As I mentioned in last week’s Friday 5 I’m off off on a 3 week road trip to Scotland! I stopped overnight in Northumberland - nice hotel, good food, comfortable room - but there were a couple of things that really got my goat.
The hotel asking me when I arrived if my husband was parking the car (my husband died 7 years ago and anyway they shouldn’t have made the assumption that I must be accompanied by a mail partner)
Being put in a room off the main dining room next to a table that was just leaving so I would have been sitting on my own for the evening. Obviously I asked to be moved.
And not being handed a wine list.🙄
I haven’t come across this before as I mainly travel professionally or with friends but have heard before of single women being given the worst table in the room.
How about you? Have you or anyone you know come across anything similar as a solo traveller - male or female? Would love to know whether this is still common and if so, how you dealt with it.
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.
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!
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 😳
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
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!
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????
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
Male not mail obvs!
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......
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.
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
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!
Would be interested to know which hotel in Northumberland…