“a table for one please”

Changing my solo dining experience

One cold blistery early March evening I checked into this tiny little hotel ‘The Bosville’ in Portree, Isle of Skye.  From the outside it was like every other building in the street. Only one thing differentiated it.  There was a soothing light emanating from the tiny windows.  It was a welcome sight after the long day journeying through from the Scottish lowlands into the highlands, weaving through Glencoe  and finally ‘over the bridge to Skye’. 

Whilst the sun had come with me most of the day, the clouds had rolled in later in the afternoon and the rain with them.  I was weary, wet and hungry.

Dulse & Brose Restaurant, Portree, Isle of Skye 2019
Dulse & Brose Restaurant, Portree, Isle of Skye 2019

In anticipation of the later than usual arrival, I had rung earlier and booked a reservation for one in the restaurant ‘Dulse & Brose’.    A wise choice as time was to reveal.

I have always been challenged dining out alone.   At home its an easy one to avoid.  I just didn’t do it. However, when you travel it is often necessary to do.  Whilst the room service menu is convenient the options soon run out.  There is only so many times you can have a BLT or burger! 

At the beginning, dining out in the first hotel was confronting.  I was often placed in the corner and it felt like the waiters weren’t quite sure what to do with me.  I was very aware of how they were about me being there alone.  Then there is the judgments and pity often projected from others. In fact, I feel this is the greatest challenge; managing and trying to not be impacted by others thoughts of me and perhaps the stories they were making up around me being alone.  Combined with this were the stories I was playing in my own mind! 

In amongst all of this how is one meant to enjoy one’s meal?

A new experience awaits…

'a table for one', Dulse & Brose, The Bosville, Isle of Skye - March 2019
‘a table for one’, Dulse & Brose, The Bosville, Isle of Skye – March 2019

Greeting me in the small intimate restaurant was such warmth.  My body relaxed and my soul sighed.  The warmth oozed from the staff, to the music playing, the soft candles, rustic yet comfy table and chairs and the dimmed lights.  I was led to my table.  It was not hidden in the corner, but beautifully placed at the window, looking out over the bay as the sun settled for the night.  It was picturesque and prime restaurant position. 

I felt welcomed and valued.   Then to my delight the table was set for one person.  Not two, but one.  They had previously removed the second setting and in its place a small vase with flowers and a lit candle had been placed.  I felt cared for.  I had not experienced this before. Such a delicious experience.  

I didn’t feel like I was taking up space or not wanted (which often is the case).  The staff struck up a delightful conversation with me, which was so nice.  My food was mouth watering and presented with care.  It set me up for a relaxing and rejuvenating evening in my cosy room.

'The Bosville', Portree, Isle of Skye - April 2019
‘The Bosville’, Portree, Isle of Skye – April 2019

I had no hesitation when I booked ‘a table for one’ the following night.  I knew I was in kind hands. What I took with me from that experience was to ask in future moments to have the second setting removed.  It made so much difference as I continued my travels.  Staff where happy to do it.  “Ask and you shall receive”.

Along the way I also began to take a notebook and pen with me so I could write out my reflections of the day.  I made my dining out experience about me 100%.  Instead of worrying about what other was thinking, I used it to nourish my body and soul.  

One small action of setting the table for one, by the staff in ‘The Bosville’ made such a huge impact on how I saw and related with myself. 

It showed me that being alone does not mean second best.  It does not mean I am less worthy of experiencing a beautiful dining moment. 

That I can take up space and I matter.