but am very disappointed to hear that things haven't improved much in the last 10 years!!!! I used to travel alone, all over the world, for work on a regular basis and would always try and stay in places with room service as it just avoided all the painful and insulting experiences you describe. I recall a couple of hotel chains making an effort to promote 'special' rooms and facilities, (a hair-dryer, whoop de whoo) for women travellers, but it felt like a very token gesture. Maybe it's time for a 'by women, for women' hotel enterprise??? Anyone????

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author

Great business idea! You should do it!!

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Having just started a new business, I can't see myself behind another enterprise for quite some time.....I am sure there must be some female entrepreneurs who could/would pick it up. I agree it needs to be in a big city somewhere, so definitely not my scene. I love living in the Italian countryside!!!!

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Who wouldn’t! Good luck with the business

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Thank you very much!!! Literally 4 weeks today since the official opening and the feedback has been very positive. It seems my plan to offer things that are 'different', (Asian, Indian, Mexican, Fish and chips etc etc) is being well received by locals and the few non Italian residents around. We're keeping everything crossed that our local 50th Anniversary 'Festa' will get us a lot more exposure and followers.

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Assuming it’s legal! Not sure it would be unless a club. And would really only work in a city centre

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Aug 10, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Hope you find some good hotel experiences in Scotland Fiona, I'd be interested to know as it's my home turf ☺️. Especially if your heading up to rural parts. And travelling through Ballachulish in Argyll.....just sayin...have fun! X

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Well staying with friends a lot of the time but will be interesting to see what other places are like

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Male not mail obvs!

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Take a notebook and camera/ phone with you to the dining room. Let them think that you might be The Hotel Inspector,

R.I.P. Bernard Cribbins......

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Cunning plan!

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I travel a lot as a solo woman for work, and occasionally for myself. In general, the more "chain-type" hotels like Marriott, IHG, hilton etc are very good. If I've ever had issues, it tends to be in the smaller, more local spots. But to be honest, it's rare to have issues as a solo woman. The main problems tend to come from men who think they can approach you when having a drink at the bar.

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That is true!

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I frequently travel on my own in this country and abroad, for pleasure and business. Mainly I get a good experience, sometimes I don’t. But I just correct them or asked to be moved etc

I find big cities are better than rural places and during the week is better than weekends, as they believe you are more likely to be travelling for business then

In Asia, the experience was always fantastic, with extra special service and often the best table

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Yes, definitely better in the city. Not necessarily in Europe though.

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Italy is probably the country where I’ve had the least pleasant experiences. Nowadays, I don’t let it bother me. Quite often they are more embarrassed when you correct them

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Wasn’t so much bothered - except about the table - just taken aback!

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Honestly! Is your money not good enough? What is superior about a table of couples or a group? Do women on their own not need/want to eat?

Spot of passive aggression in order, I would have thought. “My husband has died”. They try to make you feel bad, just reciprocate!

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Was so taken aback I w as left speechless. (Unusually for me 😉)

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Would be interested to know which hotel in Northumberland…

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Well didn't say cos I'm in the process of taking it up with them to give them a chance to respond

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