The Battle for Room Service

Mark Lawson

13 February 2014
304 pages


Beginning in Timaru, reputedly the most activity-challenged place in New Zealand, Lawson travels through Australia and Canada, where he learns to be especially wary of any place named after Queen Victoria or her close relatives. After dropping in on Normal, Illinois and Dead Horse, Alaska – place names in the quiet world are sometimes disarmingly honest – he travels through soothing Switzerland, Milton Keynes, and Belgium, before his journey’s end in EuroDisney, Expo ’92, and Center Parcs: territories of Somewhere, the new tourist continent where, in a reversal of the usual rules of travel, countries come to you.
‘A tour de force of wit, vitriol, information, and perception, and far superior to most travel books’ Sunday Express
‘A fine journalist, he writes with fluency and wit. Hilarious set-pieces include the occasion when he is mistaken for Anita Brookner by a Korean long-pipe salesman. His energetic relish of the language can remind one of Clive James’ Nicholas Shakespeare, Telegraph
‘The book is consistently hilarious; Lawson makes you laugh, a lot, every couple of minutes’ Spectator