The Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland

The Michelin Guide is often associated with the legendary Michelin stars awarded to the country’s top restaurants and their chefs however, the classic red volume actually started life as a practical guide to motoring and travel. As such, the guide is as much of a book about hotels as it is about fine dining.

The 2011 edition of the guide is a special edition for readers and its compilers, the book marks the centenary of the publication in Great Britain and Ireland and as such comes with a number of special features. For a start, the main volume comes in a hardback volume, this is a welcome touch for many of us who will use the book religiously for a year or more. Secondly, the centenary edition also comes with a free 144 page volume “The history of the Michelin guide 1900-2011” which charts the development of the guide over the last century.

As for the guide itself, the volume comes in at 950 pages and covers over 1,600 hotels and 1,700 restaurants. The book is arranged regionally, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland before being sub-divided by settlement name. London again, is further sub-divided by district.

From a rating perspective, the guide uses its own system of comfort ratings for hotels based on a one to five scale, five being the best in class. In addition to the ratings, the guide also indicates other special features with icons for quiet hotels and exceptional views amongst other features.

The key features of the guide are its independence and the shear number of locations covered. From an independence perspective, no hotel or restaurant is included on a fee paying basis, the only way into the guide is through an independent inspection or at the recommendation of a reader. Secondly, there is scarcely a settlement in the UK which does not have an entry if you are stuck in an out of the way location in the middle of the night, the guide will have a helpful recommendation without having to travel half way across the country.

The downside however, of such comprehensive coverage of locations is that each entry is a little scant. There are few graphics and photos in the guide and pages often have six entries or more leaving little room for anything more than the bare facts. There are however, a good set of maps at the back of the volume.

As such, this is a guide for the practical traveller out on the road rather than a book of dream hotels to swoon over, buy a copy and stick it in the glove compartment and the book will be there for you when you need it most.

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