Thursday, October 05, 2006

The City Guide is the New Upsell

In preparation for an upcoming trip to Asia I've encountered travel guides from some surprising sources. It seems like every magazine has their own "city" guide. I can understand a magazine like Time Out churning out guides of their ever expanding global brand. Their guides are basically mini-versions of the magazine with a focus on nightlife and shopping, something that traditional guides like Lonely Planet and Fodor's don't necessarily cover with the same detail. But now Wallpaper has come out with some handsome and very petite guides that I happen to get a hold of from a connection in the magazine industry. And researching hotels last night I happened upon the Economist's city guides. The Economist? What kind of travel aesthetic are they espousing?
"The best places to be serious"
"Top hotels in which to ponder the effects of globalization"
"Restaurants that offer dense, drawn-out, and ultimately depressing explorations of food"
Really, though. I kid. Economist, I love you and your relentlessly staid articles on politics and the world. In fact, in college I went through an afflictive phase where I'd force myself to read all the issues of the Economist in the study of this Park Avenue family where I'd babysit every week. But they should leave the fun travel tips to the magazines that espouse the things we look for when traveling: interesting design, culture, and sites.
And how many guidebooks can one carry around these days? The Wallpaper guides are stylish, but there's no glossary for how to say "No thank you, I don't eat cuttlefish." For that, I'm sticking with Lonely Planet.

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