El Bulli Reservations Just Got Even Harder

El Bulli will apparently be closing for a few years while they come up with new culinary innovation. (HT: Tyler).

Here at Madrid Fusion, an annual international culinary conference, the news is all about chefs, and no news is bigger than that of Ferran Adrià, the chef of elBulli, reputedly the best restaurant — and the toughest reservation — in the world. To the accompaniment of dozens of flashing cameras and a live feed for Spain’s main television channel, one of the masters of the culinary universe declared that he would be closing his restaurant to the public for two years beginning in 2012.

It’s not a definitive end to the restaurant that has been voted the best in the world five times (including in 2009) by Restaurant magazine, the recognized arbiter of such things. Adrià and his team will still be working at elBulli, developing ideas and trying to figure out what comes next. But he says the restaurant’s current format is finished. “When we come back in 2014, it’s not going to be the same,” Adrià says.

I’m really fortunate to have gotten reservations there in 2008, and I blogged my dinner there in 2008.

I’m hopeful that their reservation policy will continue to be to set aside 50% of their tables for repeat customers, as I’ll be fascinated to see what they come up with.  Currently they close half the year and spend their off time researching.  Such a long hiatus should breed some interesting changes.

In the meantime, there’ll be one more season left — 2011 — before they close.  (They haven’t yet opened for the 2010 season, but they’re fully booked.)  If you’re looking for a 2011 reservation, the standard has been to email the Sunday evening before the third Monday in October to request a table…

Update: Per the comments the date that El Bulli accepts reservations for 2011 may have changed.  If it were me I’d send an email both on the old night (noting that you had set an outlook calendar reminder to do so ~ a year before) and late the evening before the date published on the website.  And if you’re going with a spouse or significant other, or really with anyone, have them request a reservation as well…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary –

    What is the email for reservations? I just added a reminder on my calendar to send an email on October 17 @ 6pm Barcelona time. I think you can see my email address in your moderation view – if you wouldn’t mind sending me that info.



  2. Hi Gary,

    I’m in the same boat as Eric. Normally wouldn’t splurge like this but an VERY interested.


  3. I appreciate your blog and enjoyed your TR re: EB. But this snippet just rubs me the wrong way: “I’m hopeful that their reservation policy will continue to be to set aside 50% of their tables for repeat customers”.

    IMHO it seems to go against the spirit of the blog.

  4. @Bang4Buck, sorry about that — I have no control over how they handle reservations of course, but if their policy gives me a better shot at trying for them when they re-open I will not be disappointed.

    Not sure it’s fair to complain though when I publish the best strategy for anyone reading the blog to get a reservation themselves…

  5. Good point. Apologies for commenting when I was tired and cranky. I guess I’m just jealous…

  6. This year the elBulli website stated that reservation requests were being accepted during the first two weeks of January. Not sure where you got October from as they say specifically that they wait until their current season is over before accepting reservations for the next one. For those looking ahead to 2011, they mention they’ll post details regarding reservations on their website in December 2010.

  7. If, as written, el Bulli only accepts fewer than 1% of reservation requests, I find it hard to believe, given the very limited number of openings, that the reservation system is random. They can’t possibly go through a million reservation requests and their website says specifically that it is not first come first serve.

    So what do people who have connections do? I suspect that there is an insider email address other than the one one the site.

    Anybody know of people who got in and how they did it? Was it really just random?

  8. @jack, I can tell you that I used the public email address. The first year I requested it I was about 3 days into the process, and got turned down. I replied to the rejection the next year and got a table.

  9. May I ask just for a school assignment. Is there reservation fee upon the approval of your reservation request? And if there is, how much is that?

    Thank you all. I’m really looking forward for answers. Thank you all again.. ^^.

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