Ten years ago today, the world’s first internet café opened its doors in London’s West End. To mark the occasion, Yahoo! Mail has unveiled the best places around the globe to surf the net. The winners of the inaugural Yahoo! Mail Internet Café Awards include a unique laundromat / internet café in San Francisco, a sleek and modern internet café in the shadow of The Kremlin in Moscow, and an exceptional internet café which specifically caters to senior citizens in Swansea, Wales.
Over the summer, travellers sent in over 1000 nominations for internet cafes in 111 countries. The winners were then chosen by a judging panel, which included Eva Pascoe, who co-founded Café Cyberia, the world’s first internet café, in London’s Whitfield Street on 1 September 1994.
Other judges include James Bilefield, MD Communication Products at Yahoo! Europe, Mark Ellingham, the founder of Rough Guides; Anna Bacon from STA Travel and Lyn Hughes the editor and founder of Wanderlust magazine. The best nominations have been listed in a special Rough Guides e-book - The Rough Guide to the World’s Best Internet Cafes.
The cafes were entered into one of five categories: Most Remote Internet Café, Most Unusual, Most Stylish, Best UK and a special Life Saver category (an internet café that was there in a traveller’s hour of need).
The winners included:
? Best UK Internet Café - Café Curve, Brighton (curvebrighton.co.uk), situated in the heart of the trendy North Laines, Brighton - ‘A must for anyone who likes style, comfort, typing and keeping in touch.’
? ‘Life Saver’ - Casa Del Corrigedor, Puno, Peru (casadelcorregidor.com.pe), nominated for providing tourists with vital, up-to-date information about the situation in neighbouring Bolivia during the political unrest of October 2003
? Most Stylish Internet Café - The Phlegmatic Dog, Moscow (phlegmaticdog.com), a sleek café and club on Red Square, in the shadow of the Kremlin - ‘The interior is a unique combination of comfort and hi-tech.’
? Most Unusual Internet Café - Brain Wash, San Francisco (brainwash.com), a laundromat and internet café all in one! ‘Brain Wash is at the height of internet café*censored*laundromat cool.’
? Most Remote Internet Café - Télé Centre Polyvalent (TCP), Timbuktu, Mali, a centre funded by international organisations to provide vital services for the local community - ‘Maybe the last place on earth to find an email café?’
? Finally the judges decided to give a special award to Ty Waunarlwydd, Swansea, Wales, an internet café situated inside a residential home and day care centre. ‘It proves that age isn’t a barrier to joining the www revolution.’
According to James Bilefield, MD, Communication Products Yahoo! Europe, “The internet café concept is as fresh and as relevant today as it was ten years ago.”
“It’s now second nature for travellers and people on the move to use the local internet café to keep up with the news from home and to tell friends and family where they have been. However many internet cafes also provide an essential service for the local community, and in the developing world, a place where people can learn from the internet and communicate with others around the globe.”
According to Eva Pascoe, “Despite the fact that home and work internet access is now commonplace, internet cafes fulfil the same role as they did ten years ago. They are the post offices of the wired generation.”
“What surprised me was how many of the cafes nominated had been set up so recently and how advanced they were in terms of technical set up. I only wish I had been able to do the same with Café Cyberia all those years ago!”