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The UK’s Most Aesthetic City

The country’s least and most aesthetic locations

A city’s aesthetics give a location its character. Whether it’s cutting-edge industrial design in a city at the forefront of technological innovation, or well-preserved features like mosaic tiles with a rich history that imparts a timeless feel, each city has its unique fingerprint shaped by its residents.

A beautiful city can attract new residents too, helping shape its character. People in beautiful cities tend to socialise more and feel happier if the streets, buildings and public spaces are attractive and inviting.

So, which city can be crowned the most aesthetic in the UK and which is the worst? We’ve taken a look at boutique hotels, listed buildings and monuments, interior designers, architects and social media data to find out.

The UK’s most aesthetic cities

1.Oxford                                    Aesthetic City Score: 8.39/10

The city of dreaming spires takes the top spot in our index scoring 8.39/10 thanks to its high number of listed buildings and monuments per square kilometre, taking third for the factor. The historic city also has a relatively high proportion of interior designers per 100,000 people and ranks fifth for its proportion of architects too.

2. Worcester                              Aesthetic City Score: 7.98/10

Taking second place is Worcester with a score of 7.98/10. This West Midlands city is famous for its cathedral and ranks in the top ten for three factors, and the top 20 for architects per 100,000 people too.

3. Exeter                                     Aesthetic City Score: 7.92/10

Up next is the Devonshire city of Exeter. The city takes third place thanks to its scoring in the top ten for three factors, with its highest rank being for its proportion of listed buildings and monuments. It also ranks in the top twenty for its proportion of interior designers.

The UK’s least aesthetic cities

1.Derry                                      Aesthetic City Score: 1.79/10

This Northern Irish city lands itself with the unfortunate title of the least aesthetic city. It takes last place in our index with a score of 1.79/10 thanks to it having the lowest proportion of interior designers on the list, who play an important role in creating and curating a city’s aesthetic. It’s also in the bottom three for its proportion of both architects, listed buildings and monuments.

2. Durham                                  Aesthetic City Score: 1.91/10

Despite its cathedral achieving UNESCO world heritage status, Durham ranks as the second least aesthetic city in the index scoring only 1.91/10. This Northeastern city has the lowest proportion of architects and ranks second-last for its proportion of interior designers, listed buildings and monuments too.

3. Sheffield                                 Aesthetic City Score: 2.21/10

The Yorkshire city of Sheffield is up next, scoring a meagre 2.21/10 for its aesthetics. It ranks in the bottom ten for two factors: interior designers and architects per 100,000 people. It also has one of the lowest proportions of listed buildings and monuments, ranking third to last.

The UK’s chicest cities

1.Canterbury                                                    Percentage of boutique hotels 41.67%

Canterbury, a UNESCO world heritage site in the county of Kent, famous for its cathedral is one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations. So it is no surprise that it has the highest proportion of boutique hotels to cater to tourists looking for unique places to stay. 

 2. Lancaster, Chelmsford and Winchester    Percentage of boutique hotels 40.00%

Three cities share second place, only marginally missing out on the top spot. The cities of Lancaster, Chelmsford and Winchester all have a boutique hotel proportion of 40%. Most of the boutique hotels in these cities are in converted historic and listed buildings, ranging from country houses to historic pubs and even a convent, preserving the unique history and charm of their locations.

3. Lincoln                                                           Percentage of boutique hotels 38.46%

The county town of Lincolnshire takes third place for this factor with just under 40% of its hotels being boutique. These boutique hotels include converted listed buildings updated with cutting-edge design.

The cities with the most listed buildings and monuments

 1.Edinburgh                                                                  35 per square kilometre

The Scottish capital is packed with historic buildings and monuments, averaging a whopping 35 per square kilometre. This is no surprise as the city has a well-preserved architectural history and has been home to many celebrated Scottish historical figures.

2. Norwich                                                                     28 per square kilometre

Up next is Norwich, the largest city in East Anglia with 28 listed buildings and monuments per square kilometre. The city claims to be the most complete medieval city in the UK and is home to a host of ancient buildings as well as an arcade built in the Art Nouveau style.

3. Oxford                                                                        26 per square kilometre

Taking third place is Oxford, with the city playing host to 1,213 listed buildings and monuments, many of them built by the world-famous university founded there in 1096. Taking into account the surface area of the city, Oxford has 26 listed buildings and monuments per square kilometre.

The cities with the most interior designers

1. St Albans                                                                   270.6 per 100,000 people

Interior design is a key element of a city’s aesthetic as it demonstrates how willing a city is to stay on the cutting edge of design. A co-working space in the city was also recently nominated for an interior design award at the London Design Awards. St Albans takes first place for this factor with 270.6 interior designers per 100,000 of its population.

2. Salford                                                                       130.2 per 100,000 people

Interior designers play an important role in creating and curating a city’s aesthetic. Salford University offers courses in interior design and is one of the top universities in the north for the subject. The city takes second place with 130.2 interior designers per 100,000 people in the city.

3. Manchester                                                                61.4 per 100,000 people

In third place is Salford’s neighbour, Manchester with 61.4 interior designers per 100,000 people. The city is a hub for innovative interior designers and regularly hosts home shows for interior designers to attract new clients.

The cities with the most architects

 1. St Albans                                                                   265.9 per 100,000 people

Architectural style shapes a city’s aesthetic, giving each location a distinct character and nobody knows this more than the citizens of St. Albans! The city has 265.9 architects per 100,000 people landing the city in first place. The city is one of the best places for architects as more than 70 per cent of planning applications are accepted by the local council.

2. Salford                                                                       157.2 per 100,000 people

Architecture is key in representing how a city sees itself, from avant-garde design to more classic styles, it reflects the unique culture of each location. Architects are in high demand in Salford, with the city recently greenlighting the construction of several high-rise apartment blocks this year. The city has 157.2 architects per 100,000 people.

3. Cambridge                                                                 78.4 per 100,000 people

Taking third place is Cambridge, with 78.4 architects per 100,000 people. Architects have an impact not just on the aesthetics of a city but by shaping urban spaces they can improve a city’s well-being through clever and sustainable design too. Architects in Cambridge are some of the most innovative, with its library in the city centre shortlisted for this year’s Stirling Prize for best new building.

The most aesthetic cities on TikTok

1. London                                                                       39.5 billion views

The capital takes first place as the most picturesque city on Tiktok. Packed with iconic landmarks, such as the London Eye and Buckingham Palace, the architecture in this city has something to suit every taste, earning a whopping 39.5 billion TikTok views.

2. Liverpool                                                                    32.2 billion views.

As well as being a cultural and artistic hub in the North West, Liverpool is also one of the UK’s most picturesque cities on Tiktok. Renowned for the Royal Albert Docks, super cosy cafes, museums and a grade 1 listed park, the city has earned a huge 32.2 billion views on TikTok.

3. Manchester                                                                5.7 billion views

Taking third place is another city in the UK’s North West. Known for being a textile powerhouse in the 18th century and for their infamous Salford Quays, Manchester has 5.7 billion views on TikTok. Today, the city features a  mix of both cutting-edge skyscrapers and well-preserved Victorian architecture too.

The most aesthetic cities on Instagram

1.London                                                           158,196,366 Instagram posts

It comes as no surprise the capital takes first place as the most aesthetic city on the platform. With its diverse influences, this multicultural city has something for everyone. With quirky interior design shops selling Moroccan tiles to historic buildings once home to some of the country’s famous historical figures, London never fails to disappoint.

2.Manchester                                                    18,048,919 Instagram posts

Taking second place is Manchester. The city has over 18 million Instagram posts, thanks to its iconic Victorian architecture stemming from its legacy as one of the first industrial cities, and the wide array of more modern architectural styles too.

3. Liverpool                                                        16,589,232 Instagram posts

Up next is Liverpool with just under 16.6 million posts using the hashtag, taking it to third place. The home of the Beatles is renowned for its industrial aesthetic thanks to the many Victorian buildings dotted throughout the city, many of which are listed, granting it UNESCO world heritage status.


Beginning with a list of UK cities, we analysed each one on the following factors. We then gave each city a normalised score out of ten for each of the factors, before taking an average across each of these scores to reach our final overall score out of ten.

Percentage of boutique hotels: The total number of hotels in each city divided by the total number of boutique hotels according to Tripadvisor.

Listed buildings and monuments per sq km: The total number of listed buildings, scheduled monuments, protected wreck sites, parks and gardens, battlefields, world heritage sites, and buildings with a certificate of immunity or a building preservation notice, according to Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland.

Data for listed buildings in Northern Ireland was taken from The Department for Communities and for monuments taken from The Department for Communities Sites and Monuments Record.

Interior Designers per 100,000 people: The total number of interior designers within a 10-mile radius of the city centre according to houzz per 100,000 of the population.

Architects per 100,000 people: The total number of architects within a 10-mile radius of the city centre according to houzz per 100,000 of the population.

TikTok views: The total number of views for each city using the hashtag #[city] and is correct as of [01/08/2022].

Instagram posts: The total number of posts for each city using the hashtag #[city] and is correct as of [01/08/2022].

Population figures: The population of each Local Authority area according to The ONS.

Square kilometres: The total area of each Local Authority area according to The ONS.