This Michelin Europe guide will definitely appeal to anyone who’s a regular traveller into Europe, from London or anywhere else. It’s aimed both at the business and the leisure traveller, though the business market is clearly in the publisher’s mind with the inclusion of cities such as Strasbourg, Zurich and The Hague (for a full list of cities covered, see below). But anyone who’s holidaying in Europe and is the least bit interested in food will find restaurant and hotel recommendations for popular tourist spots such as Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Edinburgh, Lyon and Prague.
Inevitably there are some things you might wonder about. There’s a section on Glasgow but not on Venice, for example. Now we love Glasgow, and it has some fantastic eating places. We can definitely recommend Michael Caines and Brian Maule at Chardon d’Or from personal experience, but would have thought The Ubiquitous Chip would be in there too.
Many people do criticise Venice as there are places which are tourist traps serving mediocre food. But it also has some superb restaurants, and surely deserves inclusion as one of the main cities of Europe, by anyone’s standards? And does Birmingham in England merit 11 pages, but Bordeaux nothing?
But you could argue forever about which cities should and shouldn’t be included. As long as you know what’s in and what isn’t, you can decide for yourself whether it’s a guide worth buying. Here’s a full list of the main cities of Europe, covered by the Michelin Guide:
Germany (Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart)
Austria (Vienna, Salzburg)
Belgium (Brussels, Antwerp)
Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia)
France (Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Toulouse)
United Kingdom (London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow)
Italy (Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence)
Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague)
Poland (Krakow, Warsaw)
Czech Republic (Prague)
Sweden (Stockholm, Goteborg)
Switzerland (Bern, Geneva, Zurich)
The guide was first published in 1982 and this is now the 30th edition. There are 1,557 hotels reviewed in the 2011 edition, 110 of them being new entries. There are also 1,771 restaurant reviews, with 199 of those being brand new too. The guide includes a fairly modest 15 restaurants that have 3 Michelin stars, as this guide aims to cover all travel budgets. But gourmets will still find 58 2-star restaurants and 284 1-star restaurants, alongside 23 pubs that are recommended for their food, and 34 tapas bars.
To check typical coverage we looked at a city we know quite well, and about which we have recently updated a guidebook ourselves: Amsterdam. We were rather disappointed in the coverage of the main sights. It’s not that it’s superficial – this is, after all, a guide to hotels and restaurants – but that it was curious and not current.
It suggests you visit the Van Gogh Museum only if you have three days in the city, your first day being devoted to a canal cruise. Nothing wrong with canal cruises, but they won’t take all day and the Van Gogh Museum is one of Amsterdam’s prime attractions. As is the Anne Frank House, but that one doesn’t even merit a recommendation if you have three days to visit the city. To include the Red Light District on your first day, but not to mention the Anne Frank House over three days, is definitely getting your Amsterdam priorities wrong.
The guide also hasn’t been kept up-to-date. There is no mention of the fact that the Stedelijk Museum has been closed for the last few years for renovation, and the entry on the Rijksmuseum (right) is both incomplete and has an editing error: ‘The Rijksmuseum has been undergoing extensive renovation and the reopened in 2008’ [sic]. Well, we don’t know what reopened in 2008, but it certainly wasn’t the Rijksmuseum, which only fully re-opens in 2013. This is a careless updating job.
Where the Michelin guide does score well, of course, is in its extensive coverage of hotels and restaurants. For Amsterdam there are 16½ pages of them, covering the centre, the south and west suburbs, and hotels and two restaurants out at Schiphol Airport. While they tend to favour the pricier end of the market, there are some cheaper places included, but it’s definitely not a guide for the budget traveller. It’s primarily for those who care about their food and their accommodation, and want to know where to find the best
If you travel a lot to some of the cities covered, then yes. Use it as a hotel and restaurant guide and you should be satisfied. But you’ll still need to buy a conventional guidebook too, to steer you to the sights.
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