October 2008


Lyin’ Lonely Planet

Sometimes living in Weimar gets a bit too Goethe.

There’s the Goethe Haus, the Goethe Garden Haus, the statue of Goethe, the library with Goethe’s manuscripts, the cemetery housing Goethe, Goetheplatz, the Goethe Café, and, for the inner-wanderer, the Goethewanderweg. It’s probably a lot like Stratford-upon-Avon, except that I’ve never actually read Goethe and I am a bit sick of being surrounded by tourists who go snap happy every time they see something Goethesque.

That’s not to say that I don’t have my moments.

This long weekend is centered on going with Katya to the two Technik Museums, one in Sinsheim (Friday’s visits), and one in Speyer (that’s Saturday). Naturally we need to sleep at night, and, with my deepest apologies to Heidelbergerin, I forgot that we were staying in Heidelberg. It wasn’t the focus of my travel planning.

Yesterday, after having worn ourselves out at Sinsheim, Katya and I wandered into old town on a quest for something I once read about in Lonely Planet—the plaque on the Hotel Goldener Hecht that says, “Goethe almost slept here”.

Unfortunately the plaque does not apparently exist—the hotel clerk confirmed the story that Goethe tried to stay at the hotel but was turned away. According to the clerk, it was because the hotel was full; according to Lonely Planet, the clerk didn’t recognize Goethe.

This greatly disappoints me—I really wanted to photograph the sign so that I could paste it up around Weimar.

It’s not the first time Lonely Planet has mislead me, and probably not the last (since I tend to favor their books), but it is certainly the most disappointing.

6 comments to Lyin’ Lonely Planet

  • Not Goethe.

    You can write in to lonelyplanet.com and let them know for their next edition.

  • Aaron

    Hey there Adam, sorry the guide let you down, you can get in touch with the Lonely Planet team and let them know what went wrong for you.




  • I’ve never even used a Lonely Planet book, and now I am less inclined to do so. But that would have been a great sign! You know what is strange? Every time I read one of your entries, it triggers a story or memory in my head. It is like an inspiration hot bed!

  • @NewWrldYankee: All guidebooks are going to have mistakes–I happen to prefer Lonely Planet because it is text driven. I detest guidebooks filled with pretty pictures and glossy pages–I find them to contain less information and weigh more than others. Lonely Planet is my favorite, I will occasionally use Rough Guides and Footprint.

  • Hi Adam,

    I’m in the Lonely Planet feedback team (Talk2Us). I’ve looked into this and the hotel’s own website has this to say:

    Amongst many famous guests, there was one even more famous ‘almost’ guest. The great German poet, Goethe, once asked for lodgings at the ‘Goldener Hecht’, but his luck was out: all the rooms were occupied. Nowadays, the poet’s PA would have booked him a room on online.

    And the current listing in Germany 5th edition (Mar 2007) says:

    Hotel Goldener Hecht: Goethe almost slept here: the hotel would have kept the famous author had the clerk on duty not been quite so uppity. Ever since, guests at this family-run place have received a warm welcome. Some of the 13 rooms, each unique, have views of the Neckar.


    So yes, will some mistakes – and being overtaken by reality is inevitable, we do what we can with each new edition, and by having a good system for listening to feedback and incorporating that into our author-based research.


    Lonely Planet Traveller Feedback

  • For LP Germany, I’m using the Fourth Edition from May 2004, which on page 443, under the Alte Brücke section of Heidelberg states:

    Opposite the bridge, note the plaque on the Hotel Goldener Hechte<>/strong, which reads ‘Goethe almost slept here’. Apparently, a clerk turned down the author who, to the enormous consternation of the owner, took rooms elsewhere.

    I didn’t actually email in my complaint because I knew a fifth edition was out, even though I haven’t purchased a copy (the fourth still seems pretty accurate). Since I don’t have the fifth edition, I couldn’t check to see if the information is still in there.

    This mistake won’t keep me from using LP books–they’re in general the best, with some regional variations in quality and accuracy. This is the first, and only, mistake that has disappointed me, but only because I live in Weimar where there is a lot of Goethe Worshiping going on.