The dress code debate divides the hospitality industry as casual restaurants become the norm

Chewton Glen

As food and beverage returns to a more casual affair within hotels, do you think it’s still important to establish a dress code in your restaurant?


Craig Jackson, general manager, Northcote

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Our existing dress code of smart and informal but no sportswear, ripped denim or shorts serves two main purposes. It is a useful guide for all guests, especially those who are coming for the first time. Secondly, for a property like ours standards are extremely important and we want that to carry through every aspect of a guests’ experience, which rightly or wrongly includes the perception of other guests. Our dress code has been relaxed more recently as trends and fashion change because we don’t want to be left behind our become outdated, so we will continue to monitor developments across the board to ensure we’re still pitching ourselves correctly and staying true to our core values.


Oliver Williams, general manager, Ellenborough Park

In all honesty I’m surprised we’re still asking this question in 2017. My personal opinion is that if a restaurant even discusses dress code, then it’s not a place I’d like to be. Going out for a meal is one of life’s joys, and an absolute luxury for some, so why should it be tainted with worrying about what to wear? There’s enough pressure in people’s worlds these days, that when escaping to a great restaurant, it should all be about the food, the drink, the ambience. If you want to dress up, great! If you don’t, also great! Restaurateurs and hoteliers are missing the point if they insist on dress codes. Credit people with enough common sense that they will dress to the occasion and the venue without any direction. But do think carefully if you’re on a date!


Helen Heraty, proprietor, Grays Court Hotel

Advising people on dress code restrictions tends to be a rather outdated concept. Having said this, fostering an environment with an informal dress code helps to make guests feel comfortable and relaxed. As a business we do not enforce a strict dress code as we do not want guests to feel that they are having restrictions placed on them. Having said this, as a historic house boutique hotel, we want to promote the kind of environment where people want to dress nicely and we have found that guests often self-regulate within the environment. This encourages and promotes a pleasant, refined atmosphere and, in my opinion, makes a ‘visit’ feel more of an ‘occasion’.


Adam Rowledge, general manager, Georgian House Hotel

At Georgian House we want guests to have a home-from-home experience that is complemented by the service levels expected of five-star accommodation. Our informal dining space reflects this and so we want our guests to feel comfortable the moment they arrive. As an industry, I think that by-and-large the days of the dress code are gone in most high street and mid-range restaurants – it’s even changing for the ‘fine dining’ scene with many Michelin star establishments suggesting a smart casual dress code. Generally speaking though, diners will choose to go somewhere that suits the occasion and therefore dress accordingly.

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Zoe Monk

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