Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine Chinese tourists’ experience of Britain based on a conceptual model of tourist satisfaction and destination loyalty, and to identify key issues that tourism organisations could address to provide an excellent experience for Chinese tourists. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected in collaboration with a tour operator; and 275 valid responses were received. Partial Least Square Structural Equation Modelling was used for data analysis. Findings – The key destination attributes of Britain such as heritage sites, natural scenery and customer service provide an excellent experience for Chinese tourists. Other British destination attributes such as shopping facilities, food, accommodation, entertainment and night life are less impressive. Research limitations/implications – The sample was drawn from Chinese tourists visiting Britain on package tours, which limits the generalisation of results to other Chinese tourists and other European/Mediterranean destinations. Practical implications – There are two key challenges for British destination tourism managers: first, to maintain the current quality levels in the attributes that generate tourist satisfaction; and second, to concentrate on improving attributes with low performance ratings such as shopping, food and drink, accommodation, entertainment and night life. As the characteristics of Chinese tourists are culture-specific rather than destination-specific, tourism managers in other European destinations may find these recommendations useful too. Originality/value – This is one of the first studies to examine Chinese tourists’ experience of a European destination. The results reveal unique characteristics of Chinese tourist requirements, which provide useful implications for tourism organisations to adapt their service strategies to better cater to this growing group of travellers.