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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
How cool is London?
London is the coolest city in Britain but one of the least trendy cities in Europe, according to a poll of British 18-30-year-olds.
In a new survey commissioned by branding and marketing specialists Superbrands, respondents rated England's capital top ahead of Manchester and Brighton.
But in a separate list of top European spots, London was left trailing with less than 1% of votes behind destinations including Paris, Barcelona, Ibiza and Prague.
Italy was considered the coolest country, with Iceland, England and Spain all joint second place. Germany received the unenviable title of the most uncool European country.
How cool do you think London is? Why does it rate so poorly when compared to other European destinations? Do you agree with the picks of those surveyed? What places would you vote for?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK
Nice to visit. Nicer to leave.
Although born in London I left as a small child. When taking my children back there recently I was quite worried about this crime-ridden, unfriendly, filthy place - I really didn't want to go. What I found was a place that buzzed with a real energy, and (except on the tube) the people were friendly and helpful. I'll go back - soon I hope! Yeah, it's cool!
Unhelpful to outsiders, sardine-can packed, rude, smelly, polluted and expensive. If this is "cool" then yes London is cool. I am from Birmingham, going to London makes me appreciate how friendly my City really is!!
I respect Nick and Clem's opinions because they didn't like it so they left. That's what everyone else who hates London should do instead of staying and whingeing - or is it that well-paid job keeping you here?
I have lived in London for 19 years and have appreciated ever moment of it. I originally came from a small city in the UK and until coming to London at the age of twenty, I thought the world revolved around Mums and Dads and sad city shopping malls, where displaying intellect or ambition meant you were some sort of egocentric snob and standing out from the crowd could bring on nothing but violence or disdain.
London was a revelation to me - such a cosmopolitan, open minded society with a display of great culture from all around the world. Your ambitions seemed only limited by your own effort and that you were definitely in one of the world's greatest cities.
To call the whole of London "cool" seems to be to ignore the squalor and homelessness, the litter, the poor suburbs, the mad traffic and anonymity which prevails. It has a few nice areas, but the rest of it is just ghastly. Anyone describing the whole city as "cool" has only seen a small part of it, or lives in ignorance of the city outside their own area.
London is cool. It is the culture capital of the world. I do agree that it is expensive compared to many other cities in the world but lets face it is a matter of simple economics: supply and demand. Millions of foreign visitors each year mean that London has that cool factor.
Most European capitals are cleaner, friendlier, cheaper, easier to get around and have massively lower crime rates than London.
If London is so cool and happening, why does such a big proportion of its youth spend so much time hanging glumly around on street corners or outside shops drinking, smoking, vandalising property and abusing passers by?
Why is everyone so down on London? Parks, beautiful buildings, Soho and a lot of culture, something which is severely lacking in Sydney. And as for being "like a foreign country", isn't that part of its charm?
Obviously in this case "cool" means: Filthy, smelly, crumbling, unsafe, overrated and expensive.
Colin, London, UK
London ceased being "cool" since it became completely unable to offer its residents and visitors acceptable levels of public services and facilities. If you look around the rest of Europe, and certainly other European capitals, London is by far the grottiest, one of the most inefficient and unpleasant cities. It is only "cool" for people obsessed with night clubs and those who think spending money is "cool".
Amsterdam or Berlin, amongst other European cities, show what urban living is all about.
London is a fantastic place and in my eyes will always be the cultural centre of the world. When I was a student there it had a lot more excitement but even with the rise of crime and costs of living it is first class in world terms. It is just bad luck on my part that it is too costly for me to live there comfortably and that I have to limit my visits there to annual holidays.
If you're on an elite salary and live somewhere like Notting Hill, can afford £200 to go out one night every week, £50 for a meal in a restaurant, and then extra to do all the other activities associated with being "cool", then live in London could be regarded as cool. However, someone such as myself, merely earning the average UK salary, living in one of London's many grotty, litter ridden suburbs in a shoe-box, then cool doesn't come to mind. Suffice to say, I'm looking forward to emigrating to Australia soon, swapping London for a palm tree beach lined suburb, a walk to work in clean air, ample sunshine, and the ability to afford to eat out, go to the gym, and do "cool" things. Now that's cool.
Sam W, UK
Athens was very cool last winter. The centre looked cool dressed in a thick layer of snow for the first time in four decades.
London, sadly, is becoming old and dull and decrepit. I'm assuming "cool" means the place to be? If that's the case I'd pick Antwerp, Cambridge, New Orleans (for about one month of the year), Chicago, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Newcastle, and Barcelona, with London and New York inseparable and equal ninth.
My memories of London: Camden Town, London Eye, MOMI, Covent Garden, Regent's Park, Brick Lane curries (very cool), Leytonstone, Hammersmith and City Line, rubbish bags all the way down Oxford Street, night shifts, and a general absence of human intelligence.
London has its good points and its bad points just like any other city.
However given the huge influx of new residents and tourists every year, it must have something going for it.
London may not be as 'cool' as Ibiza (full of drunken English people), Paris (full of loud Americans) or Barcelona (full of drunken English people and loud Americans) but it has one asset - most of the yobs have gone abroad for summer, leaving us normal people to enjoy our city!
To Maria, London UK: I agree with you totally. I'd like to see more of them going to Ibiza and staying there all summer. It seems to be a British thing that people are incapable of enjoying sunshine without crowding onto beaches, getting drunk and offending everyone they possibly can. It is so much better around town at the moment with a lot of these morons thousands of miles away.
I lived in London for the first 25 years of my life. Then I moved to Manchester where I have lived for the last 21 years. Absolutely nothing would persuade me to move back to that crowded, unfriendly and egocentric city that is the capital.
London is great for some people, but it's a tough old town. Young people still come here to seek their fortunes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but when it does work, London is the coolest place on Earth.
Kevin Jepson, UK
London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But it really isn't the 'coolest' (weatherwise or otherwise) place to live in.
The trouble with anywhere perceived as being 'cool' by anyone not actually living there is that they have no concept of everyday life in the area. London is a great place to visit for a weekend but try living there for a year or two. 'Cool' soon turns to 'cold' I can tell you.
London wants to be everything to everyone - that's the problem; it no longer has a soul. I've just got back from 5 years away and I'm leaving as soon as I can find a way.
Nick, UK/ Australia
London might be 'cool' at times but at other times it can be 'chilling'.
Having just moved away from London, it does not take long to realise young Londoners are underpaid. Because of this, people become nasty. This is foremost why people stay away. Also, given the high living cost, Londoners are forced into lame and uninteresting financial services jobs and cannot afford to become artists. Artists attract young people, they create a vibe.
These are the words I use to describe London: muggings, jams, masses, humidity, rain, high prices, queues and short fuses. The other side of the coin is: pubs, parks, theatre, culture, bright lights, kebabs and buildings. To be really 'cool' it's vital to have some negatives which brush against the positives. The created charge is the real 'cool'.
Anyone who reckons London is cool obviously hasn't been to Hartlepool.
Phil George, UK
Inverness is definitely cooler, in fact in winter it's absolutely freezing. Once the new film studio is up and running it will have a new facet to it and it is an infinitely better and cheaper place to live than the Big Smoke.
Cleary the respondents to this survey need a lesson in history and geography. Dublin is not part of the UK!
I would never live in London. As far as being hip and cool - it just isn't. I work in Belgium at the moment. Last weekend I went out with some friends. We didn't actually leave the house until 11. We ate in an open top restaurant and then went into the centre of Antwerp. It was 12 o' clock and there was a live concert just starting in the main square. Now that is cool.
I love London. I love the culture, the Indian food (some of the best I have ever had) as well as the great transportation and nice people.
I live in the states and it seems to me that people here are much more rude. The culture in San Diego? Hardly any compared to London.
I went to London last week and it was like being in a foreign country, I'd rather stay where I am.
London is most definitely not cool. It is overcrowded, populated by the rudest people I have ever met, and is unnecessarily expensive. I had the misfortune of living there for a year after coming back from Australia, which I why I am moving back to Kent.
I do not see how they can say Germany is not cool. I loved the place. I think it is all about the sad preconception us English have against them.
You forgot to tell them that in Newcastle you don't need a second mortgage to have a good night out.
People always tell me how 'cool' London is. I travelled around most of the UK and Ireland and I do not think London is as 'cool' as other places in the UK. London has many 'cool' sites, but overall I think places like Dublin and Edinburgh top my list.
R Sobrany, UK
As someone who lives in London, I have to say it's far from cool. It is however very expensive, polluted, dirty and smelly. There are a few nice bits but if I had a choice I would certainly live somewhere else.
Cities promote the "hive" mentality which is about as cool as yesterday's chips. No city can ever hope to be cool when compared with the wilderness. Get out there, get away from the crowds, and be yourself for a change.
Well no one asked me! People who think London is "cool" should come to Newcastle. It's friendlier, with loads to do, better beer, better transport, safer, great clubs, great variety and altogether much more fun!
How cool is London? I guess it's okay behind Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool. Actually it's not that good at all, unless you like a place that's overpriced, pretentious and full of false, ignorant people. Besides, apart from the city centre it's just a never ending line of semi dilapidated, dirty towns stuck together.
Of course, Germany once again has been chosen as the least cool place by the Brits. Not being German myself, I always wonder how many Brits have actually visited the place. It's so sad, this obsession with Germany, and those reactions tell me much more about the British than the Germans.
London is a very expensive city and is on the verge of descending into utter chaos. Tens of my friends have been mugged in the last couple of weeks. This is not cool. There are not enough jobs to enable people to afford to live here with a reasonable level of comfort. Thousands of new graduates every year will come here, expecting to find work and get rid of their debts, but instead find that the streets aren't paved with gold.
GT Chase, New York City, USA
Taking the train around London in the summer is definitely not cool - sweltering more like. In a city where traffic is permanently gridlocked, the trains don't work very well and everything is overpriced it is hard to see how the word 'cool' could be applied in any sense to London.
I've enjoyed some of my best times in London. It would be my absolute first choice for a place to live in Europe, and I'm a pretty hip 39-year-old.
Paris is pretty special but London looks fantastic with its floodlit buildings. And what an atmosphere!
Having worked in most European capitals I can easily say that London is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. The trendiest area of Paris, the Bastille, is still living in the eternally European lounge lizard era. The clubs are years behind our own (although I must say that London clubbing is overrated when compared with the north and midlands).
No doubt London is cool, but I have been here for a year and haven't been able to afford more than a couple of drinks at happy hour yet!
At least most other cities are affordable to go out in! Give me Glasgow any day!
Many thanks for giving me a list of 'cool' places. I can now avoid them all and stay safe in the knowledge that I know where all the 'cool' people are.
Although full of attractions (the London Eye is cool), London is a drab looking place and the only time I stayed in a hotel I was awoken by a large mouse under my pillow! I have never been in any rush to stay there again!
In my opinion the people of Alaska are amongst the coolest in the world - especially in the winter months.
We clearly need an EEC definition of coolness and a directive dictating how coolness should be measured. Paris apparently being cooler than London is merely due to the French measuring coolness in metric, whilst we Brits are still using the imperial coolness scale. Until this issue is properly resolved in Brussels, coolness ratings should be regarded as misleading. Tony Blair discovered this some time ago, when he realised that the temperature of Cool Britannia was being misleadingly measured in degrees Fahrenheit, instead of on the European Standard Coolness Scale.
In my mind what's definitely not cool is the word "cool". It sounds ridiculous, embarrassing and should have gone out with the Fonz. This Talking Point should be in the children's area of your website.
What's the latest word for "cool" anyway?
06 Aug 02 | UK
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