Want to dine at London's most chichi, high-dollar restaurants? It helps if you're a hottie. According to an investigative series aired on the UK's Channel 4, the city's prestigious restaurants regularly seat diners according to how attractive they are: Beautiful patrons are sat up front near the windows, while less comely patrons are hidden away in the back or turned away altogether.
The show's producers tested the theory by "[sending] four attractive models into three of the most expensive restaurants in London," where they were promptly led to the so-called 'golden tables,' reports RT. Meanwhile, one of the program's hosts — who "suffers from neurofibromatosis, which has left his face covered in non-cancerous tumors" — made numerous visits to the same restaurant, and was either led to a "hidden away" table or turned away altogether.
"A restaurant’s clientele give off a certain message about the place. Good-looking customers attract more people and make you more cash, so you sit them where they can be seen," chef and series co-host Simon Rimmer stated.
None of this is exactly surprising: Numerous studies have shown that on average, more attractive people earn higher salaries and receive all kinds of preferential treatment, including just generally being treated better. But hearing restaurants actually own up to this kind of deliberate looks-based discrimination can be shocking.
In 2013, a Paris restaurant called Georges made headlines when a former hostess revealed that her bosses had an explicit policy of seating good-looking customers up front where they could be seen by passersby, and would reprimand staff for placing less attractive people at the more visible tables. The staff was even reportedly trained to look for "linguistic clues" to try and determine how attractive someone calling for a reservation might be. It's unclear how attractive said staff themselves were, but that's been a selling point and point of controversy in New York City and LA in the past.