Despite opening just days ago, the Marble Arch Mound on the edge of Oxford Street has already earned itself the title of London’s worst-ever tourist attraction.
The $A3.1 million initiative promised so much when it was first announced – an artificial rolling hill of grass with lush trees shooting out the side, offering a one-of-a-kind view from the top of parts of the English capital that have never been seen before.
From 25 metres up, visitors would be able to marvel down at Oxford Street and beyond, and take in the magical Hyde Park, on top a natural wonder.
Designed by Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, the Marble Arch Mound project had created intense buzz in the famed Oxford Street district.
But it has sensationally failed to live up to expectations in an almost comical way.
Excited visitors arrived to find little more than a mound covered in patchy turf with some fledgling saplings sagging from it.
On top, that stunning vista is dominated by a construction site and streets crowded with rubbish bins.
From there, visitors were told they’d descend into the mound’s hollowed-out interior to find a high-end cafe, a gift shop and an art exhibition space.
Instead, people are greeted with an almost entirely empty space that seems to be used for storage.
A mooted light show art piece also hasn’t eventuated, although a number of cables can be found around the site.
It costs £8 ($A15) for a ticket, so with that on offer, it’s no wonder people are quite upset by the let-down.
Dan Barker was one of a number of Londoners to share his thoughts about the attraction, saying on Twitter: “I think they oversold it a bit and they should update the website to downgrade expectations.”
But he added that he still enjoyed it – with a hefty caveat attached.
“I enjoyed it … as you might enjoy a bad statue of (Cristiano) Ronaldo or a car park Santa‘s Grotto with dogs pretending to be reindeer than as a dazzling spectacle.”
According to local reports, operators have been inundated with demands for refunds from disappointed visitors.
Westminster Council, in charge of the project, issued a statement conceding “elements of the Marble Arch Mount aren’t yet ready for visitors” and the landscaping will require “more time to bed in and grow”.
The inside food hall will come, the council insisted, as will the glittering light show.
Those disappointed with the experience can get a refund and a free ticket to return when the site is “at its best”, the council added.
The project was part of broader initiatives to encourage Londoners to venture out again in the aftermath of the covid pandemic.