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A Single Diner’s Dilemma for our Readers

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As it was a business trip I was without a companion when I visited Marbella. I imagine that all across the country there are tens of thousands of people who for many reasons travel alone.

Taking one last glance around my room before turning the key to the hotel door I set off with high hopes of enjoying a relaxing meal in a local restaurant. However, that was one of the loneliest nights of my life. It was like spending Christmas alone.

As I strolled through the good life plazas and typical restaurant-filled calle I occasionally found a free table. When I did so a waiter would brusquely dissuade me by claiming the table was reserved.

On the one hand, I can see a restaurant owner’s preference for a table for two or better still a table for four rather than it being taken by a solitary diner.

But where does that leave solo holidaymakers, travellers and single diners?  In my case, it left me ‘dining’ on a hotdog and a bag of crisps in the hotel room.

A lady spoke for many singletons when she penned these poignant words: ‘I have been on vacation alone this time in La Zenia and Villa Martin and suffered a bad experience. When going to a restaurant at night I most often experience reluctance by restaurants to offer me a table for only one person.

‘After I finally get a table, I notice that if a couple, or a group, that neither has had a reservation arrives, are offered a table right away.

I also have experienced that if I get a table, they often offer me a table that was not prepared for guest(s); the table is missing table cloths, plates or glass, that is a sad experience for the area I have loved for 20 years,’ writes Julia M. Clarke.

A sympathetic victim writes, ‘I used to experience this response too. I could name the particular restaurants but it wouldn’t help. Sadly, it sometimes takes a lot for a single woman to go for a restaurant meal by herself and to be treated like a second-class person, makes it even harder.’

It is tough on single men too, especially men who are getting on in years. After my wife had the urge to give our home a thorough cleaning, I thought it was time for a quick exit.

Arriving in Santa Pola on the Southern Costa Blanca there was no problem on that off-season day with tables being free. There did appear to be a problem with a ‘grumpy old git’ occupying one of several unused tables.

For 20 minutes I was the invisible man. I presumed I remained invisible as disgruntled I finally departed for home with my unused wallet in my pocket after being totally ignored by the waiting on staff.

In fairness, the staff of Chinese restaurants never discriminate against single visitors. Perhaps they have the nous to realise that single diners have family and friends too and a table for one can magically be turned into a table for four or more if a little kindness and understanding is shown.

It is estimated that one-third to half of people are single. An astute restauranteur will see a potential goldmine not a drain on his resources.


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