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Lonely Planet: Britain full of “overpriced” restaurants and hotels that lack style

By Becky Paskin , 12-May-2011
Last updated on 12-May-2011 at 16:00 GMT

Britain’s restaurants and hotels are too expensive and lack quality compared to the rest of Europe, and will ultimately drive Britons abroad for their holidays this year.

That’s the opinion of David Else, editor of Lonely Planet’s latest Great Britain guidebook, who claims holidaying in Britain is just as expensive as going abroad.

The UK has enjoyed an inbound tourism boom over the past few years thanks in part to the cheap pound, but while Britain offers great value for overseas visitors, Britons are feeling the strain.

While he admits Britain’s history, scenery and people make it “one of the most fascinating places in the world”, if Briton’s don’t feel they are getting value for money they will holiday elsewhere.

“Everyone is looking harder to get more bang for their buck and a return to Great British value,” he said.

“Our authors searched the length and breadth of the country, on a mission to find the best value restaurants, accommodation and attractions. Whilst they found some fantastic places, there were many which were overpriced or lacking in quality. Unfortunately at a time when everyone is in desperate need of a great value summer getaway some of Britain’s tourism industry just doesn’t deliver.”

Canned meals

When it comes to food, the guide goes on to say that cities such as Bath, Cardiff, Manchester and Edinburgh can give London, which is particularly overpriced, a run for its money. It recommends visitors are “often better spending £5 on a top-notch curry in Birmingham or a homemade steak-and-ale pie in a country pub in Devon than forking out £30 in a restaurant for a ‘modern European’ concoction that tastes like it came from a can.”

It also suggests visitors opt for gastropubs “as a safe bet for a good meal out with their top-notch no-frills food.”

Where accommodation is concerned, Else says that while some hotels offer “excellent facilities and a warm welcome at a fair price”, others cost over the odds. And while budget hotels offer great value, the guide says “Most are totally lacking in style or ambience, but who cares? You’ll only be there for eight hours, and six of them you’ll be asleep.”

The guide goes on to describe Edinburgh as one of the world’s “most fascinating cities”, Manchester as “truly special”, and London as “one of the world’s great cities, if not the greatest”. However Cardiff was pegged as a “prodigious boozing town”, Surrey as “made up of uninspiring towns and dull, sprawling suburbs” and Essex as being “home to chavs”.

The 9th edition of Lonely Planet’s Great Britain guidebook is compiled by a team of 10 independent authors who visit all destinations in the guide personally. According to Lonely Planet, its authors take pride in “getting all the details right and telling it how it is”.

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