Wednesday, 12 March 2008

London's most popular...

One of my internet activities is posting reviews on Qype, the German-owned review community, which now has members in the UK, France and (of course) Germany, with reviews covering places across Europe.

Unsurprisingly, within the UK, London is the most reviewed city, and one of the most interesting developments recently has been the establishment of a list of the 'Most reviewed places in London'. OK, I know the Qype community may not be representative of anything other than itself, but I find it interesting to see where others are going and what they are moved to comment on, and it's fun to speculate why!

Top of the list - a bit of a surprise this - is Borough Market, with 47 reviews - including 4 in German and 3 in French. On average it gets 4 stars out of 5 and, interestingly, the French are equally generous - potentially a surprise, given the generally high quality of food in France. Or perhaps they know a thing or two we don't? In contrast, the Brits are a bit more critical, with some feeling the market has gone downhill a bit in recent times - comments on the lines of 'having too much trendy hype for its own good'.

The next entries are less surprising and include some firm tourist favourites. Second in the list, with 33 reviews, is the London Eye. This is actually London's fifth most visited attraction, and the most popular for which you have to pay. It's visitor numbers are, of course, limited by its physical capacity, compared with the various museums. But in the view of Qypers, the views and overall experience make it a tourist must.

Third in the list is Tate Modern, the iconic and vibrant modern institution on the South Bank, attracting 28 reviews. With a shade under 5 million visitors a year, this is London's most visited attraction, bar none. Just behind on the list, with 27 reviews (and the only one in West London...), is Harrods. Interestingly, this a favourite with the Germans and French, who contributed 11 of the reviews. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the overall score (4 out of 5) hides more variability, with not everyone enamoured with the crush of tourists and generally high prices, although the French seem to like it more than the Germans - some cultural issues there about luxury shopping, perhaps?

Next on the list is the British Museum, the most popular attraction until the arrival of Tate Modern, and still a strong number two, with 4.83 million visitors in 2006-07, and 25 Qype reviews. Unsurprisingly, this scores a firm 5 stars out of 5, befitting one of the world's great museums, and an iconic building. Another shop comes next, with Hamleys claiming 23 reviews, and that great green lung, Hyde Park, with 22 reviews.

What about other places? The list so far only includes those places with over 20 reviews. Coming close - and a good West London contender - is the Natural History Museum, with 20 reviews. This is probably the best child-friendly option in the list, (none of the London Eye's queues, plenty of toilets, and less vertigo...) and again one in an astonishing building. It's the fourth most popular attraction according to Visit London, with 3.75 visitors a year.

The other major attractions have a little way to go yet: the National Gallery (London's third most popular attraction) has 13 reviews, on a par with Shakespeare's Globe theatre. Perhaps Qypers are less turned on by traditional art? Both the Victoria and Albert Museum and St Paul's Cathedral have ten reviews apiece - languishing behind Tower Bridge and Kew Gardens (14 reviews each), the Royal Albert Hall (13 reviews) and Selfridges (17 reviews).

Even revamped St Pancras station has 12 reviews - all in English so far. Clearly none of our French cousins has yet felt so moved as to comment...

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