But, more recently, this has been undermined, with priority being given to individual tables and loose chairs more typical of a restaurant. So, often there is a confusing mix of high-level posing tables, raised benches, large round tables, seating booths and bijou dining tables for two. I go in and feel that there’s nowhere I really fancy sitting.
A prime example of this is Robinsons’ recent refurbishment of the Bull’s Head in Hale Barns. The two south-facing, bay-windowed rooms used to be great places to sit and have a drink, but now all the fixed seating has been ripped out and replaced with vintage-style armchairs and steamer trunks in place of tables. “This is a pub full of theatre and intrigue.” Err, no. The phrase “Get in the Sea!” comes to mind.
Earlier this year I also visited a large local pub that had recently received a thorough refurbishment. A previous line of bench seating had been stripped out, and I found it difficult to choose anywhere amongst the mixture of different, edgy seating that I would feel at home.
As so often, trendy marketing bullshit from people who scarcely use pubs trumps experience and common sense. If you make drinkers feel uncomfortable, they won’t come.