London is the most reviewed city in the world on TripAdvisor, but not everyone leaves happy

Which popular attractions were referred to as 'full of pictures of dead people', 'just pieces of glass' or the 'poorly-lit hell hole'?

World-famous attractions, Michelin-star restaurants, “loads of hot sex” (if you ask Michael Gove) – London has it all for visitors. So it comes as little surprise that the British capital was the most reviewed city in the world in 2014 on TripAdvisor, the online travel site.

But not everyone is impressed. A look at reviews that place attractions in the lowest quality category – one out of five stars – has revealed a seething underbelly of discontented, angry and, frankly, grumpy visitors. This community of ‘one-starrers’, as we shall term them, have misery as their default setting, and seem to visit attractions just so they can complain about them.

Dr Johnson famously declared that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”, and these people are no exception.  

The London Eye was the UK’s most-reviewed attraction by domestic visitors, and gained five stars from most TripAdvisor users. You can see why – the broad sweep of the Thames, set against the backdrop of the Palace of Westminster, and the towers of Windsor Castle glinting in the distance. ‘Ahem, hold on’, said the one-starrers. “Very boring, waste of time, and expensive”, wrote one.  “It’s just so boring I’m lost for words”, said another.

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Then we come to the Shard, which houses the UK’s most reviewed restaurant, the Aqua Shard. This received a similar backlash, despite attracting overwhelmingly positive feedback. The one-star reviews went from the philosophical, to the absurd. One person commented that the building was “just pieces of glass”.

Another one-starrer apparently had an epiphany mid-review, questioning why he had ever visited the building in the first place. “What is so appealing about seeing the Houses of Parliament or the Millennium Wheel at a greater height and it being smaller?” he asked. Then, to round it off, one visitor had a moment of sheer genius: “Did not enjoy the view – there’s glass in the way”.

But don’t get them started on the National Gallery, that “poorly-lit hell hole”, as one reviewer described it. In a post entitled “National Gallery or National Disgrace?” he continued: “Three men and his dog were allowed to saunter around the whole exhibition, while hoi polloi were treated with Olympian contempt.”

The home of works by da Vinci, Monet and Turner was described as “just a collection of pictures” by one reviewer, while another complained that it was “full of pictures of dead people”. But the most damning review shot right to the heart of the matter: “This was really boring”, it said. “Why can’t they get some new stuff in?”

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London’s finest sites were dispatched one by one like turkeys at a festive slaughterhouse. One reviewer lambasted the “disgusting opulence” of Buckingham Palace, apparently unaware that palaces tend to err on the fancy side. What about Regents Park, a 395-acre oasis designed by one of England’s greatest Georgian architects, John Nash? “As with just about every park in London, a dead and depressing landscape sparsely interspersed with trees and greenery,” according to one reviewer.

Meanwhile, the Tower of London, the home of the Beefeaters, has apparently reverted back to its former status as a place of dread. One reviewer painted the scene: “If there were not 10,000 people inside then it was close to it; all jostling, pushing, coughing, spitting and farting.”

Another reviewer condemned the high ticket prices, allowing for a minor semantic confusion: “Robbery not armed because the Beefeaters are armless, but a robbery in any case it was.” But pity the poor soul who was left dumbfounded after a visit to Westminster: “Travelled all the way from Macclesfield to see Big Ben, but couldn’t find him”. 

After reading all of this, you can only conclude that the one-starrers would have saved a lot of time if they had listened to the advice of one of their flock, who wrote the following pearl of wisdom after a trip to Westminster Abbey: “Don’t bother going. Just Google some pictures.”

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