How many times have you taken your parents or grandparents out for lunch or dinner only to find they can’t hear anything you say because of the noise? Or maybe they struggle to read the menu because the lighting is too low.
London restaurants are among the noisiest in the world, according to data from the Soundprint app. So, while it’s fun to take your parents or elderly relatives out for a family meal, it can be difficult to find a suitable restaurant that all of you can enjoy.
Whilst younger generations may like sampling exotic, contemporary cuisine and sharing small plates with friends, older generations with sensitive stomachs and health conditions often prefer traditional dining experiences (with some exceptions of course). Most don’t usually appreciate standing in walk-in only lines, or sitting on wobbly wooden stools at shared countertops. It’s also helpful when restaurants have tablecloths, carpets, and upholstered banquettes or chairs to absorb background noise, and music is played at low volumes or – even better – not at all.
To help you, we asked our Eldering friends and family to tell us their favourite ‘elder-friendly’ London restaurants, and did a little digging ourselves to give you several good options for a special meal out with elder family members – particularly where hearing or mobility is an issue. That way, everyone can have a great time without yelling, standing in long lines, or leaving more frustrated than satisfied.
The Market Coffee House & Bar, Spitalfields.
Set in a 17th century townhouse, this Spitalfields restaurant has a traditional feel popular with older clientele, but with a modern twist that appeals to all generations. Open 7 days a week.
- Accessibility and comfort: This restaurant has cushioned seating, is wheelchair accessible, and bathrooms are on the same level as the dining room, including an accessible toilet.
- Noise: While the bar is buzzy in the evenings, the restaurant has no speakers so remains quieter. During the day, the noise is very low level.
- Visibility: The main restaurant is low lit in the evenings, but there is plenty of natural daylight during the day.
- Menu: The British/European menu changes daily in accordance with seasonal availability, but there are always easy to eat options such as soups, croquettes, fish dishes and pastas, and you can email the restaurant beforehand with specific dietary needs.
50-52 Brushfield St, E1 6AG, marketcoffeehouseandbar.co.uk
Oslo Court, St John’s Wood.
In a somewhat unusual location at the base of a block of flats north of Regent’s Park, Oslo Court might not look too inviting from the outside but has iconic status amongst restaurant critics, and is loved by locals. With its salmon-pink table linens, plush blue carpet and retro menu, it’s like stepping into a 1970s time warp. Attentive staff in white dinner jackets and an irresistible dessert trolley complete the nostalgic atmosphere. Closed on Sundays.
- Accessibility and comfort: Oslo Court has comfortable, cushioned seats, and although there are a couple of stairs at the entrance, the restaurant has a portable ramp for wheelchairs (if your parent or elder relative is in a wheelchair, just call ahead to let them know). The bathrooms are on the same level as the restaurant, but there is no dedicated accessible toilet.
- Noise: Although there is background music in this restaurant, it is instrumental and non-intrusive. Linen tablecloths also dampen sound so noise levels are generally low. Monday to Wednesdays for either lunch or dinner are the quietest times to dine, and there are quiet areas of the restaurant you can request when booking.
- Visibility: Menus are in large print, and there is plenty of natural light.
- Menu: The menu features old-school French favourites, such as dover sole meunière, coquilles St Jacques and salmon en croute.
Charlbert St, NW8 7EN, oslocourtrestaurant.co.uk
Rules, Covent Garden.
London’s oldest restaurant, which dates back to 1798, serves traditional British cuisine and specialises in game cookery. The atmosphere is classic and inviting: picture velvet banquettes, wood panelling, and warm lighting. Although jacket and tie aren’t required, Rules does ask its patrons to dress smartly.
- Accessibility and comfort: Comfortable, cushioned seating throughout, but while the ground-floor restaurant is wheelchair accessible, the bathrooms are located up a steep staircase. Rules can however arrange for patrons in a wheelchair or with mobility issues to use the bathroom facilities of a neighbouring restaurant.
- Noise: Although Rules can be somewhat noisy when it is very busy, there is no background music which helps, and you can request a quieter table when booking. The quietest times are 12.00 til 1pm, or 3.30pm til 5pm. Tablecloths, carpeting and cushioned seating also help to dampen any noise.
- Visibility: There is plenty of soft lighting in the restaurant, and the large print, A3-size menu is easy to read.
- Menu: Classic British food at its best (with a modern twist in places), the menu includes oysters, seasonal game, hearty pies and puddings.
34-35 Maiden Ln, WC2E 7LB, rules.co.uk
Maison Francois, St James.
Opened in September 2021, Maison Francois is a chic, all-day French brasserie just behind Fortnum and Mason. With its high ceilings and huge centrepiece art-deco clock, the stunning interiors evoke a Wes-Anderson-esque aesthetic. Excellent wine list, knowledgeable, attentive staff and a heavenly dessert trolley filled with drawer upon drawer of delectable cakes and pastries.
- Accessibility and comfort: Maison Francois is wheelchair accessible, and has very comfortable, soft-leather banquette seating. While the bathrooms are downstairs, there is an accessible lift. Plenty of space between tables makes it easy to navigate a wheelchair or walker and get to the table easily.
- Noise: Although there is low level background music, the banquette seating, high ceilings and overall design of the restaurant means the acoustics are generally good and they also have sections that are quieter. The quietest times to dine are between 2pm and 7pm.
- Visibility: The restaurant is well lit (without being obtrusively bright), and they offer reading glasses if your parent or elder relative forgets theirs!
- Menu: The a la carte menu is designed for sharing, with lots of interesting options, but also works well if you don’t want to share. Popular dishes include celeriac remoulade, comté gougères, and pâtes fraîches to start, and the côte de porc as a main. The restaurant’s crowning glory, however, is the dessert trolley, so be sure to leave room.
34 Duke Street, SW1Y 6DF, maisonfrancois.london
Launceston Place, South Kensington.
Fine dining restaurant in a handsome 1839 townhouse, tucked away in a quiet little corner of South Kensington. Launceston Place has an elegant and intimate feel, with an award-winning wine list.
- Accessibility and comfort: The restaurant is wheelchair accessible (apart from their private dining room), and wide-spaced tables come with tablecloths and welcoming banquette seating. Plenty of space between tables makes it easy to navigate a wheelchair or walker. Bathrooms are on the same floor as the restaurant but there is no dedicated accessible toilet.
- Noise: Although there is background music, Launceston Place is not noisy, and is quietest at lunchtime. For low noise levels, it’s best to ask for a table at the back.
- Visibility: Big windows bring in plenty of natural light in the daytime, and the restaurant is warmly lit in the evenings.
- Menu: Seasonally-inspired, innovative British / European menu. Dishes are presented to you at the table from a board – or you can opt for the tasting menu.
1A Launceston Pl, W8 5RL, launcestonplace-restaurant.co.uk
Clarke’s, Notting Hill.
Clarke’s have successfully welcomed the very young and very old and everyone in between for over 38 years. The welcoming fresh décor and ambiance strike the perfect balance between relaxed and formal, with not a hint of stuffiness. Closed Sunday and Monday.
- Accessibility and comfort: Clarke’s is fully wheelchair accessible, with bathrooms including an accessible toilet on the same level as the dining area, and plenty of space between tables. Cushioned, banquette-style seating is available alongside comfortable wooden bistro chairs.
- Noise: Acoustics are usually pretty good here, as there is no background music, and tables are widely spaced with tablecloths to absorb sound.
- Visibility: Plenty of natural light in the daytime, and soft lighting in the evenings but bright enough to read a menu.
- Menu: British and Mediterranean-inspired menus using fresh seasonal ingredients change twice daily – sample menus can be found here. Special dietary needs can be accommodated by request.
124 Kensington Church St, W8 4BH, sallyclarke.com/restaurant
Chez Bruce, Wandsworth.
Since opening its doors in 1995, Chez Bruce has amassed multiple awards and accolades, including a Michelin Star which it has held since 1999. Classic, elegant, yet relaxed, with a very extensive wine list and delicious cheeseboard.
- Accessibility and comfort: Wheelchair accessible, with an accessible toilet on the ground floor. Cushioned seating can be arranged in advance.
- Noise: With tablecloths to dampen sound and no background music, noise levels are generally low, but earlier seatings for lunch and dinner are recommended for the quietest time as it can get quite loud when they are fully booked. There are also quieter areas of the dining room that you can request to be seated in when booking.
- Visibility: Lighting is bright but lowered to a ‘romantic’ level later in the evening. Chez Bruce will also print menus in large fonts for those that are partially sighted, or provide more lighting.
- Menu: Modern French/Mediterranean cuisine.
2 Bellevue Rd, SW17 7EG, chezbruce.co.uk
Final tips before booking
It’s always worth letting the restaurant know beforehand if your parent or relative has trouble hearing so staff can try to seat you in the quietest spot.
Ideally, it’s good to get a table where your elder loved ones can sit with their backs to the wall. Eating a little earlier before restaurants get crowded can help, too.