London Diner Denied Water at Restaurant; Management’s Excuse All Wet

Water Flows From FaucetThe Daily Mail reports that a thirsty London diner asked for a free glass of tap water in a restaurant — and was refused. After spending more than $300 on dinner and ordering a bottled water and a round of drinks, the patron, Sonya Adams, politely requested a some tap water, only to be told it was against restaurant policy to serve diners free tap water. However, this policy is in violation of a new law introduced in the U.K. designed to help thwart alcohol-related crimes; alcohol retailers cannot turn down a patron’s request for a complimentary glass of water from the tap.

The restaurant’s management could face a hefty fine, prison time, and/or a revocation of its liquor license. Adams, who paid her bill but opted not to leave a tip, won’t be returning to the restaurant.

Charging for water has been an issue here in the States in the past year. What would you do if a restaurant refused to serve you a glass of tap water on the house? Walk out? Leave a small or no tip? Offer to pay for the water? Weigh in here or tell us your thoughts on Facebook.


  1. says

    I thinking even having to ask for water is silly. At least a waiter should ask if people at the table would like tap water. Aside from the egregious nature of denying someone a glass of water, the idea that the water is not as good is what most restuarants perpetuate. I particularly dislike those restaurants that put their own water in funky bottles, sparkling or not, and charge a fortune for it. I’m willing to bet that those designer bottles are refilled at the tap. If it happened to me I would start yelling for a manager, even in a fancy joint like Bouchon or one of Joel’s places. On one level the offense borders on inhumane. A lot of restaurants, especially some with high prices and attitude, expect the diner to give up his dignity once inside. Worse. some lecture as if we’ve never eaten out before or know the difference between a white and red wine. The water incident goes with the new wave of condescending and/or patronizing thinking.

  2. Kurt says

    I would ask to speak with the manager first. If they continued to enforce such an asinine policy I would simply get up and leave.

  3. says

    Unfortunately, this diner couldn’t have simply gotten up & left since the incident occurred after they’d eaten.

    I would have first told the waiter what I intended to do and noted that if I had to do it then there would be no tip. If the water was still not forthcoming, I’d have walked to the bar and asked the bartender for a glass of water (which should be available for this who like their whisky with water).

    Still no water? Find the manager. Speak to him slowly, and loudly, as if you were British and he was French…

  4. Fred says

    If I had to force a restaurant to bring me a glass of tap water, I probably wouldn’t want to drink it anyway. Wish you would tell us the name of the restaurant so we can all avoid it next time we are in London.

  5. says

    I’d offer to pay for the water as to not upset the other dining companions. Especially when so many people require special diets for various reasons these days.

    But it’s illegal to refuse a glass of water, just as it is to refuse the bathroom in many civilized countries.

    Glad you’re bringing this to people’s attention!

    I’ve worked in a “cheap” fine cuisine before, so this shouldn’t surprise me… but even they offered free water.

  6. says

    Wow, I would of asked for another bottle of water then and also not left a tip. It is funny to me when establishments think they have some new system for profiting down and miss the fact that humans don’t have to take B.S. handed to them. I’ve heard some whoppers in my time but after a such an expensive meal get that patron some water!

    Joshua Leach
    Dod Consulting

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