£100 a head at a top London restaurant? Not for much longer, says guide

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£100 a head at a top London restaurant? Not for much longer, says guide

Related tags Harden's Restaurant London Fine dining

The days of a £100-per-head meal at a destination London restaurant are numbered, according to the findings of the latest Harden's guide.

The new guide, which is published today (10 November), reports record price rises at London’s most luxurious restaurants, with the guide lifting its top price category from £100 to £130 per head as a result.

Of the 1,675 London restaurants in the guide, prices rose by an average of 8.1% in the 12 months to August 2022. Among the 58 restaurants charging over £130 per head the rate of increase was higher, at 11.7%.

This general rate of increase is a record in the past decade and the highest in the 20 years since 2000 when the guide started calculating price rise data, with the exception of a blip after the recovery from the great crash, when a rate of 11% was briefly registered in 2011, according to Harden's.

A £100+ to price band first appeared in the 2017 edition of the guide (published in autumn 2016), with 37 restaurant entries, of which just one had a price of more than £150 per head.

In the new edition, there are 154 entries in the guide that are above the £100 level, with 37 restaurants with a formula price of over £150 per head. In addition, 17 entries are over £200 per head and six over £250.

“It feels like everything is speeding up,” says editor Peter Harden. “That’s because it is.”

The guide also records the lowest level of openings since 2011, with only 136 newcomers recorded as opening in the year. This rate of new restaurants is right at the bottom of the range of 134-200 recorded in all but two of the past 20 years of the guide.

There were 85 closures, which Harden's described as not being a high level, suggesting that in the year leading up to August 2022, a lack of custom was not yet a problem for the trade. Net restaurant growth (openings minus closures) was 51, well below the 100+ new openings recorded in  the ‘golden era’ of 2014-2018.
“Many restaurants were already challenged post-Covid. We saw that in reduced opening times; constant anguish in the trade about disastrous post-Brexit staffing problems; and – amidst rising prices – with consumers’ perception of value starting to dive,” adds Harden.

“Yet, as the graph of openings and closures show, the trade had weathered the pandemic and was starting to attract investment again, albeit of a muted nature. How this will now play out with the increased challenge of mounting inflation remains to be seen. It is not a good sign that our data precedes the most recent spikes in prices, and yet diners in our poll were already expressing concerns related to these never-before-seen levels of expense.”

Related topics Trends & Reports Casual Dining

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