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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Britain far from great, says guide
Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge: "Cock-up of all cock-ups"
Visitors to Britain can expect high prices, sub-standard service and rainy weather according to a warts-and-all travel guide.

Some of the UK's best-known tourist attractions come in for heavy criticism in the new edition of the Lonely Planet guide, published on Wednesday.

And British hotels are in such a state that guests soon realise "Fawlty Towers was really a documentary," the book says.

The comments will deal another blow to the UK tourist industry - already reeling from the foot-and-mouth crisis despite government efforts to convince visitors the country is "open for business".

Lonely Planet's verdict
Windsor - crawling with tourists
Guildford - decidedly ugly at first glance
Southend-on-Sea - typical, tacky English seaside resort
Dorset - endearing
Skegness - full of jolly B&Bs
The guide does praise some "lively cities" and parts of the country which are off the usual tourist trail.

But the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is said to be barely worth the effort and Land's End is dubbed a "Thatcherite monument to the triumph of crass commerce and over culture".

Other areas like the Shambles in York, Matthew Street in Liverpool and London's Oxford Street are labelled too over-crowded for proper sight-seeing.

The capital comes in for particular criticism for its "horrifically" high prices.

And last year's opening and immediate closing of the swaying Millennium Bridge over the Thames was said to be the "cock-up of all cock-ups".

The guide describes Edinburgh as a beautiful and lively city marred by "a thriving drug scene, prostitution and a distressing Aids problem".

And although it concedes that Blackpool is worth a look, the seaside town is said to be "well past its use-by-date."

Lively cities

Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Manchester, and Birmingham get rare rave reviews in the guide and are said to be some of the country's liveliest cities along with Aberdeen and Swansea's Mumbles area.

Cardiff is praised for its architecture and East Sussex for its picturesque countryside.

Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard - "not worth the effort"
But restaurants across the country are said to be unfriendly to children, food prices are said to be too high and the quality of service too low.

The much loved British fry-up, which is popular with tourists, is dubbed death on a plate in the guide.

"Tourists tend to enjoy the traditional English breakfasts because they don't eat such things often at home. If they did, they would die."

A trip to the pub is likely to bring tourists into contact with "liquored-up lager louts" indulging in drunken brawls.

And our public toilets are said to be "pretty grim".

Lonely Planet defended its controversial stance and said it had a duty to point the way to lesser known attractions, which might otherwise not be on the visitor's itinerary.

The company said the foot-and-mouth outbreak had shown not only the value of tourism to Britain but also the need to carefully plan future tourist development.

The Lonely Planet guide to Britain is published by Lonely Planet Publications, priced 15.99.

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