Our research shows what major tourist attractions look like to their most disappointed visitors – would you still go?
Whether you’re visiting the UK from overseas or are a Brit looking for an enjoyable day out on home soil, there are some fantastic attractions all over the country just waiting to be discovered. But research shows online reviews have a significant impact on travel decisions, so negative write-ups through sites like TripAdvisor might put visitors off even making a trip.
So, what do tourist attractions look like in the eyes of their harshest critics?
Well, My Favourite Cottages have found out.
We used AI tool DallE 2 to visualise exactly how some of the UK’s major attractions might look on their worst days, taking prompts straight from the mouths of their most disappointed visitors. By analysing one-star reviews on Trip Advisor, we found complaints about the experience at each attraction, and AI did the rest.
Discover the results below. Would these put you off?
The Roman Baths, originally constructed between 60-70AD, are of great historic and cultural interest. But beware of overcrowding, as visitors have complained of being “crammed in around the baths,” “long queues,” and having a generally “disappointing” experience. The baths themselves have even been likened to “an uncleaned pool” or “green puddle.”
Located in Cornwall, The Eden Project celebrates plants and the natural world by growing a wide range of species in its two enormous biomes. Unfortunately, some visitors have experienced “overcrowding,” and described the project as “tired-looking” and “run down.” Others have mentioned “dying plants,” “overflowing bins,” and a “long walk to the domes” from the parking facilities.
Despite these negative comments, The Eden Project has over 13,000 reviews, with just 6% being one-star. In fact, more than 5,600 people have given the attraction five stars over the years, so it’s clearly well worth a visit.
Edinburgh Castle in Scotland has been occupied by humans since the Iron Age. Yet, modern-day visitors described the building as “lifeless” and “full of gift shops,” ruining the history of the place. There are also said to be “long queues” or “overcrowding,” with many exhibits closed on several occasions.
On the Isle of Wight, there’s a row of three chalk stalks protruding about 30 metres out of the sea - known as The Needles. Some visitors to the area have stated that the chair lift down to the beach ruins the landscape, making it difficult to get that picture-perfect view. They also noted “overcrowding,” and “narrow, slippery steps” (should you choose to avoid the stairlift) - though this is likely to be weather-dependent and not a permanent perception of the area.
Known colloquially as Brighton Pier, this is one of the biggest attractions in the southeast. But some people weren’t happy with their experience of the pier, leaving reviews that mentioned “long queues” for rides, many of which were closed or broken. The pier itself was apparently “slippery” and “littered,” with “full bins” and “paint falling off.”
A prehistoric monument set on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, Stonehenge is a must-see attraction for tourists from all over the world. However, visitors to the stones have been surprised by “huge, barbed wire fences” obstructing the view and how far they are from the walkway. There have also been mentions of “security guards in florescent jackets,” and the attraction simply being referred to as “large-scale rubble in a vague circle.”
A historic monument in the capital, The Tower of London stands 29 metres tall and is owned by The Crown Estate. But the attraction has been described as “underwhelming” and “pure chaos,” with “screaming children everywhere,” “long queues,” and “dirty toilets” that are ruining the experience for visitors.
Created as a result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption, The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is a natural wonder. However, some visitors have been frustrated by “hordes of people” ruining the view, and “tourists crawling over the rocks.” Others were frustrated by security guards. Its beauty was described as “over-exaggerated,” and the attraction was referred to as “just a pile of odd-shaped rocks.”
One of the most famous artworks in the region, The Angel of the North is a contemporary sculpture by Antony Gormley located by the busy A1 Road in Gateshead. However, many visitors to the site felt it looked more “like an upended aeroplane” and was only “so-called art.” Some visitors commented that the statue is “rusty old junk” that “needs painting” and is an “eyesore” amongst an otherwise beautiful landscape.
The highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, takes between five and seven hours to climb (on average). But the experience at the top wasn’t as tranquil as climbers might have hoped for, with some reviewers complaining of “rubbish views,” “long queues,” and “a gigantic café” at the summit. The climb itself wasn’t described favourably either, with an apparent lack of toilet facilities meaning hikers were “going to the toilet on the ground,” leaving “excrement behind rocks” and there being a “smell of urine everywhere.”
Whilst some of these images might look like the last place that you’d want to spend time at, there are also hundreds of positive reviews for every attraction listed above – this is simply the worst-case scenario, as interpreted by a robot that's never been there.
We’d highly recommend visiting each attraction to make up your own mind. And don’t forget to leave a review - but remember that your words really can influence others (so, be kind!)
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