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The time we were asked to leave …

The time we were asked to leave …

This past weekend, I visited London with the family and I was super excited to try Nopi, an Ottolenghi restaurant, because I had gotten the recommendation from a true foodie. After not getting a table at Sketch or Momo’s (where we wanted to go for afternoon tea), we decided to head to Nopi for cocktails in Soho instead. You guys know how much I love sharing amazing restaurants, hotels and other places with you, but unfortunately today’s reason for this post is a negative experience … Don’t get me wrong, the cocktails were absolutely delicious and the food looked amazing, plus I liked the interior a lot. However, the way we were treated is absolutely not o.k. in my opinion. Here’s what happened:

Nopi Ottolenghi Soho - Bikinis & Passports

We entered Nopi at 5pm and Mike asked if they had room for 6 (since we were turned down at Sketch and Momo’s beforehand). The hostess replied a nice yes and asked to take our coats until the table was ready. All good so far. About 5 minutes later we sat down and were brought the menu, the waiter soon came over, filled everyone’s water glasses and took our orders for cocktails (all around 12 GPB, btw). In the meantime the lady that took us to our table (who seemed to be part of the management) asked if we wanted to get started with food. My mom replied that we were just having a quick cocktail and wouldn’t be eating. This is where it all turned from good to bad. “What do you mean you’re not eating? But you asked for a table?”. Mike then kindly told her that we just asked if they had room for six and were just going to have a quick cocktail. Answer: “Oh, I am not sure we can do that. Let me get the manager.” Then the manager came and told us that for a party as large as ours, it was not ok to sit down for just drinks. We informed them that it must have been a misunderstanding and we’d be out in about 30 minutes. Next, the hostess that gave us the table was also brought over to our table by the manager to explain how we even got the table in the first place. She mentioned that we had tricked her and had clearly asked for a table for 6. Mike then tried to explain, that yes, we had asked if they had room for 6, but no one ever talked about dinner (at 5pm …). Her reply was seriously so unprofessional in my eyes: “Sir, I don’t know where you are from, but here in London, we don’t give out tables just for drinks, especially not for 6 people!”
Now, I do understand that people go to the pub to have drinks, and maybe they have dinner at 5pm in London. But it is not like we were going to be there forever, plus we were all having cocktails, which weren’t exactly cheap. It might just be me, but with 3 people standing around us, telling us how things work in London, and making us feel super unwelcome, it totally ruined the entire experience and delicious cocktails. Such a bummer!

Nopi Ottolenghi Soho - Bikinis & Passports Nopi Ottolenghi Soho - Bikinis & Passports Nopi Ottolenghi Soho - Bikinis & Passports Nopi Ottolenghi Soho - Bikinis & Passports Nopi Ottolenghi Soho - Bikinis & Passports Nopi Ottolenghi Soho - Bikinis & Passports

The only one that really impressed me was our waiter, who we later found out had only started 3 days earlier. He kept filling our glasses with water while the rest of the staff wanted to get rid of us. He didn’t stop serving us even when the manager came over, he high-fived my sister after he had successfully brought over all the drinks (he was proud that he got it all right on his 3rd day) and he was super friendly the entire time.
Either we really did something that is totally unacceptable in London, or the management needs a little lesson in how to treat their customers. Either way, just goes to show that good food or drinks alone don’t make a restaurant experience good – it’s the people that make or break the deal! Sorry, Nopi, we won’t be back – not even for dinner, which would allow us to actually sit down.

34 Comments

  • 4 years ago

    Very rude and unprofessional. There are better ways to tell people that you don’t accept “drink only” guests, if this is the manner in London. On the last New Year’s Eve I went to Berlin, and at 7PM my boyfriend and I entered one lovely restaurant just for a drink, because we had plans to celebrate on Brandenburg gate, but it was too early. And although everything was booked for Silvester night, kind waiter let us in and gave us a table that was already arranged for the celebration and obviously booked, with a kindly explanation that we can only stay there for an hour. That is what I call great service, not fancy interior with rude stuff.

  • 4 years ago

    Wow. I’ve never been to London, but if a restaurant tried to pull something like that in my city, I would’ve been just as turned off. Obviously you were being courteous and weren’t planning on taking up a table all night. Plus, it was happy hour! Most people I know just go for drinks around that time. Sorry for your bad experience, but I definitely think it was more about the restaurant and them just wanting to get as much $$ out of a table as possible.

    http://shopnowrunlater.com/

  • 4 years ago

    Sehr schade. Aber mit so einer unfreundlichen und unsympathischen Attitüde wird man auf als Restaurant/Bar hoffentlich nicht lange erfolgreich sein. liebe grüße

  • Sarah
    4 years ago

    Well, I have to say this is not an unlikely situation to be in if you go to London. I don’t necessarily agree that you were treated badly because that is just how it works there (I am english). In England you do in fact have dinner quite early and if you ask for a table for 6 at that time of day, they expect you to eat there, at least have a little nibble of something. In this situation I have to say you were just not familiar with how things work in London and you shouldn’t give the restaurant a bad review because of cultural differences. Maybe just try to learn what the norms are in the places you visit before reacting like this to a situation unfamiliar to you. I really don’t want to be rude, I am just talking from the locals point of view.
    By the way – it’s “glasses” not “classes”..

    • vicky
      4 years ago

      Hi Sarah,

      personally, I think that I was more than fair in my review. I stated that I loved the interior, the drinks were delicious and the food looked good. I think that a restaurant experience, whether for dinner or not, should always include some kind of service. Yes, it may have been a misunderstanding due to cultural differences, but I think it is also their job to respond in an according manner. And my bad about the typo – already fixed 🙂

    • 4 years ago

      I never respond to comments like these, but I feel a need to this time. I went to London this summer and had a lovely time. I was never treated poorly in a restaurant either. I do think this is probably an unusual situation.

      With that said, restaurants are in the service industry. As in the industry to serve their customers. Regardless of the “norms” of English culture, I can almost guarantee that being rude is not part of it. The staff seems to have reacted poorly to a problem that they caused. The hostess should have clarified if the group was eating, and if they weren’t it’s her job to let them know they can only be seated if they’ll be eating and to politely apologize for the inconvenience. And to add to it, this is London – a city that is incredibly touristy and attracts people from all over the globe. If this was a small English town that doesn’t get many visitors, I could maybe understand the staff having trouble dealing with the situation. But a restaurant in London should know how to serve people from all different cultures and create a comfortable and inviting experience for everyone. Quality customer service really is quite simple, regardless of cultural norms and differences. I think Vicky’s review is totally fair.

  • 4 years ago

    Wow, wie unhöflich! Das fällt in meinen Augen absolut nicht unter Kundenservice, da kann das Konsumierte noch so gut sein, wenn einem das Gefühl gegeben wird, unerwünscht zu sein. Ich hoffe, die lesen das 😉 Danke jedenfalls für die Offenheit und Ehrlichkeit!

  • xaviere
    4 years ago

    so laeuft das aber in london. no food no table.everywhere. klar haette man netter sein koennen und nicht zig leute herbringen muessen, aber wie bekannt, gibt ea in london ein massives platzproblem. fuer drinks muss man immer nur an die bar.

  • 4 years ago

    Wow that’s so rude, it’s not like you would have stayed the entire evening. I think that’s so unprofessional from the restaurant manager and I seriously hope that they come across your article 🙂
    One of the reasons why I never go for a big dinner in the restaurants of London is the unfriendliness of the staff. I just don’t get why I should leave my money at a place where they treat me so badly.
    There’s of course also very very friendly people in London but as far as my restauration experience goes,big no no 🙂

    http://fashionbarbecue.com/

  • Jane
    4 years ago

    Nicht sehr gastfreundlich, aber ich kenne das auch so und find es deshalb in der Sache ehrlich gesagt ziemlich nachvollziehbar (den Ton und die Art natürlich nicht), v.a. wenn der eingedeckte Tisch auf dem Foto euer war. Ich würde mich nie an einen komplett eingeckten Tisch setzen, wenn ich nur Drinks wollte, bzw. immer vorher fragen ob es okay ist. Dafür gibt es ja dann im Restaurant oft auch Bars bzw. einen Bar-Bereich. Liebe Grüße!

  • Bonnie Clairchen
    4 years ago

    Das ist absolut nicht typisch für London. Von seiner Regel habe ich noch nie gehört. Meine Eltern reisen oft nach London und auch die waren über so ein verhalten schockiert.

  • annika
    4 years ago

    Mir ist in Stockholm auch einmal Ähnliches passiert, aber da wurde uns zumindest höflich mitgeteilt, dass wir bitte keinen Tisch belegen sollen…
    Ich finde es ein bisschen komisch, dass in deinem Travelguide auf tdd nur positiv über dieses Restaurant berichtet wird – vielleicht könntest du dort ja einfach diesen Post verlinken für LeserInnen, die deinen privaten Blog nicht lesen?

    • vicky
      4 years ago

      Hallo liebe Annika,

      danke dir für dein Input. Ich habe diesen Review ehrlich gesagt nur geschrieben, weil ich es wichtig finde, auch solche Erfahrungen mit euch zu teilen – die ausführliche Geschichte allerdings im Travel Diary keinen Platz hat. Ausserdem haben dir Drinks ja auch wirklich toll geschmeckt (auch die Kombination von Ingwer und Jungkoriander hat mich begeistert) und unser Kellner war super. Das wollte ich eigentlich auch, dass aus dem Text hervorgeht. Es ging mir nicht darum das Restaurant zu “zerreissen”, sondern ich wollte schlichtweg diese (mMn ungute) Vorgehensweise in einer solchen Situation teilen. Ich bin mir sicher, es ist ansonsten ein super Restaurant!

      Alles Liebe,
      Vicky

      • annika
        4 years ago

        Das versteh ich voll! tdd ist halt eher eine Art Magazin und das hier mehr wie ein öffentliches Tagebuch, da können die Inhalte auch mal unterschiedlich gewichtet sein.

  • Alisa
    4 years ago

    Denselben Service erhält man auch im 25h.

  • 4 years ago

    Das ist ja wirklich verrückt! Da kommt man sich direkt vor, als hätte man was verbrochen, weil man “nur” was trinken möchte… Aber Respekt vor dem Kellner, wenige Leute wären in seiner Situation so korrekt gewesen- ich hoffe, er hat seinen Job immer noch! Dass man in London bzw. England quasi was essen MUSS, ist mir bisher auch nicht bekannt gewesen und überrascht mich echt… Ich hoffe, der Rest eurer Reise war trotzdem toll!

    Liebe Grüße
    Marina

  • Lisa
    4 years ago

    Liebe Vicky,
    ich hab 2,5 Jahre in London gelebt und musste mich auch erst auf einige Restaurant-Gepflogenheiten eingrooven, u.a. dass man meist nur einen Tisch bekommt, wenn man auch isst (meine Eltern wollen es bis heute nicht wirklich verstehen). Verbuche es einfach unter “Kulturelles Missverständnis” gepaart mit zugegebener Maßen einem nicht idealen Customer Service. Nächstes Mal weißt du es ja jetzt besser 😉 Und schön immer im Voraus reservieren, das war auch ein Learning für mich. LG.

  • 4 years ago

    Indeed, so rude! And very disappointing. So sorry for you !!

    http://www.janesneakpeak.com/

  • 4 years ago

    So ein Verhalten ist wirklich inakzeptabel. Aber leider kenne ich das selbst nur zu gut. Letztes Jahr war ich für ein paar Tage in Zürich und durfte dies am eigenen Leibe miterleben. Bei uns war es jedoch so, das wir bereits in einem anderen Lokal zu Abend gegessen haben und woanders nur noch etwas gemütlich trinken wollten. Man bat uns einen Tisch an und maulte uns dann an, wie wir nicht erwähnen konnten, dass wir nichts essen wollen? Wir wurden daraufhin auch sehr unfreundlich raus gebeten – so etwas geht absolut nicht.

    xox Sabrina
    http://www.fashionandchocolate.de

  • Miss Steffi
    4 years ago

    Also die Art und Weise geht natürlich gar nicht, aber ehrlich gesagt wundert es mich schon dass Du so überrascht bist – Du wohnst doch in Wien und da würde auch keiner auf die Idee kommen, sich zur Hauptessenszeit in ein Restaurant an einen gedeckten Tisch zu setzen und nur Cocktails zu trinken.

    • vicky
      4 years ago

      Liebe Steffi,

      in Wien ist 17:00 nicht Hauptessenszeit 🙂

      Alles Liebe,
      Vicky

  • claudia
    4 years ago

    der Ton macht die Musik! ist und ist uns in Paris permanent passiert- es ist immer die Art und Weise wie man einem Gast etwas sagt!- geht auch höflich und respektvoll!

  • Uli
    4 years ago

    Da ist wirklich keine schöne Erinnerung die du da mitgenommen hast.

    Leider ist das in allen Läden die “trendy” sind gang und gebe in central London. Ich selbst habe für Soho House in Soho als waitress gearbeitet und da war auch täglich ab 17:00 dinner time. Da da viele Gäste vor dem Theater/Musical essen gehen. Die Gäste hatten den Tisch auch immer nur für 1 1/2 stunden reservieren können, wenn die Turn Time näher rückte mussten wir auch wenn die Gäste noch beim Dessert waren die Rechnung bringen und Abkassieren, dann hatten wir meist 2 Minuten zeit um den Tisch neu zu decken. Beschwerden gab es dabei meist auch nur von Touristen, denen diese Gegebenheit unbekannt war. Trotzdem ist es nicht in Ordnung es so darzustellen dass die Gäste einen Ausgetrickst hätten und etwas vorgeben haben um einen Tisch zu bekommen!
    Alles Liebe, Uli

    • vicky
      4 years ago

      Liebe Uli,

      danke dir für dieses sehr schön geschriebenen Kommentar. Ich muss ehrlich gestehen, es war mir absolut nicht bewusst, dass in London ab 17:00 Abend gegessen wird. Hier in Wien geht man ehr zwischen 19:00 und 21:00 in ein Restaurant. Da wir es davor für Afternoon Tea im Sketch und Momo’s versucht hatten, kam uns dieser Gedanke gar nicht in den Sinn. Ich verstehe es sehr wohl, dass ein Lokal zur “Prime Time” die Tische nicht für Drinks hergeben möchte, allerdings war der Umgang mit uns einfach total peinlich. Als ob wir ein Verbrechen begangen hätten. Ich denke es gibt, wie du schon angemerkt hast, freundlichere Möglichkeiten eine solche Situation zu lösen.

      Ganz liebe Grüße,
      Vicky

  • 4 years ago

    Here in Southampton they have the same ‘rules’ in some places; we went out for cocktails but were told before hand that we weren’t allowed to sit on the tables although most of them were free and it was very late at night so people probably wouldn’t have come to consume any food anyway. I don’t know why they do that, might be an English thing haha 🙂 xx

  • Sonya
    4 years ago

    It’s definitely an English thing. I live in London from another country and I’ve noticed the ‘politeness’ factor disappears as soon as the rules are stretched a little bit. The British are obsessed with their rules and often resort to rudeness if they find that the rules have been broken. It’s like a natural reaction they can’t control. So I am not surprised. Given the prices of those cocktails (a small fortune – and no matter how good they were, they were overpriced, but that’s also typical of London), you guys should have been allowed to drink them in peace. Sorry for the experience, but I wish I could say I was surprised.

  • 4 years ago

    That’s not very hospitable at all. I agree that you were most fair in your review and you pointed out the positives which was that the food and drinks were good. The service however, no matter how it could be looked at, seemed to be lacking. After all, she could have just clarified that she had given the table to you guys because she misunderstood that you would only be having drinks at 5 instead of dinner. No need to insinuate that you “tricked” her at all! That seemed like a pretty silly thing to do for a very small misunderstanding.

    I would end up saying the management could clearly have handled it better. Staff would not be as defensive as this if they were given the support they needed. There wouldn’t be a need for blame pushing if management would be fair about such scenarios. I would never visit even if I were to head to London. Good number of places to go for drinks and dinner – great service saves even the crappiest restaurant, but bad service just ruins an otherwise wonderful place.

    Glad you came out of it classy and it is your right to make a stand about the service you received.

  • 4 years ago

    Oh man das klingt ja wirklich schrecklich. Ich war auch schon einige male in London und mir ist sowas noch nicht passiert. Zum Glück. Ist ja auch egal zu welcher Uhrzeit man in London zu Abend isst, ob man nur einen Tisch bekommt wenn man auch Essen bestellt etc. – es geht im die Art und Weise! Der Ton macht die Musik – so wie immer. Liebe Grüße, Fiona THEDASHINGRIDER.com

  • Annie
    4 years ago

    Similar thing happened to me in Belgium. More than once (in a few different places). Funnily, I keep coming back to Belgium time after time… I guess when you go abroad more often you get used to different cultures and grow more tolerant of things being done differently than at home. I think it’s a good thing.

  • L.
    4 years ago

    Hej Vicky, I made nearly the same experience at Laduree in Paris. But it was even worse, because we wanted to leave the restaurant before our drinks arrived because of a mouse running through the restaurant and picking up food leftovers from the floor. Completely nasty for a restaurant of this price range (actually not tolerable for any restaurant). I will never visit Laduree again – especially not because the waiter and the management was completely unprofessional.
    L.

  • 4 years ago

    Also man kann so etwas ja auch höflich sagen, vor allem wenn der Kunde König ist. Außerdem ist es ja normalerweise so, dass wenn ein Betrieb eine Bar hat und man nicht vor hat zu essen, wird man höflich an die Bar verwiesen. Wenn sie keine Bar haben, verstehe ich ehrlich gesagt nicht, wo das Problem liegt.

  • lila
    4 years ago

    Was ich nicht verstehe: Warum seid ihr geblieben und habt bei so einer Reaktion den Laden nicht sofort verlassen?

  • 4 years ago

    We had a not very nice experience in an Ottolenghi restaurant in Chelsea… It was not as bad as yours but I guess they don’t have the best customer service.
    xx,
    E.
    http://www.theslowpace.com

  • Catherine
    4 years ago

    Very unprofessional. Poor customer service is never worth it.

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