|You are in: Talking Point|
Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Is London a bad place to visit?
London is a city full of yobs, bigots, dirt, homeless people and pigeons, according to a new Lonely Planet tourist guide.
The book also attacks Londoners' attitude to other people saying they would "no more speak to a stranger in the street than fly to the moon".
On the Metropolitan Police, the guide says they are "not always as colour-blind as people would like to believe".
But despite the criticism, Lonely Planet says the city is a "world-class" city and offers particular praise for the London Eye.
Is London a bad place to visit? What are your views of London? Is the criticism fair?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Still my favourite city, having lived and worked there in the fifties and visited several times since. Best place is British Museum. Always find Londoners friendly and helpful when visiting. Saddened by negative comments, but was not happy about the charges for entry to St Paul's when BM free or a donation in '99. Expensive yes, but so is Tokyo.
Despite living relatively near to London, I never really felt at home there - in fact I felt more at home in other European cities like Munich and Paris. But a couple of weeks ago, I was in the West End with my friends, and I had a blast! It's fair to say London has it's share of bad points, but it really has its own atmosphere - I can't wait to go again.
I agree with the comments entirely. London is rapidly becoming an embarrassment to the rest of the country. It's dirty and nothing works properly.
Livingstone should go to New York and learn something.
I simply ADORE London. How can anybody question the possibility of visiting it? Paradise - that is what it is.
I have visited New York, Paris and Tokyo but London remains my favourite city in the world. It brims with history, its restaurants are to die for, its museums are free and in abundance, it has great nightlife and architecture. Everyone is welcome and it is not only the capital of England but also Great Britain, the UK, the Commonwealth and arguably the world! I can't wait for the St George's Day celebrations on April the 23rd. London is the greatest city on earth.
I love Britain but I hate London. It's one of the most stressing, dirty, annoying places in the UK. Most people are incredibly rude! When I go to a shop in London I hardly ever get a smile, it's almost as though they think they are doing me a favour by selling things to me. I absolutely hate the place!
I live in London but spend the greater part of the year in Sunderland where I am a student. Yes, London is expensive, dirty and busy. Sometimes it may feel like people don't have time for you - but I wouldn't have it any other way.
I used to live in London. I escaped. Compared to London, anywhere else is bliss.
I have had the luck and privilege to have lived in Norway, America, France and stayed in many European cities. When you compare London to many of these places they do seem dirtier and the people are sometimes a little remote. But London is a city full of history and character. The people I have met in the East end of London, market traders and those true cockneys are very friendly and approachable. It is only in the main business areas where people are rushing from one meeting to another where you might find some remote people. London does have a crime problem though. More and more police stations are adopting a single police per beat or car. this is not only endangering the offices but also the public. It is sad to say but I felt a lot safer when I lived in Boston than I do when I work in London. I must point out I live in London and married a typical East end London lass. You could not find a more loving and caring family than those found in the East end.
What major city of the world isn't polluted, crime ridden, expensive and full of vagrants? However if you focus only on the negative that is what you will experience. London is a wonderful place to visit, full of history and character.
David Hazel, UK
I have never lived anywhere else (by choice). However I have visited other 'unfriendly' places such as southern Spain and Paris - even Liverpool was unfriendly (especially when they found out we were Londoners) and showed no signs of its famous humour. If you skip the tourist parts and go to the real London with real Londoners, you will find friendly people who are the most tolerant in the whole of this country, no matter if you are a northerner or from across the other side of the world. And those people who don't like living here would save themselves a fortune by moving somewhere else.
Every city in the world has its good points and bad points. London's attraction is its very high-quality culture,
available at reasonable price. On the other hand, London's worst point today would be its public transport, which
is both unreliable and expensive. In Tokyo, where I work now, the situation is completely reversed, with very
reliable public transport at reasonable prices, and exorbitant prices for any piece of culture, though some of
them are quite good. Concerts I went to during my sixth form years cost me between 5-10 pounds, but the same
concert in Tokyo would cost at least 10 times as much!!
Martin P Leggett, London, England
OK, so London is not the city it used to be. It is now as said a city full of homeless people, yobs and even paedophiles.
I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with London. I hate it when I'm there but I miss it when I'm gone. But to the person who thinks Parsians are rude, try again. I'll come to London again of course, my best mate is a Londoner, but would I want to live there? No!
Trine Dalfsen, Sweden
I unfortunately can claim to be a Londoner born and bred and lived there until I managed to escape to a better environment. If it were left up to me I would never return there but my family are still based in and around London. The place is dirty, the people unfriendly, everything is over-priced and I for one never intend living there again.
London is a fantastic place to live and work.
However, we seem to be lacking one single and central resource to the cleanliness, attractiveness and healthiness of this great city - one which our Mayor could fix in an instant.
Ken - buy some waste bins and allow people to dispose of their rubbish.
As somebody who lives in London this is the only thing that I still find amazing - and tourists must find it even more so.
Buy plastic ones if the metal ones are still seen as a terrorist threat.
I used to live in London and think it one of the most exciting cities I have ever lived in. Yes it was busy and hectic, but that just made it what it was. The people were friendly and I never had a problem whether I was alone or in a group. Lots of people are quick to put London down, but it is still one of my favourite places to visit.
Dirty, expensive and crime ridden? Certainly. Public transport from hell? You're telling me! Still, there's no where else I'd even contemplate living in the UK. And if you think we're rude, go to Paris!
I am London born and bred and would rather distance myself from this city. I am not tired of life, but absolutely fed up with its filth, aggressive vagrants and pollution, not to mention the high price of commuting and the worsening quality of public transport provided.
London is a great place to visit. I have visited London for the last four summers. You can never run out of things to see and do. I have visited museum after museum, saw play after play, etc. - all with my son - starting at age 7. What better way to learn about history and the arts for a young American. I would recommend London to anyone - I do all the time.
London is a fantastic place to visit and a fantastic place to live. I'm glad Lonely Planet said what it did. It keeps the riff-raff out. Everything it said about London is true for any mega city. It's still one of the best places in the world and I'm really looking forward to returning home (alas only for a short visit) next week!
Wayne, Bristol, England
Having visited and lived in a fair number of European cities, I can confirm that London is the most dangerous and most expensive place in Europe to live. So why have I stayed here 5 years? Because it's also an incredibly dynamic place, bursting with creativity and individualism. There's nowhere else quite like it.
While London has it's bad points they are greatly outweighed by it's goods ones. London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, it has great food, amazing art, beautiful buildings, and fun attractions. And what¿s more they say that Londoners are not friendly, but we are a very friendly group of people. What some tourists may perceive as being rude is simply that we are busy. Anyone who works in central London knows that they would never get to work if they stopped and answer every question they were asked. I have no problem answering people's questions when I am sitting on the underground or wandering around the west end, but when I am in a hurry to get to work I do not have the time, and I think it is rude of people to try and interrupt us when we are so clearly busy! How would they like it if we went to their home towns and got in the way of their day to day lives? And if you think Londoners are bad you have never been to Paris or New York. In my opinion London is the best city in the world and if you do not think that, don't go there, you definitely will not be missed.
Paul Sorensen, USA
I travel to London several times per year for business. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, and it is historically one of the world's great melting pots. Graffiti and homelessness are serious problems shared by many of the world's great population centres. Those issues should be given serious attention wherever they exist. I love London because of its energy, its green spaces and its architecture. Come and spend some time in America and it will make you appreciate the way London drivers yield to pedestrians. It will make you appreciate the way London seems to be made of a multitude of contiguous neighbourhoods instead of a compact, concrete urban high rise centre surrounded by concentric rings of unaffiliated suburbs. London is a fantastic city with its share of problems, and I am grateful for every opportunity to return there.
Last year I visited London with my family (I am an ex-pat). I have never heard so much foul language used so freely in public. I was also shocked at the number of persons roaming around intoxicated. For a first world city it is also incredibly filthy. This is not the London I remember from ten years ago. Unfortunately London is reflecting the state of the whole country.
Brendon, United States
London has to be one of the most unique cities in the world. I visited for three weeks, and I absolutely fell in love with the place. Coming from America where everything is so new, it was amazing to be in churches and buildings that were twice as old as the U.S. Visiting London has had such a big impact on me, that I actually plan to live there for awhile.
I would kill to live in London - it would be great to live in a city where there is always something to do, something you've never seen before, somewhere to go, something new to see. As for the homeless people and pigeons: they don't harm you, leave them alone!
I haven't visited London for several years now and don't miss it at all. However, from what I see on the television and read in the papers, I think it is developing like most other cities in the world. Being a country boy, I would not like to live there, but I am sure that most of the people who do, do so because they want to.
I have only been to London three times but I found the people cold and unhelpful, the food tasteless, and a general feel of everything being dirty. I do enjoy all of the museums and sights of interest. But I have seen them so I won't be back unless it's at your airports. I do enjoy the rest of England as the problems of the city do not go beyond it's boarder. The rest of your country is a delight
Is London a nice place to visit? Doubtless. Wouldn't want to live there, though.
Andrew Cover, UK
I LOVE London! It's exciting and fast, with fascinating history, architecture, style and culture. People who complain about London just don't like big cities. I can't wait to visit again.
Coming back from weekends visiting my girlfriend in Leicester I used to relish the sight of the clock at St Pancras station which told me I was home in London - it was huge, imposing and covered inches thick in years of grime.
You are now twice as likely to get mugged in London as you are in New York and the transport system hardly needs mentioning. I have lived in London all my life, except for three months I spent in Sydney and four I spent working in Bangkok. I would far sooner my daughter went out on her own at two in the morning in the streets of Bangkok than in London and Sydney is so clean you can eat the fish that come out of the harbour! Just imagine doing that in the Thames!
I love visiting London. The first few days I enjoy some of the numerous attractions London has to offer. Then I come down to earth realising I've blown three months mortgage. But if it wasn't for London, I wouldn't realise how lucky I am to live somewhere wonderful like Australia.
I wouldn't live in London if you paid me! It's OK to visit for a day or two to see friends but I was more frightened walking down Kingsway on a Saturday than I ever was when travelling across Moscow on my own. Whole swathes of the city are abandoned at the weekend, except for homeless people in doorways. Very scary!
London wouldn't be London if it weren't for all the things mentioned by Lonely Planet. Who wants to live in a boring, sterile city anyway?
I am a regular visitor to London and cannot agree with the findings of the Lonely Planet report. I have usually found Londoners to be friendly and helpful, even if in a perpetual rush. There is a vibrancy and zest for living you seldom find in other UK cities. I can't have enough of the place. I am astonished at people who state that they hate living there. Perhaps they should move to somewhere like Doncaster or Morecambe, immortalised by a well-known comic as akin to "a cemetery with lights", where the local high life will match their low aspirations.
I stayed in London for only three months. During my stay, I felt "How lovely London is!''
It's really beautiful. I'm sure that people understand my feeling when they come to Tokyo.
It's expensive but otherwise a great city. The Lonely Planet people just like slagging off Britain, which is not surprising seeing as it's often British ex-pats who write their guides.
Think London's bad? Visit Manchester.
If local councils spent as much money on run-down council estates as they do trying to lure tourists to the capital then claims of London being a dirty city could be better defended.
A few months ago, my boyfriend and I saved a tourist from being viciously mugged; a year ago a heroin addict broke into our flat at 0500; a friend giving some people directions was attacked so badly that he'll never walk properly again; another friend had her mobile and purse yanked out of her hands! Is it any wonder that the Londoners appear unfriendly? We're frightened of getting mugged! We need the police back on our streets to make London a safer and "visitable" place, together with a reduction of the sky-high prices charged everywhere.
I love London and think it's one of the most majestic cities in the world. Did you know that Big Ben's minute hands are 14 feet long? Or that the NatWest building is built in the shape of the NatWest logo but only when seen from above? Or that the whole of the Embankment is just a decking on top of massive sewage tunnels? Perhaps the most boggling fact about London is that 1,000 toilets are flushed in the city every second! London is tops!
Lonely Planet's London guide is written in English and there are no more anti-English views than those of some of the English left. I've just finished living in south London for six months, and can say that while the lack of friendliness is true, that's more a feature of large multicultural cities where visitors are a daily occurrence than a specific problem of London's. As for dirt, yobs and homeless these remarks could just as easily be applied to almost any vibrant city of size. Lastly any sector such as the police will undoubtedly have the same prejudice problems as those around them but the Met has done more to cut out racism than any other force in the world and does not deserve to be painted in such a way. And all this from an anti-London northerner!
I am a Londoner born and bred and love it. However it is an extremely frustrating place in which to live. I could moan about the tubes, pollution and the usual stuff people go on about, but it's not these things that rub me up the wrong way. What really gets on my nerves, having lived and worked in other world capitals (who believe me have their own hideous problems), is the fact that we don't have all-night opening of pubs, restaurants and other places. It's embarrassing and uncivilised. When friends from abroad come over here, they can't quite get it into their heads that we can't do much after 11pm! This needs sorting out IMMEDIATELY and would help sort out the binge drinking culture prevalent in the UK.
Richard, London, UK
Goodness me... what major city isn't full of dirt, homeless people and pigeons? And anyone who can't see beyond those things, and chooses not to visit, is missing out on one of the most exciting, diverse and fast-moving cities in the world. Yes, there are things wrong in London, but overall it's a great place to live. You just need to look beyond the surface.
I live in London and anything that would discourage tourists and the tacky shops that cater to them has to be encouraged.
As someone who firmly believes in the old saying about being tired of life when one is tired of London, I have to say that the criticisms ARE justified. But, like any city, there are good and bad things. The guide still describes London as "world-class" so it's not all doom and gloom. So, yes, London is still a great place to visit despite its less attractive side.
London is extremely expensive when it comes to eating/drinking out etc. I really feel I am being ripped off - I don't feel that in Edinburgh or other continental cities I have visited.
Chris B, England
I think it's pretty accurate, especially the part about Londoners being unfriendly - I've never met so many unhelpful and rude people in one place in my life! To be fair though, most of the criticism could be levelled at every other British city as well. We are a nation of litter louts, drunken yobs, traffic jams and rip off prices. I don't particularly want to live here anymore, and if I were a foreign tourist, I certainly wouldn't want to come for a visit.
Truth hurts doesn't it!
I think they hit the nail on the head. Anyone who might pretend that it isn't dirty is either blind or a liar. Still, despite the down points, it is great fun, and one of the world's top cities.
Jon Cooper, UK
I don't think London is very different from any other big city in this respect and it would be unrealistic to expect a city not to have its share of homeless, hooligans etc. It's a shame people are dwelling on this aspect of our beautiful city. There's a lot more to London than that!
If London was so bad a place to visit, why would so many millions of peoples visit it every year.
London is absolutely wonderful place to visit and has more character than some continental big cities. Plenty of places to visit but more importantly, character.
Jason, Manchester, England
Yeah, it's full of Londoners!
London deserves a caning. I hate the place. However, talk to a proper Londoner and you will not find nicer people. Crime and the fear of crime make London a very daunting place to live. I honestly feel sorry for indigenous Britons who have to live there.
Like any major city in the world, London has its good and bad points. We have our nice tourist areas and obviously have our rough inner city areas. Most tourist areas happen to be in the centre of London, which is a major traffic route for Londoners. So if tourists slow traffic, making people late, then obviously the tourists are not going to be loved.
London is culturally rich, lots of fun, and no more expensive than other world cities such as New York, Tokyo, or Paris. Lonely Planet are gradually eroding their credibility with travellers by constantly trying to sensationalise the bad points of various locations (not just London). One observation - tourists spend billions of pounds in the UK each year. Tourism is one of the biggest earners in the UK economy. If we're unfriendly to tourists (as some of the fatuous postings in this forum suggest) then they stop visiting us, we lose that income, and we all become, quite literally, poorer as a result.
27 Mar 02 | England
London full of 'dirt, yobs and bigots'
10 Mar 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
Europe's 'filthiest city'
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Travel guide paints grim picture
10 Dec 01 | England
London Eye aims to go permanent
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy