LONDON: It once won the unenviable title of being Britain's worst place in which to live, and last year picked up another unwelcome gong as the country's least romantic city.
But Hull, a sea port on the east coast of northern England was Saturday named as one of the world's best cities to visit in 2016.
Virtually unknown Hull shares the unexpected accolade from the respected Rough Guides organisation with Nashville, Mexico City and Vancouver, with Iceland's Reykjavik topping the 2016 list, all of them - except Hull - already well known places on the world map.
It seems Rough Guides was impressed with Hull as it prepares itself for 2017 when it will be the center of attention as Britain's City of Culture, an award granted by the government.
"It's the UK City of Culture in 2017, so this is Hull's practice run," said Rough Guides, adding: "It'll be brimming with new hotels and restaurants, and even more of that distinctive home-grown creativity the city has always had."
In its citation, placing Hull in eighth place in its top 10, Rough Guides said: "After being named the least romantic city in the UK, and once crowned one of the "crap towns" of the UK, things are finally looking up for Hull.
"It's the UK City of Culture in 2017, so this year is Hull's practice run. It'll be brimming with new hotels and restaurants, and even more of that distinctive home-grown creativity the city has always had. There are atmospheric old-timey pubs, eight excellent museums and a picturesque Old Town with cobbled streets. This year's fun is set to culminate in the September Freedom Festival, when the entire city is turned into a stage for performers and artists."
Steve Brady, leader of Hull City Council, Saturday welcomed Hull's inclusion on the Rough Guide list on its curtain-raiser year ahead of its special year in 2017.
Currently there are major projects underway in the city to ready the place for 2017, including improvement work in its city center costing over 28 million U.S. dollars.
Brady told local media today: "It does show they have come and had a good look at what's happening and presumably they have looked at the plans for the city center and obviously they have been impressed by it. After all that 'crap town' title it does show progress. Hull is low cost and all the museums are free - unlike York (its nearest rival city) where you have to pay an arm and leg."
But Brady says Hull has a lot more to do to earn the Rough Guide accolade, adding: "We are our own biggest critics. We are down to earth people and the biggest thing we need to do is convince our own population."-Asfar