Getting a Noma reservation

Dining are with Scandinavian decorGetting a reservation in Noma is almost impossible.  Almost, but not entirely.  I personally do not know anyone else in my network who has been to Noma, but I am testament to the fact that regular people—not just journalists or food critics—can secure a table.  With a lot of preparation and a little bit of luck, you may be able to get a reservation yourself and get to enjoy the beautiful experience of Noma.

Fast facts:

There is a 4-month lead time to a Noma reservation.  For example, my October lunch reservation was made 4 months ago back in July.  Reservations are done online or, according to their website, over the phone.   The booking system opens up at 10am CET on the first Monday of every month or at specific dates as specified in their website.  All you need is an email address.  There are no payments or deposits required.

How I planned my reservation:

I started planning my reservation to Noma in May 2012.  I was 29.5 years old, with 6 months left until I turn 30, and I wanted to secure this birthday present.  I missed my opportunity to book the first Monday of June since it was my first day back to work after a month-long break taking my parents around Europe.  So I knew I had to do it in July.

At 9:50am of the day the reservation opens, I was online.  I had several browsers open: Safari, IE, Firefox and Chrome.  I also had my Blackberry in hand with the number of Noma typed in, just waiting to be dialed.  Before 10am, the message in the website was the default:

Dear guest,

We regret that we cannot meet all the requests for table reservations that we receive.

For now, we do not accept reservations beyond [date].
If no tables are available for the requested date, you can sign up for our waiting list via online booking. We receive cancellations daily.

At 9:58 I hit Refresh on all my open browsers and lo and behold, the content changed to indicate that there is too much traffic to the site and that I should try again later.  Brilliant.  I found out later on that at the moment reservation opens, it gets flooded by at least 10,000 users hence the digital traffic jam.  Meanwhile, over the phone, I am being told that the lines are busy.  My expectation is to be put on hold until someone becomes available.  This, I realized, is a very North American expectation.  I was hoping to hear elevator music or at the very least a recording of “your call is important to us, please hold” to be repeated every minute or so.  But alas, I got a very decisive “please try again later” and a busy signal.

For three solid hours I hit the Refresh button on all four browsers incessantly.  I hit redial on my Blackberry with unflagging resolve.  I was determined to ride it out until 2:00pm when the reservation officially closes.

At 1:02pm, I finally got in.  At that point all dinner seats are gone and only one lunch table on a Wednesday and another on Tuesday were left open.  Of course, I have planned ahead and got my fiancé’s go-ahead to book whatever date I wish.  So I picked the Wednesday spot, and less than a minute after, I got my confirmation email.

I am sharing this with you because my plan worked.  I am 100% certain that luck had a lot to do with it, as well.  The following month, a colleague tried to make a booking and he got in at 11am—two whole hours less of hitting the Refresh button.  However, when he finally did, all tables were booked.

I encourage you to try my approach of booking yourself for four hours with the resolve to hit Refresh no matter how hopeless it may seem.  And if it works, I only ask you to send me an email to tell me that it did.  I will be so happy for you!

Costs:

Air fare:  We flew from Amsterdam to Copenhagen and flights are quite inexpensive.  If you book far ahead in advance, you can secure an SAS return flight for about 120  EUR on weekday rates.

Hotel rate:  If you’re staying close to the Central station, you can find a decent hotel for cheap.  We stayed at the Andersen Hotel which is a brand spanking new boutique hotel 4 minutes walk from the station.  With breakfast included, it cost approximately 120 EUR.

Noma cost:  If you are two people going for the full Noma experience (opting for the wine and juice pairing) expect to pay approximately 6,000 DKK which is about 800 EUR.  This cost includes the meals, wine pairing, juice pairing, still water, mineral water, tea and tip.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.  The goal of this blog, afterall, is to inspire other people.  Good luck and happy planning!

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