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El Bulli reservation

I sent a note to them on Feb 24th for a reservation 5 months out and this is what I got back today(feb 26).

The demand has again surpassed our limited possibilities of reservations for one season and we regret not to be able to fulfill more requests.

As we confirm all the reservations 10 days in advance, you can contact us again nearer your chosen dates to see if there is any change in availability.

I take it this means NO?

Is it normal to be book 5 months out..or should I have said I was traveling from the US or something else to get a better chance at getting in.

Any help getting in would be greatly appreciated as this was going to be one of the highlights of my trip.

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  1. You interpretation of the response is correct that you did not get a reservation. El Bulli has a very complicated system, only known to them (like a lottery for diners), on how they allot their reservation requests. The number of available seats for each season is minute compare to their requests. The number of requests is staggering, rumor as many as 500,000 each year. You sent your request a bit late for I believe they started accepting reservation requests in the middle of January for 2010 season. You did what everyone did with your email request. There is no other method. If you are planning to be in Catalonia, I would follow their suggestion and contact them 10 days before (also again during your visit) in case of cancellations. I wouldn't plan any travel just for that hope. Catalonia is a wonderful place to visit and has some of the best restaurants in Spain. Worth a visit regardless of El Bulli.

    13 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      PBSF, I've been enjoying your posts, especially about Barcelona. Planning a trip there this summer and looking forward to some really good food.

      Dmariani, if you really want to have an El Bulli experience, there's always the option of dining at the El Bulli Hotel restaurant near Sevilla. It's not the same, I suppose, but unless you have a reservation at El Bulli, maybe it's the next best thing. In Barcelona, I hear there are quite a few restaurants operated by Adria-disciples; I plan to try some of those. BTW, I had Adria's microwaved almond sponge cake at Pujol in Mexico City (the owner/chef is yet another Adria-disciple) and it was really good.

      1. re: Aleta

        Thank you. It is regrettable that El Bulli overshadows so much of what wonderful food the rest of Catalonia offers. I ate at El Bulli in 2000 when reservations were somewhat easier to obtain. It was a great experience but looking back, considering the logistics and cost of renting a car, then taxis, overnight hotel, etc, I would trade that for three meals, one each at Can Roca, Can Fabes and Hispania. And maybe still have a little change left. The city of Barcelona is full of wonderful modern Catalan restaurants. Life is too short to be disappointed by a single 'no' reservation.

        1. re: PBSF

          I was looking forward to going to El Bulli and I will try to get in when we go over for a 2 week tour of spain and southern France(driving). We will be in Barcelona, Carcassonne, Lourdes, Pamplona, and San Sebastian. We will have our 4 year old son along so any kid friendly recommendations are welcome too. I think we will try Arzak in San Sebation.

        2. re: Aleta

          Aleta, the El Bulli Hotel is a good suggestion. I have eaten at both and the hotel delivers very similar food, you do experience Adria's magic. Obviously it isn't the same, but it is a pretty good substitute.

          1. re: PhilD

            I actually preferred my meal at Hacienda Benazuza (El Bulli Hotel) - my nerves were frazzled after the drive to El Bulli and I was totally relaxed at Benazuza.
            But both were totally memorable.

            1. re: estufarian

              I think we were lucky with El Bulli as we got a lunch reservation so it was a long and relaxing afternoon. Perfect by the beach. I imagine dinner is a little different especially now his season goes into Autumn/Winter with darker/colder nights, it would be an interesting contrast to try.

        3. re: PBSF

          I would add to PBSF's comment that the booking window for El Bulli is open for a finite number of days, approximately five IIRC (in January this year). If you don't hit this window your request is not considered for the lottery of table allocation. As 2010 and 2011 are the last two years of El Bulli in its current form I think reservations for next year are going to be more tricky. When it reopens after the four year break it seems it may be much more accessible, but may not be a restaurant, it could simply be a place to try examples of avant garde cooking from the proposed institute.

          1. re: PhilD

            PhilD and estufarian, your positive comments on Hacienda Benazuza and the Alqueria restaurant have inspired me to add a few days in Seville to our June Barcelona visit. I'd prefer to stay in town (and not at the Hacienda) so that we can be near the flamenco tablao and eat at Enrique Becerra. The hotel opens in March and I've sent an email to alqueria@elbullihotel.com for lunch reservations in June. Hope that works out.

            1. re: Aleta

              It's about 30 mins outside Seville (as long as you don't get caught up in rush hour).

              1. re: Aleta

                Seville is a nice city, some good things to see and a very good food scene. A nice contrast to Barcelona it is far more laid back. It is a good part of the country to explore, both for food and monuments. The El Bulli is also quite a nice place to stay (although not cheap) but equally it is quite close to town, I think we only took about 15 to 20 mins to drive there from out hotel by the cathedral.

              2. re: PhilD

                Can you provide more info or a link to what is happening after 2011? I may be late to this info but your post is the first i'm hearing of a major change. Thank you!!!

                1. re: Geoff

                  Here is a two year closure article:
                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...
                  Here is the NYT permanent closure article:
                  http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...
                  Here is the link for post 2014 plans which clarifies a few things, and raises lots more questions:
                  http://elbulli.com/docs201001/elBulli...

                  1. re: PhilD

                    Thanks very much, that explains it.

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