As a sometimes writer of travel guides, I am obsessed with them. If you read and travel enough, you’ll notice subtle differences between the main brands. And there’s a new kid in town, coming all the way from Denmark. We’ll get to that in a sec.
Here’s a quick debriefing of the ones you already know.
Fodor’s appeals to upper-middle-class wanderers who have money to burn and high-end tastes. Although I am biased Fodor’s is my favorite as they only hire local writers. And the books completely revolutionized the travel industry.
To quote father Fodor:
Frommer’s is for middle of the road wanderers who want to be cutting-edge, but don’t have fancy-pants places in their budget.
Lonely Planet is for those kids who want to see Germany but “can’t afford” anything but a hostel. Broke travellers fascinate me. In my early twenties, I barely had the funds for my $600 a month rent. Let alone plane fare to an exotic destination. It was all spaghetti O’s and frozen burritos. I couldn’t imagine spending a month in Spain on my catalog-writer’s salary.
That’s just me though. I think I should have been more daring with my $12 an hour. (Forget eating! I am going to France).
At First Look:
It’s a small, attractive guide that will easily fit into your purse or man bag (psst: everyone carries one there). With it’s chic black cover, it looks like it was designed by Michael Kors. It’s modern, beautiful, and has a classic ribbon bookmark built right in and a nice pull out map right in the back. If I judged books by their covers, I would highly recommend this guide.
I traveled to Copenhagen last fall, so I know what to expect of the city and the book covers it well. Large photos showing Copenhagen’s young urbanites pepper its pages. A quick flip through tells you you’re dealing with an ultra-hip city.
Ditch the big sneakers and white socks and replenish your wardrobe with items from Anthropologie before you go.
If I were a model scout, I would just hang out in Denmark. The women are beautiful, the clothes are modern and tailored, and everyone rides around on bikes wearing adorable jumpers and shoes that the US probably won’t see for another two years.
You’ll get a really good sense of this from the photos.
As far as the information goes, it comes in user-generated quotations mostly from noma chefs and waiters, the first guide I’ve ever seen that lets chefs pick the restaurants. Young Copenhageners recommend neighborhoods, coffee shops, restaurants, and attractions. It’s more where to hang out than what tour to take or what restaurant to try. Don’t expect lengthly descriptions. This guide is formatted to meet modern attention spans.
For some reason, the book includes the recommender’s birth years. If you’re above 30, you might grow envious, as I did, of the Copenhagen-located chef born in 1987. I spiraled into an existential crisis when I found that all of the cool Copenhageners quoted in the book were younger than me and had better jobs.
Am I still young? Are these places still for me? Can I still go dancing?
Yes, yes, yes.
The Final Word
This is a great book for young, hip travellers who are “so over” major attractions and want recs from real denizens, not trip advisors who all go to the same places and complain about them. Not only denizens, but chefs and servers from Noma, the world’s best restaurant.
I liked that it’s catering to a young audience, but in “traditional” (grimace!) book form. It sets out to uncover great places and being all user-generated, you don’t have to worry about the user’s credibility – you know, they like it because they like it, not because they were offered a free meal. But being that this is citizen travel journalism, it’s lacking in facts, like ticket prices and opening hours and what happened in the early 1800s, and why the city is laid-out like it is, etc. So it isn’t the deepest travel guide, but it gives a great overview.
The book is available here, on the UK version of Amazon and in stores in Denmark.
momondo also offers color-coded interactive travel guides accessible online.
I personally prefer the book. Reading electronically seems so impersonal to me. There’s no new book smell. There’s no dog earring, no underlining passages, no showing off what you’re reading (not that I do, but I would love the possibility of striking up a conversation with a total stranger about what I am currently reading.