November 6, 2008

Getting a Reservation at elBulli

The reservation process for 2009 has already been done and dusted. On average 2 million people request a reservation at elBulli, of those 2 million, only 8,000 are lucky enough to dine there each year. So if you attempted to a get a table there, you effectively had a 1 in 250 chance of being lucky.

In 2009, the season runs from 16th June to 20th December. For the first time in my life, I decided to join the throng of people attempting to win the elBulli lottery. After sending my email, I only had to wait 2 weeks to get my response. And of course, I was unsuccessful! Here is the email I sent:

Dear Lluis and Juli,

First of all I would like to say congratulations on being part of team that runs such a respectable and reputable establishment. Well done to all of you.

Secondly to Lluis, I do not envy your job. Having to go through millions of emails and pick out a few thousand diners who are lucky enough to experience elbulli is not an easy task. I definitely admire you, if only for the fact that you can read 2 million emails on the same subject!

Now onto my request to be one of the lucky 8,000

I have never dined at elbulli before, and would love the opportunity to try it with one other guest (2 people). I have no preference for time of year or time of day. Where ever there is a space available, I would be happy to take it.

It would be wonderful to come all the way from Melbourne (Australia), where Ferran is at this very moment in time, to experience the Costa Brava and the wonders of elBulli.
Thank you for reading my email and considering my request


And here is the generic email I received from elBulli informing me that I needn't pack my bags and get excited.


The demand that we have received at the first moment has again surpassed our limited possibilities for one season and we regret not to be able to full fill more reservation requests.

We thank you sincerely for all your interest and we will be at your disposal if you wish to revise the situation during the season, near your available dates as we must confirm all the reservations 10 days in advance.

Tel. +34 972 15 04 57 (during the season - after 3.00 p.m.)

2009 Season - Open from June 16th to December 20th

Only dinner service 7.30 – 9.30 p.m. except on some Saturdays of September-October-November and December that we will be open for lunch (1.00 – 2.30 p.m.) and closed for dinner.

normally Monday and Tuesday closed

SEE EXCEPTIONS OF OUR 2009 CALENDAR AT (see reservations)


We do not have information about 2010 season at this moment but we never start the management until we have finished the season before.

You will find information at see reservations) in December 2009.

Sincerely yours,

Luis Garcia


Cala Montjoi - 17480 Roses
Tel. +34 972 15 04 57
Fax. +34 972 15 07 17




Only about 2 days after I sent my initial email to Luis Garcia did I do any research on securing a table at the famous restaurant. Probably a huge mistake on my part. ElBulli is renowned for being extremely difficult to get a table, and the process in which diners get tables apparently has no set criteria. But here are a few hints I've come across;

- The obvious, include your name, email address, and telephone number

- The reservation process is split into four categorizes. Those who have dined there before, those who are first time diners, those who are locals and those who come from overseas destinations. I'm not sure if each category is equally weighted, but I would assume that if you are a previous diner or a local it would be much easier to get a reservation, simply due to the fact that there would be less competition for these tables.

- Write you email in a "dumbed down" version of English. Keep in mind that the person reading your email possesses English as a second language. (not too sure about this tip) Or write your email in Spanish or Catalan.

- Make your email personal. Add in a request for a special occasion diner, such as a honeymoon or birthday. Talk about what a dinner at elBulli would mean to you. When I was at Ferran Adria's talk in October, it was suggested to mention the fact that I had seen him on his tour and that this connection would give me an edge. But I'm not too sure about this, Ferran has talked at length about his dislike of making special conditions for powerful people or friends, let alone someone who saw him during a tour he has done.

- Send multiple emails from different locations. This makes sense, if you buy more lottery tickets, you are more likely to win the jackpot.

- A tip from Ferran himself, be nice. Luis has to read all the emails, and the nice requests are going to succeed over the nasty ones.

- Be incredibly flexible with dates. State a preferred date, but make sure to stress that you are flexible and would take any opportunity to dine there. Requesting a table on the 1st Saturday in August with no exception is not going to help your chances. Being flexible means that they can slot you in where ever there is a free spot.

- Send your request in at the exact moment the reservations open. Apparently it is judged on a first come first served basis. Now this can be particularly difficult as the season changes from year to year. This year the season ended in September and the reservations were taken in the middle of October. The 2009 season ends in December, and as it has been stated many times, they don't start taking the following years reservations until the current years services have ended. So I assume the reservations for 2010 won't be taken until late December some time. But then again i could be completely wrong.

- And the best tip of all, if you don't succeed, try try again.

So I guess I'll try again next year.

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