Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nice Buildings, Shame about Everything Else; New Travel Guide Gives London a Mixed Review

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nice Buildings, Shame about Everything Else; New Travel Guide Gives London a Mixed Review

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK SAWER

HORRIFICALLY overcrowded and expensive, the overwhelming odour of frying onions, a disappointing Changing of the Guard and the Millennium Bridge fiasco, the "cock-up of all cock-ups": London wouldn't seem to have much to recommend it, at least not according to the new Lonely Planet Guide to Britain.

The same book, however, goes on to praise the capital's relative safety, its revamped cultural heritage, the regenerated South Bank, and, "cock-ups" aside, that beautiful Blade of Light.

Which just goes to prove, as if its inhabitants didn't already know, that London is all things to all people, including the millions who flock here every year clutching the latest guide books.

As with most warts-and-all publications aimed at the young, independent traveller, the Lonely Planet guide contains a litany of complaints and warnings about London and the rest of the country.

Some of the capital's major attractions come in for strong criticism:

* Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is described as a letdown, giving tourists little more than the chance "to gape at soldiers in bright red uniforms shouting and marching". The guide states: "This is a London 'must see' - though you'll probably go away wondering what all the fuss was about."

* Popular attractions tend to be accompanied by the "overwhelming odour of frying onions".

"These emanate from one of the many unlicensed hot dog carts that lurk around London. Resist the urge (if there's one at all); the sanitary conditions are dubious."

* Covent Garden, "one of the few bits of London where pedestrians rule", gets "horribly overcrowded in summer". Travelling on the Tube can sometimes feel as if not much has changed since it was little more than a roofed-in trench in 1863: "It is slow, unreliable and breakdowns are common."

On the other hand, the guide points out that London is still one of the world's great cities and praises recent cultural highlights, citing the money spent on the Tate Modern, Somerset House, British Museum and the restored Wallace Collection. …

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