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Best dining tables for entertaining in style

We’re serving up the best dining tables, from extendable to solid-oak and industrial designs

Zoe Phillimore
Friday 28 June 2024 11:54 BST
We’ve tracked down quality dining tables that are ideal for special occasions and everyday life
We’ve tracked down quality dining tables that are ideal for special occasions and everyday life (iStock/The Independent)
Our Top Picks

The best dining tables tick two important boxes: they look good and they’re practical. Choosing a new dining table isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, though. After all, furniture of this stature can be a sizeable investment.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to assess whether a dining table will fit the allocated space in your home, you’re going to need to consider the chairs that go around the table, too – is there a comfortable amount of space to pull up a seat, and can you neatly tuck the chairs under the table when not in use?

While we’re talking about seating, you should also consider whether you want benches – which are great for flexibility and families with young kids – or chairs.

If you often host friends and family, an extendable dining table could be a good versatile option. Usually, this style of dining table comes with an extra leaf – either stowed under the table in a mechanism or fully removed from the table – which can be used to increase the table’s surface area when you need to feed the 5,000.

Once you’ve decided on size, you’ll need to consider the shape of your dining table. This is really a matter of taste, and what’s going to work with your space. Round dining tables are thought to be more convivial for group conversations and save space. Long dining tables are great for formal dining, though, and are essential if you’re going for bench-style seating.

How we tested

We tested the tables in our busy family home
We tested the tables in our busy family home (Zoë Phillimore)

All shapes, sizes, prices and designs were reviewed for this round-up. We were looking for quality tables that would go the distance, providing a space for special occasions and everyday life. We hosted a procession of tables in a busy family home with children and invited friends and family to dine with us throughout the testing period. Of course, aesthetics were factored in, as we know this is key when choosing items for your home.

The best dining tables for 2024 are:

  • Best dining table overall – Dunelm Karla extendable dining table: £549, Dunelm.com
  • Best budget dining table – Dusk Heidi oval dining table: £359, Dusk.com
  • Best for families – Next natural Arizona extending pine dining table: £775, Next.co.uk
  • Best round table – Loaf parquet pie dining table: £835, Loaf.com

Dunelm Karla extendable dining table

best dining table indybest review Dunelm Karla extendable dining table
  • Best: Dining table overall
  • Dimensions: H 75cm x W 160-200cm x D 90cm
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Materials: MDF, oak, pine and oak veneer
  • Seats: 6
  • Why we love it
    • Contemporary lines
    • Extendable
    • Well made
  • Take note
    • Not solid wood

Officially, this table seats six, but we were able to fit eight around it with no trouble once we extended the table. Incredibly well made, it’s just the right balance of solid without being blocky, as it features lovely curved edges. It’s a pale oak veneer but it has plenty of warmth to it. Certainly, it was a table that drew our family to sit down and linger over their meals.

The extending part on this table tucks underneath, and the mechanism works well. The legs are perfectly in proportion and didn’t get in the way at all once we were seated.

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Dusk Heidi oval dining table

best dining tables indybest review Dusk Heidi oval dining table.
  • Best: Budget dining table
  • Dimensions: H 75cm x W 180cm x D 90cm
  • Shape: Oval
  • Materials: Solid oak
  • Seats: 6-8
  • Why we love it
    • Made from solid oak
    • Contemporary style
    • Great for small families and couples
  • Take note
    • Not extendable
    • It’s a squeeze to seat eight

We were amazed by the quality of this table when we looked at the price. It’s made from solid oak, looks extremely premium and is a great size. It is not as sturdy as some tables in this round-up, and we found ourselves keeping a firm eye on our kids around it – perhaps unduly, as they didn’t manage to damage it.

The slim legs meant we weren’t constantly whacking our knees, and gave it a contemporary, Scandi-chic look. While the table states it seats six to eight, we’d say six is a more realistic number. This is a great option if you’re a smaller family or a couple that likes to entertain. We’re dubbing this the best budget dining table but the price belies the quality here – it’s just an absolute bargain.

  1.  £359 from Dusk.com
Prices may vary
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Next natural Arizona extending pine dining table

best dining table indybest review Next natural Arizona extending pine dining table
  • Best: For families
  • Dimensions: H 76cm x W 180-220cm x D 80cm
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Materials: Pine and metal
  • Seats: 6-8
  • Why we love it
    • Great for family meals
    • Very sturdy
  • Take note
    • Slightly undulating surface

Our family all fell in love with this table as soon as we had constructed it (which was a doddle, by the way). Our four-year-old mini tester said it was the best thing we’d ever got for the house, and they’ve never shown an interest in home décor before. Certainly, it’s perfect for big family meals, and there’s plenty of space for people to stretch out, even when the table is not extended.

The extending leaf is stowed under the table and the mechanism is easy to use. Once it’s extended, you have a very big table indeed – perfect for family gatherings. The metal legs are extremely sturdy and they didn’t get in the way of our own long legs, thanks to the cross-bar style. While the undulating block-wood design might not be for everyone (when you’re writing at the table for example), we found placing a mat underneath items solved this.

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Oak Furnitureland Maine extendable dining table

best dining tables indybest review Oak Furnitureland Maine extendable dining table.
  • Best: For industrial style
  • Dimensions: H 77cm x W 160-220cm x D 90cm
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Materials: Natural solid oak and metal
  • Seats: 8-10
  • Why we love it
    • Incredible quality
    • Very solid
    • Great for large families
    • Modern design

Oak Furnitureland is not mucking around here. There are solid dining tables and then there’s this dining table. It took two strong people just to get it in the house, and putting it together was a job and a half (although not complex). So, if you’re looking for a robust dining table that’s able to weather anything, this is the one for you. It’s a very handsome design, too. The solid oak top is gorgeous, with a low-sheen finish that gives it that utility vibe.

This table is pretty big, and two hidden leaves extend it even further to accommodate up to 10 people. The perfect modern dining table, it feels grand without being formal. We can see large family gatherings being seated easily around this dining table.

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Garden Trading Hambledon oak dining table

best dining tables indybest review Garden Trading Hamble oak dining table
  • Best: Natural-look dining table
  • Dimensions: H 75cm x W 180cm x D 90cm
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Materials: Oak
  • Seats: 6-8
  • Why we love it
    • Solid
    • One-off design
    • Built to last
    • Timeless design
  • Take note
    • Expensive

This solid oak dining table would make a beautiful heritage piece for a family. It’s hewn from a slice of oak, with the natural details running down the side. This makes it a one-off and adds to the aesthetic of this dining table. It’s solid and impeccably made, too – we can imagine this piece will stay in a family for generations to come.

This is more of a traditional-looking table. The smooth, matte surface of the table gives it a farmhouse vibe. The square legs are slightly splayed, to allow for extra room when seated, and we found that it comfortably accommodated six people. The price tag here is weighty, to say the least, but if you’re looking for an investment piece, we’d definitely give this dining table the thumbs up.

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Loaf parquet pie dining table

best dining tables indybest review Loaf parquet pie dining table
  • Best: Round table
  • Dimensions: H76cm x W120-165cm x D80-120cm
  • Shape: Round
  • Material: Oak veneer and plywood
  • Seats: 4-6
  • Why we love it
    • Space-saving
    • Well made
    • Extendable
    • Generous seating for four
    • Great for couples
  • Take note
    • Leaf requires storing

Parquet-style table tops are bang on trend at the moment, and yet this table still feels timeless. The circular design is practical and ideal for placing in the middle of an open space or kitchen. It isn’t huge – four people can comfortably sit at it with plenty of elbow room, and you can extend it to an oval that seats six. The slight hitch with this table is you have to remove the leaf entirely and store it elsewhere. Once the leaf goes into the loft, will it ever be retrieved again?

We loved the washed-oak finish, which picked up the beautiful grain on the oak veneer top. The grooves cut into the side of the table and underneath show the attention to detail in the design, too. The table is clearly well-made and built to last.

  1.  £835 from Loaf.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Dining tables

We absolutely love the Next dining table. Although an investment, it’s sturdy, comfortable and offers enough interesting details without being over the top. If we’re being honest, all the dining tables in our review are amazing, and it’s been a close-run thing deciding the overall winner. However, thanks to its quality and reasonable price point, the Dunelm dining table just nabbed the top spot. Although, if you are after a round dining table, the Loaf table is a great choice, too.

Looking for functional furniture that serves up plenty of style? Read our review of the best bookcases

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