Walking, iPods and London trivia are the holy trinity as far as Londonist is concerned. The three have now reached a state of conjoined perfection in Soundmap.
Sites offering guided walks via media players are two a penny. We reviewed a whole troupe of them last year. Some are well written but lack production, others are polished but empty. Soundmap gets everything right.
The three walks currently on the site cover Soho, Camden and King’s Road. Not for them some wheezy-voiced armchair host, reading out poorly disguised extracts from the London Encyclopaedia. Nope, they’ve got Robert Elms from BBC Radio London (and Covent Garden lifts). A man more Londony than the Artful Dodger‘s Oyster card. Elms guides us through the streets of Camden, his home manor, with avuncular geniality. This is Londonist’s manor too, and despite our own passion for local stories and trivia, Elms taught us more than a thing or two.
Similarly, the Soho route is narrated by Irma Kurtz - former best friend of late drunken legend Jeffrey Bernard. The third walk is guided by Max Décharné, the man who literally wrote the book on the King’s Road. These are people who are passionate about their areas. It makes such a difference.
At £7.99 per walk, the service might seem pricey, but reflects a craftsmanship and quality that far surpasses the competition. Whether it can succeed as a business remains to be seen, but Soundmap certainly raises the bar for audio tour sites.