Diners put off by noisy restaurants

The charity Action on Hearing Loss says many people are turning to takeaways. Credit: ITV News

Noise levels in some restaurants are so high that it can be like eating next to a lawn mower according to a new study.

The charity Action on Hearing Loss says many people are turning to takeaways because they say dining out can be too noisy.

The charity says not being able to hear conversations can be isolating especially for those with hearing loss.

If I know a restaurant is very noisy, I would probably avoid it as I know I will struggle hearing what my colleagues and friends are going to be saying.

Restaurant customer

I think some people can find it quite distracting if you can't hear who you are with, especially if you are there for a quiet supper.

Restaurant customer

Too much noise isn't a problem a for one restaurant, they installed a special ceiling that absorbs sound.

Quite often the fashion seems to be hard surfaces, hard floors, plastered walls and it just means the sound can bounce around the room. So if you install an acoustic finish onto the ceiling, that then absorbs that sound to stop it bouncing around any longer.

Ben Hancock, Acoustics expert

I think it could be a decision making difference for some diners. I myself go to great restaurants, where food and service are amazing. However, I may think twice before returning purely because I may not be able to carry a conversation and enjoy that part of my experience

Basia Murphy, Restaurant owner
On busy nights restaurant sound levels reach more than 90 decibels. Credit: ITV News

According to noise levels measured by the charity Action on Hearing Loss, on busy nights restaurant sound levels reached more than 90 decibels.

That is the equivalent of having a meal next to a lawnmower or roadworks.

They also found that:


of people would not go back to a noisy restaurant.


of people have opted for a takeaway instead of a meal out because of the noise.

People with hearing loss had said that it was a big problem, but also we did have people without hearing loss take the survey and they said that they were having the same issues as well. I think it's probably something that we take for granted and people maybe don't realise that you can make a complaint about noise if it is a problem.

Gemma Twitchen, Action on Hearing Loss
You can download an app to measure the sound level in a restaurant. Credit: ITV News

The Action on Hearing Loss charity wants to make noise in restaurants an issue. They want diners to let the restaurant know how well they are doing.

These days that is very easy to do, there are apps the you can download onto your phone that will tell you how loud it is where you are.

The charity says according to their research, lowering noise levels would make restaurants more attractive to diners.

They're also more likely to stay longer in quieter environments and so spend more money, which makes sound economic sense.