Bring Back Great British Value
11 May 2011
External Link: lonelyplanet.com
According to the 9th edition of Lonely Planet’s Great Britain guidebook; 'If you’re on a tight budget, there’s no getting away from it – Britain ain’t cheap. Public transport, admission fees, restaurants and hotel rooms all tend to be expensive compared with their equivalents in many other European countries.' (page 19)
David Else compiled the new edition, which is in a new relaunched format, with input from a team of 10 authors. He said, 'With disposable income at an all-time low, many Brits will be opting for a UK holiday this year, but they need to shop around to get the best value. It’s perfectly possible to have a cheap holiday in Britain, but unfortunately you can find it costs just as much as a trip abroad.'
'There is no doubt that Britain is great; in my opinion its history, scenery and people make it one of the most fascinating places in the world to explore. However if Brits feel they don’t get value for money with their staycation this year then they will look to go elsewhere in 2012, even though the UK tourist industry is expecting it to be in for a bumper year with the Olympics propelling the country into the global spotlight.'
'Our authors searched the length and breadth of the country, on a mission to find the best value restaurants, accommodation and attractions. Whilst they found some fantastic places, there were many which were overpriced or lacking in quality. Unfortunately at a time when everyone is in desperate need of a great value summer getaway some of Britain’s tourism industry just doesn’t deliver.'
Mr Else added; 'Ironically, in the last few years the UK has become a great value destination for international visitors who flock to Bargain Britain for a cheap holiday. Whilst our weak economy may be great for overseas travellers Brits’ wallets are struggling to take the strain.'
For savvy Brits who do their homework Britain can still offer good value. The guidebook found food overpriced in some areas, particularly in London, but good value available elsewhere: 'you’re often better spending £5 on a top-notch curry in Birmingham or a homemade steak-and-ale pie in a country pub in Devon than forking out £30 in a restaurant for a ‘modern European’ concoction that tastes like it came from a can.' (page 1009)
It also found that 'London has scores of excellent restaurants that could hold their own in major cities worldwide, while places in Bath, Cardiff , Manchester and Edinburgh can give the capital a fair run for its money (often for rather less money).' (page 1015) Gastro pubs are tipped as a safe bet for a good meal out with their 'top-notch no-frills food.' (page 1015)
For a place to stay, some hotels cost over the odds, while others offer excellent facilities and a warm welcome at a fair price. The guidebook cites budget chain hotels as a great value option; 'Most are totally lacking in style or ambience, but who cares? You’ll only be there for eight hours, and six of them you’ll be asleep.' (page 1056)
Keeping the family entertained on holiday can be one of the most costly aspects of a trip. The guidebook heaps praise on the attractions which deliver fantastic entertainment; 'The phenomenally popular Alton Towers offers maximum G-forces for your buck.' (page 414) however others don’t fare so well; 'With so much fabulous free stuff to do in London, it’s a wonder that people still join lengthy queues to visit pricey Madame Tussauds.' (page 89)
Great Britain highlights plenty of things to do which don’t cost a penny, singling out London as being particularly family-friendly; 'The capital has children’s attractions galore; many are free.' (page 44)
Lonely Planet authors give their no-holds-barred view of towns and cities throughout the country with high praise lavished on Edinburgh, 'One of the world’s most fascinating cities' (page 758), while Manchester is 'truly special' (page 531). On the other hand, Dover is described as 'down in the dumps' (page 156) and Essex is portrayed as 'home to chavs' (page 365).
What Great Britain says about...
BRISTOL: Bristol might not be as elegant as Exeter or as beautiful as Bath, but the city has plenty of life in it. (page 270)
BATH: Just don’t expect to dodge the crowds. (p278)
BIRMINGHAM: With its industrial legacy and chaotic road network, Birmingham might not leap out as a tourist attraction, but there’s a lot to see, including some fine museums and galleries, while the nightlife and food are the best in the Midlands. (p392)
CAMBRIDGE: The tightly packed core of ancient colleges, the picturesque ‘Backs’(college gardens) leading on to the river, and the leafy green meadows that seem to surround the city give it a far more tranquil appeal than its historic rival Oxford. (p353)
CANTERBURY: tops the charts when it comes to English cathedral cities and is one of southern England’s top attractions. (p135)
CARDIFF: is a prodigious boozing town (p649)
CHESTER: Marvellous Chester is one of English history’s greatest gifts to the contemporary visitor. (p548)
DURHAM: Durham is unquestionably beautiful, but once you’ve visited the cathedral and walked the old town looking for the best views there isn’t much else to do. (p617)
ESSEX: Ah, Essex; home to chavs (bling, bling youfs), bottle blonds, boy racers and brash seaside resorts – or so the stereotype goes. The county’s inhabitants have been the butt of some of England’s cruellest jokes and greatest snobbery for years, but beyond the fake Burberry bags and slots ‘n’ bumper car resorts, there’s a rural idyll of sleepy medieval villages and rolling countryside. (p365)
GLASGOW: a byword for style and chic. (p792)
LEICESTER: bustling global melting pot. Modern Leicester is alive with the sights, sounds and flavours of the subcontinent, creating a strange juxtaposition with the Victorian factories and eyesore concrete architecture. (p451)
LONDON: With endless reserves of cool, London is one of the world’s great cities, if not the greatest. (p58)
MANCHESTER: Its world-class museums and heavyweight art galleries – spread across the city centre and west in Salford Quays – are noteworthy, but what makes this city truly special are its distractions of pure pleasure: you can dine, drink and dance yourself into happy oblivion in the swirl of nightlife (p531)
NORWICH: is a rich tapestry of meandering laneways liberally sprinkled with architectural gems (p375)
OXFORD: The genteel city of Oxford is a privileged place, one of the world’s most famous university towns – it’s soaked in history, dripping with august buildings and yet incredibly insular. (p182)
STOKE: Stoke is a sprawl of industrial townships tied together by flyovers and bypasses. (p413)
SURREY: made up of uninspiring towns and dull, sprawling suburbs (p177)
WARWICK CASTLE: Unfortunately, the summer queues at the castle can resemble a medieval siege (p403)
YORK: The city’s long history and rich heritage is woven into virtually every brick and beam, and modern, tourist-oriented York – with its myriad museums, restaurants, cafes and traditional pubs – is a carefully maintained heir to that heritage. (p501)
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