Plans for an artificial and temporary 25m hill in Marble Arch were first unveiled in February in response to Oxford Street and the wider West End district of London being battered by three lockdowns.
Westminster City Council said the climbable artificial hill was part of a wider £150 million revamp of Oxford Street, and expected the attraction to be visited by up to 200,000 people.
Unfortunately, since the new £2 million attraction opened last week, tourists complained they did not see the “views across central London and Hyde Park” from the landscape that was promised.
Instead, visitors came across sights of rubble, building works and scaffolding from the platform covered in brown turf. Some even took to social media to complain – often with amusing outcomes.
The Marble Arch hill was constructed on a large mound of soil to create a platform that provides views over Hyde Park and the West End. It opened earlier this week and will operate for six months.
Visitors, business owners and even the London Philharmonia orchestra variously branded it a “hill of rubble”, “the worst attraction in London”, and similar to “seven minutes of work on Minecraft“.
Following the disastrous launch, Westminster City Council said visitors during the first week would receive a refund and a free second visit.
Here are some of the funny social media reactions, nonetheless:
Marble arch mound is the worst thing I've ever done in London pic.twitter.com/njmpOFxrbf
— Emma Wright (@emmabethwright) July 27, 2021
Marble Arch mound has real PSOne graphics energy. pic.twitter.com/lhKjlcFsBt
— Matthew Highton (@MattHighton) July 27, 2021
I actually love the Marble Arch mound. pic.twitter.com/E2RPAwjfDM
— Ben (@velzzb) July 27, 2021
for the entrance fee you could just take the tube to Primrose Hill or Hampstead Heath and have much better views https://t.co/Ak7eHFzTpW
— Simon Brackenborough (@sbrackenborough) July 27, 2021
what has better graphics, the Marble Arch mound or Stone Hill from Spyro 1? pic.twitter.com/6dYj58qLim
— Joel (@HiJoelSmith) July 27, 2021
Anyone that pays £4.50 to climb an artificial hill at Marble Arch needs their head examined. There are actual hills, with protected views, less than 15 minutes on the tube from there. Like Primrose.
— Jarv (@Jarv_1978) July 28, 2021
I hadn't heard about the Fake Hill in Marble Arch until a couple of days ago and now I'm convinced it's some kind of art installation about uselessness.
— Jon Dryden Taylor (@jondrytay) July 27, 2021
was the Marble Arch bin hill built for old blokes to run up and down to raise money for the NHS pic.twitter.com/7bk1FpezO1
— Josh Barrie (@joshbythesea) July 27, 2021
I went to the Marble Arch Mound today. It cost £2 million to build, and today was launch day, but it was still quite quiet.
Here is a short thread with info.
First, the original plan drawings and the marketing description do not quite match reality. pic.twitter.com/Km4YFbxySm
— dan barker (@danbarker) July 26, 2021
Once the artificial hill is ready to be taken down, the trees and landscape used to build it will be relocated to other parts of the district and local community.
Prior to Covid-19, the West End’s popularity attracted millions of tourists to Oxford Street and surrounds. So it’s hardly surprising that the district suffered from a colossal drop in footfall since the start of the pandemic.
Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan said in February that the Marble Arch hill was an attempt to to focus attention on the area, which she said has been increasingly overlooked as a central London destination.
With the new hill aimed at luring shoppers back to Oxford Street and surrounds as restrictions continue to ease, council is also expected to carry out interim improvements on what his the UK’s busiest high street – such as wider pedestrian spaces, more trees and greenery along streets, and new lighting.
Westminster Council said tickets were no longer on sale for this week and can only be booked from the beginning of August. Ticket holders can apply for a refund.