Haggling Over Pyramid Ratings in Our Guidebooks

Our guidebooks have been evolving with annual updates since the first edition of Europe Through the Back Door in 1980. I’m in the midst of month three of my annual four months of guidebook research. But even with four focused months of travel annually, I can’t begin to cover all our chapters. Now I have the joy of a trusted team of writers and researchers that help us meet our goal of covering all of Europe with the best and most lovingly updated guidebooks in print.

Lots of my favorite places have been favorites for literally decades, and we need to constantly reconsider old loves. Last week, I received this thoughtful email from my valued co-author and lead researcher, Cameron Hewitt, who recently returned from a trip to Germany and Britain. He suggested that I reconsider the number of stars (or “pyramids” in our jargon) I awarded to various sights. If you’ve seen our guidebooks, you know how this works:
Each sight gets a rating, from zero pyramids to three pyramids (Δ Δ Δ). As we explain in our books, these ratings mean the following:

Δ Δ Δ  Don’t miss

Δ Δ   Try hard to see

Δ   Worthwhile if you can make it

zero Δ Worth knowing about

These pyramids (like Michelin stars) are carefully and sparingly awarded. They have a real impact on travelers’ itinerary priorities, and we take them very seriously. I agreed with all of Cameron’s suggestions. And, for the upcoming 2014 editions, we have added or subtracted stars for these sights for the reasons explained.