Although I love travelling solo, there’s one thing that never seems to have become socially acceptable – dining alone. I’m not a big fan of it, even though (as those I’ve eaten with can testify) I’m one of the world’s slowest eaters, which means having no one to compare my speed with is actually a good thing!

Usually I simply avoid the more traditional restaurants where tables for one stick out like sore thumbs, and instead opt for interesting tiny places where no one notices, or genius restaurants like Wagamamas where it’s canteen style, or, even better – eat take-out in the beautiful outdoors.

Last night, in cold, wet Edinburgh, this was not an option. In fact, being on my own wasn’t in the original plan either. It was meant to be a jaunt with my mother, she was flying in from Belfast as I flew in from London. Only problem was that by the time I landed, her flight had been cancelled meaning that she wouldn’t make it to the event we were attending together and thus making the entire trip pointless. Thus, at the end of the day I found myself ravenous and ended up all alone in a respectable Italian chain restaurant.

I was seated with a nice window view and my back to the rest of the place. My waiter was attentive (to the point of trying to remove my plate when I was only half-done – it’s that slow eating thing again…) and after he brought my drink he asked if he could get me a newspaper.

This surprised me, and then made me giggle. I think it was Carrie Bradshaw who once said that a lady could dine alone as long as she was equipped with one weapon – reading material. Did I look so pathetic sat there alone that my waiter felt bad? He needn’t have worried though, I was of course, in possession of a book – I’m never without one. His next trip to my table saw me engrossed in my current read (a delightful piece of travel-writing exploring George Orwell’s Burma) and thus protected from other people’s pity.

An hour or so later, while paying the bill, we chatted about the ridiculousness of having to get up at 5.30am on a Sunday (see yesterday’s post) and the wonders of London versus Edinburgh. I will say one thing for dining alone, it does give you the perfect opportunity to flirt with flirty waiters. Plus, the quality of waiters in the Scottish capital is excellent…


  1. Agreed. Dining alone can be a little sad. When I backpacked (solo!) through Europe walking around alone didn’t bother me but sitting alone in a restaurant always seemed a little lonely. I am ever grateful for the people who “adopted” me for a meal and let me sit at their table! I completely plan to repay that kindness when I get the chance.

  2. I always thought that I would hate to dine alone but then a couple of years ago I was in London for a work trip and the friend I’d hoped to meet up with in the evening had to cancel so I went out to a restaurant on my own armed with a book and loved the experience. I felt so cosmopolitan! It was a revelation.

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