Impossible restaurant reservation? Ha!…
One of the endlessly fun things about travel is experiencing new cuisines and exciting restaurants, all around the world. There’s nothing quite like taking in the quintessential culinary experiences of life, like afternoon tea in London, sushi in Japan, steak in Argentina. The list goes on. And thanks to the rise of celebrity chefs and Instagram #foodporn, many foodies will now specifically choose a destination, just to seek out a restaurant, so reservation failure is simply not an option. But how do you make a reservation at a restaurant in Tokyo that doesn’t do email or OpenTable? Here’s how to secure tricky restaurant reservations, all around the world…
Restaurants in some cities can be downright snobby in dealing with those who don’t speak the language. Rather than putting internet translation services to work, emailing your hotel, in the city you plan to dine can be immensely helpful. Many restaurants will make additional tables available to concierge teams from reputable hotels, and speaking in native language helps to avoid any confusion… or arrogance. Find out when your favorite restaurant releases tables and query the concierge team well in advance. Plus – the hotel will be in the same time zone to pounce on tables as they are released! Simply email the hotel’s general team to get routed to the concierge.
Ok, we all know OpenTable. Connecting us to over 40,000 restaurants worldwide, it’s an extremely easy and simple way to reserve a restaurant table with just a tap in app, and is usually a great first look. But with the unknown and unreliable nature of the internet, many restaurants don’t release all available tables to OpenTable. Translation: some tables may still be available, so never give up on securing a restaurant reservation, just because no tables are available on the platform.
If you’re looking to secure that truly special, extremely hard to get reservation months in advance of your trip, like Sukiyabashi Jiro – Skype can be extremely valuable. The app offers incredibly low international calling rates compared to most providers, and monthly packages with unlimited calls to mobiles and landlines around the world – making it easy to keep calling back, if needed! Pair this with Google Translate to learn a few key phrases, and that table for $300 a person sushi is all yours!
Credit cards have many impressive features these days; but one extremely valuable perk comes in the form of concierge access. Premium credit cards like the Platinum Card from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige and many more offer personal concierge services via email or phone call. Not only are the concierge teams happy to attempt to make any reservation for you, if nothing is showing as available, they’re sometimes able to work some magic through preferred dining access. If a “no availability” comes back, never be afraid to ask if they can manually look into it and report back. Sometimes, the result can be nothing short of amazing. Hello, corner table! These concierge teams also make it easier to convey special occasions, which as you know – can lead to cool experiences.
If getting a $450 a year credit card doesn’t amuse you, then there’s always Hooch. Hooch first came on our radar when they were offering a free cocktail a day in select cities for $9.99 a month; which is pretty great value. But now, for $295 a year, or $25 a month, the service has evolved to offer a “free” cocktail a day, with the addition of exclusive travel discounts, preferred dining perks and personal concierge. If used regularly, this really can be worth it. In many big city restaurants, guests who make reservations through Hooch can receive a complimentary glass of champagne for each diner, free appetizer or dessert.
When all else fails or you find a hit restaurant that doesn’t take reservations, try walking in. It doesn’t hurt if you are a rockstar, but even a star commuter can pull the occasional rabbit out of a hat! To give yourself the best chance of success, walk in at non peak times. If the restaurant opens for dinner at 5.30, be there at 5.20 and be polite. If that’s too early for you, try 9 or later – when most people will be finishing up, or last minute cancellations start to pop up. Finally, lunch can be the perfect way to beat sold out dinner services. Michelin starred restaurants are usually far more affordable for lunch, and securing even a last minute table is so much easier. Bon appetite!