For a long time, eating out alone had been seen as a daunting prospect. But, times are changing. Rather than being something to feel embarrassed or nervous about, an increasing number of people are now embracing the solo dining trend.
But just how big is this growing group of solo diners? To find out, we surveyed 2,000 people from across the UK to find out how they feel about eating out alone. Who’s doing it the most and what is fuelling the trend?
According to our survey, a whopping 73% of Brits would have no problem enjoying a meal out on their own, with only 27% saying they would never do it. And not only are we becoming more comfortable with the idea of dining alone, we’re also doing it increasingly often. In fact, 25% of the people we spoke to said they had eaten a meal out alone in the last month, with 14% having done so in the last week.
This trend is the same across both genders, with 77% of men and 69% of women saying they would be happy to eat a meal out on their own.
Unsurprisingly, millennials seem to be driving this change in attitude, with 80% of 25-34 year olds saying they’re more than happy to dine out alone, and 22% having done so in the past week. At the other end of the scale, 16-24 year olds are the least likely to enjoy a meal by themselves, with 32% saying they never would.
Our research crowned Bristol as the solo dining capital of the UK, with 32% of Bristolians having eaten out alone in the last month. The top 10 solo dining cities were:
While we’re becoming much more comfortable with eating out on our own, people’s comfort levels still vary depending on which meal they’re eating.
Lunch was the most popular solo dining meal, with 73% of people saying they’d be happy eating their midday meal out alone. Breakfast came in a close second, with 72% saying they’d be comfortable dining alone in the morning, followed by brunch with 70%. Dinner was the least popular, with only 57% of people saying they’d feel comfortable eating an evening meal out without company.
Rather than feeling conscious about dining alone, some quality ‘me’ time was actually a key motivator for many people in our survey. When asked what the biggest benefit of eating alone was, our top answer was ‘you get to enjoy time by yourself’. Some of the other reasons people gave for dining out alone included:
We also asked people what they do to entertain themselves when they’re eating alone. For people who still feel nervous about dining out solo, having something to keep yourself amused can help you feel less self-conscious. The top 10 things people in our survey reported doing while dining out alone were:
Certain restaurants just feel better suited for those looking to eat out alone. Rather than choosing somewhere too formal, pick somewhere with a good amount of hustle and bustle. Asian restaurants are a popular choice for solo diners, as they often offer communal seating and feature open kitchens, which can provide plenty of in-meal entertainment.
Don’t worry about booking when dining on your own. One of the biggest benefits is that you can often get seated much quicker as a solo diner than when you’re eating with a group
While an increasing number of restaurants offer communal seating, this isn’t your only option. Why not try sitting at the bar and chatting to the bar staff? Or you could take a seat on the outskirts of the restaurant and spend your meal engaging in some good old-fashioned people watching!
Despite what you may think, nobody else in the restaurant will care that you’re eating on your own. Chances are, everyone is so involved in their own meals that they won’t have paid any attention to you at all. Just sit back and enjoy yourself!
Rather than view it as a downside, make the most of having some time to yourself. With nobody else eating with you, you can really savour your meal, ordering whatever you want and enjoying every mouthful.
Travelling alone and looking for somewhere to stay? Book your stay with Jurys Inn today.
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