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Monday, 26 April, 1999, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Sights for sore eyes
buckingham palace
Buckingham Palace: "Kitsch to tasteless opulence"
Backpackers' guide Lonely Planet has criticised Buckingham Palace and other top tourist sights in the UK.

The palace rates poorly compared to the country's other stately homes, says the guide.

"The interiors range from kitsch to tasteless opulence and reveal nothing of the domestic life of the Royal Family apart from a gammy eye when it comes to interior decor."

buckingham palace
Buckingham Palace: "Kitsch to tasteless opulence"
The guide also takes exception to the palace's "flock wallpaper".

It says: "It's easy to be sniffy about the palace, especially given that neither exuberant white and gold decoration nor flock wallpaper are flavour of the decade.

"But, hell, we wouldn't really expect the Queen's front room to be like our own, would we?"

The guide does however praise the palace's Throne Room, the State Room, the Blue Drawing Room and the Long Gallery paintings.

London's Petticoat Lane market is "overrated, overpriced, and appeals only to those so bleary-eyed from the night before that they think they need broken chocolate bars, ugly trinkets and cut-price cans of Ajax".

The capital's West End suffers from "crass consumerism" and Covent Garden has "overpriced bric-a-brac".

Other tourist spots which get a pasting include Blackpool and Great Yarmouth.

Blackpool: "Tacky"
"If you want to experience the tacky taste that is a British seaside resort, big, brash Blackpool fits the bill perfectly".

Meanwhile, Great Yarmouth has "all the tacky trimmings such as amusement arcades and greasy-spoon cafes".

Land's End has been spoilt by "thoughtless development", with the theme park development there seen as a "monstrosity", says the guide.

Liverpool is "a contrast between the grandeur and decay - between the decrepit streets and boarded-up windows and the massive cathedrals and imperious buildings".

Brighton: "Marvellous"
Wales, although breathtakingly beautiful in parts, "can sometimes feel rather like England's unloved backyard - a suitable place for mines and nuclear power stations".

On the credit side, the guide describes Brighton as "marvellous", Bath as a "must-see architectural gem".

There is praise, too, for the "beautiful" Yorkshire Dales and the "superb" North Yorkshire coastline.

Open-air sex

But the guide warns that dense crowds and traffic jams are making it debatable whether it is worth visiting the Lake District at all in July or August.

It also reveals that in a recent survey, Bournemouth was voted the most popular place in Britain for open-air sex.

On Edinburgh, the guide mentions "the grim reality of life in the bleak council housing estates surrounding the city, the thriving drug scene, prostitution and a distressing Aids problem".

Off the beaten track, planners have "vandalised" Birmingham, and the Lancashire towns of Preston, Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley are seen as "depressing (and) offering little to linger for".

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "Our decor may not be everybody's cup of tea, but these are magnificent rooms which have been visited by 2.5 million people since 1993 - and that speaks volumes."

Lonely Planet spokeswoman Jennifer Cox said: "If you really love something, you are prepared to be honest about its faults."

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09 Apr 99 | UK Politics
SNP hits back at guidebook
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