Book now for the trip of a lifetime

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The Independent Online
A TRAVEL guide will be published shortly to a place few travellers wish to see. Hotter than the Sahara, it is a destination where your flight is delayed indefinitely, overweight Americans disrupt your siesta and a German family is always first to the beach.

It requires only a one-way ticket. The Traveller's Guide to Hell, published next month by Cadogan books, contains everything you are ever likely to need to know about the inferno.

The book is part science, taking in the history of Hell in literature, cartoons and films, making reference to Dante and the mythology of Hell, including detailed information on the seven deadly sins.

It is also part spoof and like other "travellers' bibles" contains a comprehensive section on information for visitors - the strapline reads "Don't leave this world without it".

The guide suggests you should pack lightly because everything will be supplied by your hosts - the authors say Satan is "not such a bad dude once you get to know him". Backpackers will be pleased to learn admission has been free since the Christians began monopolising the image of Hell, though there are few student discounts.

The section on getting there reminds you that "the road to Hell is wide and easy and paved with good intentions". Alternatively, it notes, ensure a swift trip by being the first burial in a new graveyard; legend has it the devil carries off the first customer, so medieval churches would bury a dog first.

The accommodation section is detailed, offering a selection of Chinese, Buddhist, Islamic and Norse Hells as well as those envisaged by the poets Blake and Milton.

Those worried about traveller's tummy should bear in mind that lavatories are few and far between; the guide advises you to go before leaving home because "eternal punishment is without relief".

Food and drink are limited "to a bottle of beer on a string that remains just out of reach". And be warned if you want to write home: the guide reckons the mail service is even worse than the Italian post. Phoning, however, is easy - the international dialling code is 00-666.

Finally, should you get bored with Hell, the guide notes you can always pop over the border into Limbo ("a real must, though a non-smoking area") or Purgatory ("appeals to special interest groups").

"It's just a bit of fun," said Antonia McCahon, Cadogan's marketing manager. "We like to get away from the traditional dry listings of other guides."

The book follows a genre established by PJ O'Rourke's classic Holidays in Hell, a compilation of nightmarish and skin-crawling vacations.

There have also been "concept" guidebooks, including Cadogan's own guide to Mars, which recommended a "crisp and bracing climate and picturesque boulders far from the madding crowds". Like the guide to Mars, the Hell guide was written by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls. "Dana said she was keen to write the Hell book because more people were likely to get there than to Mars," said Ms McCahon.