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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 21:55 GMT 22:55 UK
Palace tours 'inhuman'
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace has hit back at criticism
Buckingham Palace tours are "sterile and inhuman", according to a new guide on UK tourist attractions.

"The Which? Guide to Tourist Attractions" criticises some of the most famous tourist destinations in the country.

But Buckingham Palace comes in for particularly strong condemnation.

The book's editor, Kim Winter, said it was her least favourite of the 300 attractions reviewed.



To say that they are inhuman is using a 21st Century criticism of a building that was put up 200 years ago

Buckingham Palace tour spokesman
The palace was awarded just one star out of five for quality, after the authors found the tours "inhuman, sterile and poor value for money".

Its 4 guidebook is also criticised as too expensive.

Officials at Buckingham Palace have hit back, saying it was unfair to compare the palace to purpose-built tourist attractions.

Hugh Roberts, director of the Royal Collection, which organises the eight-week opening, said: "There must be a misunderstanding in the mind of the inspector to produce this report about what the state apartments in a palace are.

'Satisfied'

"To say that they are inhuman is using a 21st century criticism of a building that was put up 200 years ago."


Alton Towers
Alton Towers wins praise
Research showed most people who visited Buckingham Palace were satisfied with their trip, said Edward Hewlett, managing director of Royal Collection Enterprises Ltd.

"Ninety five per cent of visitors said Buckingham Palace had lived up to, or exceeded, their expectations while 79% said it was excellent or good value for money," he said.

Other venues to come under fire include the ancient stone circle at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, where the authors say "you can almost see as much from the roadside".

There is also criticism of attractions as diverse as Canterbury Cathedral and the seaside resort of Skegness.

"We've seen big variations in pricing, and at some sites the price of admission is just the start," said Ms Winter.


Stonehenge
Stonehenge is among the sites criticised
"If you've got to stump up for parking, an expensive guidebook and then pay extra to enter certain areas and even to use the loo -- not to mention food, drink and the odd item you picked up at the gift shop -- it makes for a huge outlay on a family day out."

The book, out next month, rates attractions on quality and value for money.

And it concludes that many attractions "charge an enormous amount of money for what can turn out to be a crashing disappointment."

The guide does give high ratings to some top tourist attractions, including St Paul's Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace in London, Alton Towers theme park, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, Chester Zoo, and the Tate branch at St Ives in Cornwall.

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