How To Make The Best Use Of Your Outdoor Table Bookings

People are definitely torn over how they feel about table bookings for hospitality at the moment. Gone are the days, at least for now of deciding to head out, and seeing where the day or night takes you. Under the current circumstances any sort of spontaneity is gone. Tables need to be planned ahead and booked, with the end of your time slot telling you when to move on. Here’s some of the ways I’ve found to get the best out of your outdoor table bookings.  

Personally I really enjoy knowing I’ve got a seat everywhere, avoiding queues at the bar that take ages, and having everything just brought to me. But a day out for cocktails with the girls, catch ups with friends we’ve not seen for months and even date nights need planning to precision which can be really restrictive. Even for planners like me.

The effort that went into our itinerary in Newcastle last Saturday honestly went on for weeks. And last Thursday when my old work friends and I went to just one place, it took about 45 minutes before we were all sat with a drink in hand, fully tracked and traced, ordered and actually catching up.

When you’re on a time limit here’s how to make the best use of your outdoor table bookings without having to neck the one drink you’ve ordered before times up.

Book your tables well in advance.

Find a date where everyone’s free, set a start time and book your first table for somewhere you really want to go, that’s top priority. If you have to move around tables later you want to keep the best one secure.

Work out a route that makes it easy on yourself.

It’s not how a day out drinking should be, planned with military precision, but at the moment it’s the only way to make sure you aren’t rushing all over the city in different directions, stressed you’ll miss the cut off and lose the table. A very obvious one but book bars near to each other!

Use the special request section.

After last weekend I’ll be making full use of this on every booking form. Some places have different types of seating areas, and we rocked up to Beach Box and were basically put on a bench with bean bags and didn’t have a table. It was absolutely fine, but it might not be for everyone. If you want undercover, by a heater, in the sun, there’s no harm requesting it. 

Be prepared to pay deposits…

…but be clear on if they’re redeemable or not. I’m not surprised that more places are either taking card details to charge for no shows – rude, or taking deposits. Just be clear on if you get it taken off your bill or not to avoid lengthy conversations with staff on the day. The longer you have to deal with admin the less time you have to enjoy the table. 

Screenshot and keep your confirmation emails

And if you book over the phone ask for an email confirming too. It’s a free for all, ruthless game when it comes to table availability so avoid any doubt with written proof. 

Give yourself 15 mins between bookings

If a table ends at half past book the next one for quarter to, or you’ll have to cut short your time to get there. Most places offer a ten minute grace time in case you’re running late but with so many people trying to take advantage of no shows I’d still ring ahead if you’re going to be late. It’s just courtesy.

Set alarms

For later in the day or night especially if you’re out on the drink for a longer period of time and may get carried away shall we say. Then you don’t have to clock watch. Again, not ideal or how it should be but needs must. 

Download all the apps you need before you get there.

All bars and restaurants are pretty clear on their websites how you’ll be able to order and if they have an app. Don’t waste time during your reservation time downloading, remembering your Apple ID password, losing signal and figuring out how it works. Do it all beforehand. Including the NHS track and trace app as they all ask you to use it.

Have ID ready.

Almost every bar last weekend asked for ID and it wasn’t just to check your age, they were making their own records of guests I’m assuming as part of the latest regulations. Some even took photos of us all. Have it with you to avoid wasting time before you’ve even sat down, regardless of how old you are.

Don’t forget your mask!

Not everywhere has them to buy on the door. I love my Everywhere MSK as it’s attached to my keys.

Read the menus before you go to reduce time.

We all commented that for the first ten minutes at our table we were too busy browsing menus on our phones to speak to each other. Decide your order in advance so you can do it when you’re shown to your table. That way you don’t have to wait for someone to come back.

Agree on rounds and pay altogether.

Nothing more tedious than six people paying separately. Goodbye valuable cocktail time.

Double park yourself with two drinks a round.

I really don’t mean to criticise hospitality at all as they’ve had a very rough ride, but we did find that the service in some places wasn’t great. Staff are likely to be new, unfamiliar with the menu, training or a bit rusty so cut them some slack. Order two drinks to avoid having to wait between each round and don’t complain.

I feel like I need to add in a drink responsibly PSA here – don’t overdo it! 

For anywhere that isn’t within walking distance, pre book taxis or Uber’s

And finally, cancel any outdoor table bookings you don’t want or need anymore with as much notice as possible. Even if it’s short notice don’t just be a no show. Everyone’s desperate for tables, people haven’t seen friends in a long time and someone will be happy with your table if you can’t make it. It will also reduce the likelihood of more places charging and taking deposits. 

A boring but practical blog today and hope it helps! If you do decide to go out last minute and can’t get booked anywhere, this instagram post has a list of bars in Newcastle that accept walk ins.

And my most popular blog at the moment that should help with your outdoor table bookings – bars and pubs with outdoor terraces.

Other posts you might like:

Local NCL – Jesmond’s new coffee house and shop on Acorn Rd

16 Bottle shops and Breweries in Newcastle and the North East

A locals guide to Whitley Bay

Things to do in Amble and Warkworth – from the locals!


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