London

Selected to host the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020, home of five Premier League clubs and a national stadium, London is a soccer mecca second-to-none.

The stadium in question, Wembley, has been the stage for one World Cup, seven Champions League finals, one Euro and now another to follow.

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Café Kick/Peterjon Cresswell

Every weekend, thousands come from Scandinavia, Russia and beyond to catch the world’s top stars in action at North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham, and at 2017 Premier League champions Chelsea. West London also contains Championship teams Fulham, QPR and Brentford. Across the city in Stratford, West Ham are based at the London Stadium that staged the Olympic Games in 2012.

While Chelsea have put their stadium rebuilding plans on hold, Tottenham moved into their new one in 2019 after nearly two whole seasons at Wembley.

South of the river you’ll find Crystal Palace, plus local rivals Charlton and Millwall. Joining the Football League in 2016, AFC Wimbledon are the club formed by loyal local fans after Wimbledon FC, FA Cup winners in 1988, moved to Milton Keynes in 2004 to become the MK Dons. The revived Wombles play out of town at Kingstonian’s ground, Kingsmeadow, aka Cherry Red Records Stadium, near Norbiton station 25 minutes from Waterloo.

Café Kick/Peterjon Cresswell

Another side to have emerged from the non-league pyramid, Barnet, regained promotion to the Football League in 2015 only to fall out of it again in 2018. Dropping out in 2016 were Dagenham & Redbridge, who can link their ancestry back to leading amateur clubs from around East London and outskirts. A 3-2 defeat by fellow East Londoners Leyton Orient sent The Daggers into the fifth flight. Orient followed them a year later but climbed back up after winning the National League in 2019. Buoyant Sutton United, who enjoyed a memorable cup run in 2016-17, missed out in the play-offs in 2018 after a late thriller against Boreham Wood while currently resurgent Bromley are based at Hayes Lane, aka Westminster Waste, which sports a new stand added before the 2019-20 campaign. The ground lies a 15-minute walk from Bromley South station, 15 minutes by frequent train from Victoria.

The capital is also the seat of the Football Association, the stuffy body who ran the game from its foundation at the Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street in 1863 to the inaugural Football League in 1888. Drafting the rules of the game, the FA then introduced a challenge cup, first won in 1872 by Wanderers, a team of Old Harrovians originally based in Snaresbrook, near Epping Forest.

Ever since, London teams traditionally performed well in the glamorous cup competitions but poorly in the long, gruelling league championship. All this changed with the arrival of Arsène Wenger as coach of Arsenal and Roman Abramovich as owner of Chelsea.

Eight titles have come to the capital since 1998. During that time, Wembley, opened in 1923, was completely rebuilt and reopened, making it the showcase once again for the national game.

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London

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Arosfa Hotel: 51.522288, -0.132618
Gower House Hotel: 51.521645, -0.131863
The Cumberland Hotel: 51.513719, -0.158899
Hilton London Wembley: 51.557399, -0.282819
Ibis Hotel London Wembley: 51.555080, -0.285069
The Green Man Pub and Hotel: 51.557422, -0.289674
Premier Inn London Wembley Stadium: 51.562792, -0.281088
Copthorne & Millennium Hotels At Chelsea Football Club: 51.481057, -0.190315
The Rose & Crown: 51.561014, -0.083688
Famous 3 Kings: 51.490786, -0.206618
Rileys Haymarket: 51.507800, -0.131701
Sports Bar & Grill: 51.495623, -0.144126
Sports Bar & Grill Farringdon: 51.520439, -0.103395
Sports Bar & Grill Marylebone: 51.522268, -0.163728
Sports Bar and Grill Waterloo: 51.503755, -0.113677
Cafe Kick: 51.526023, -0.109160
Bar Kick: 51.526843, -0.078248
Bar Italia: 51.513410, -0.131276
Freemasons Arms: 51.514368, -0.122503
Kings Cross: 51.533548, -0.122368
St Pancras International: 51.531427, -0.126133
Euston Station: 51.529034, -0.134676
Marylebone Station: 51.522706, -0.164029
Victoria Station: 51.495210, -0.143898
Charing Cross Station: 51.508206, -0.125033
Waterloo Station: 51.503165, -0.112305
Paddington Station: 51.515498, -0.175884
Liverpool Street Station: 51.518752, -0.081437
Wembley Stadium: 51.556022, -0.279594
Arsenal/Emirates Stadium: 51.554888, -0.108438
Tottenham Hotspur/White Hart Lane: 51.603211, -0.066430
Chelsea/Stamford Bridge: 51.481623, -0.190973
Fulham/Craven Cottage: 51.474873, -0.221655
QPR/Loftus Road: 51.508956, -0.232129
Brentford/Griffin Park: 51.487841, -0.302633
West Ham/Upton Park: 51.531957, 0.039402
Leyton Orient/Brisbane Road: 51.560136, -0.012685
Crystal Palace/Selhurst Park: 51.398178, -0.085245
Millwall/The Den: 51.485902, -0.050971
Charlton Athletic/The Valley: 51.486504, 0.036757
Lillywhites: 51.509479, -0.134207
Puma Store: 51.512335, -0.138197
Adidas Original: 51.513717, -0.127781
Adidas: 51.513018, -0.124962
Holiday Inn London – Wembley: 51.555631, -0.285116
Hotel Novotel London Wembley: 51.561146, -0.278800
Premier Inn London Wembley Stadium Hotel: 51.562782, -0.281076
Wembley International Hotel: 51.559842, -0.283508
St George Hotel Wembley: 51.555399, -0.286567
Carlsberg Sports Bar: 51.510938, -0.130501
Jetlag: 51.522189, -0.140955
West Ham/London Stadium: 51.538710, -0.016604
Great Northern Hotel: 51.531295, -0.124803
Present London: 51.525963, -0.078112
AFC Wimbledon/Kingsmeadow: 51.405657, -0.281719
De Hems: 51.512072, -0.131235
Zeitgeist: 51.491375, -0.118165
The Arch: 51.553200, -0.285597
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London-Chelsea: 51.474116, -0.183844
Sutton United/Gander Green Lane: 51.367226, -0.204921

Bearings

Five main airports serve London. Heathrow is 27km (17 miles) west of town, connected by Tube (Piccadilly line, 45mins, £6 single, £3.10-£5.10 with an Oyster Card, £5) and Heathrow Express fast train to Paddington (15mins, £22-£25 single, £37 return, £5 supplement on board, cheapest advance single £5.50). Gatwick is 47km (30 miles) south of town, connected by Gatwick Express fast train to Victoria Station (30mins, £19.90 single, £17.80 online). Regular trains to Victoria are cheaper and just as quick.

Luton is 56km (35 miles) north of town, connected by rail to St Pancras (45mins, £16.40 single), which includes the shuttle bus (otherwise £2.10/£3.40 return) to Luton Airport Parkway station. Buses such as Green Line to Victoria are cheaper but slower. Stansted Airport is 48km (30 miles) north-east of town, connected by Stansted Express to Liverpool Street (45mins, £16.60 single, £28 return). A black cab from any of these airports to town should cost £60-£100, cheaper with a minicab.

Great Northern Hotel/Peterjon Cresswell

Alongside Docklands, London City Airport is the closest to town, 11km (seven miles) from the capital’s financial centre. It now serves cities as far as Rome, Prague and Berlin. It has its own stop on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) line, 17min from Stratford International and the London Stadium.

The hub for Eurostar services from Paris and Brussels is at St Pancras. The city’s main international bus station is Victoria, a 10min walk from the main train station of the same name.

London Transport consists of the Tube, buses, local and light rail, the network divided into zones. A central zones 1-2 day pass (Travelcard) is £12.30, capped at £6.60 for Oyster users. There are no more cash fares on buses, only payment by Oyster. Heathrow and London City airports are within the Oyster zone.

The Arch/Peterjon Cresswell

Bed

Visit London and information desks at major stations can help with booking. Staying cheaply in London is close to impossible, though there are affordable guesthouses of varying standards around Victoria, Euston and King’s Cross Stations.

If you’re arriving or departing by Eurostar, the Great Northern Hotel has recently reopened as a luxury boutique option that served St Pancras Station in the great steam era. For something more wallet-friendly, a row of cheap(ish) lodgings between Euston Station and the British Museum lines Gower Street, including the Arosfa and the Gower House Hotels.

For a little football history, then the Cumberland by Marble Arch is where the Magic Magyar team stayed in 1953, though this contemporary lodging looked far different then.

Hilton London Wembley/Simon Coppock

Around Wembley, the nearest and classiest option is the Hilton, with a pool, sauna and the panoramic Sky Bar 9 backdropped by the stadium itself. Also close, rising up alongside each other, are an ibis and a Holiday Inn. Around the other side of the stadium, halfway between Wembley Park tube station and beside Wembley Way, is a Novotel. Right by the tube station, is a large, gleaming Premier Inn. Also close are the Wembley International Hotel, with 165 value-conscious rooms and a sports bar, and, over the road, the business-friendly St George.

Near Wembley Stadium rail, The Arch is a 14-room hotel with a sports bar and Indian restaurant.

You can also try the en-suite rooms above the Green Man pub, up a steep little climb from the stadium.

While Stamford Bridge remains in operation, so do the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels at Chelsea Football Club, two adjoining four-stars offering dining and drinking at the 55 Restaurant and Frankie’s Sports Bar. Almost as close is the smart, 43-room La Reserve, a three-star with its own restaurant. It is not yet clear what will happen to these properties once work starts on the whole stadium site in 2019 – relocation is likely. The business-friendly DoubleTree by Hilton Chelsea is also convenient for Stamford Bridge, steps away from Imperial Wharf station.

With the dearth of hotels around the Emirates, some international visitors enjoy the boutique comfort, traditional pub atmosphere and roof terrace of the chic Rose & Crown, near Clissold Park, a 20-minute walk away.

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Bar Kick/Peterjon Cresswell

Beer

Literally hundreds of pubs show TV football – and scores around Soho and the West End. Replacing the Sports Café on Haymarket near Piccadilly Circus, Rileys is one of the largest of this nationwide chain, with 34 screens, four giant ones and 70 channels. Right on Leicester Square, surrounded by gambling action, the Carlsberg Sports Bar occupies a huge basement area of the Casino at the Empire, with large screens and Danish beer on offer to non-players too.

In the heart of Soho, calcio-centric Bar Italia is a perennial classic while convivial traditional pub the Freemasons Arms may not be the exact place where the FA convened in 1863 but displays documentation to that effect. Another classic Soho spot is De Hems, steeped in Dutch history, with Benelux beers and an orange glow when major tournaments are on.

Café Kick/Peterjon Cresswell

By the media quarter north of Soho, Jetlag is a tastefully conceived, two-floor sports bar, with its own cinema screen, nine other smaller screens, craft beers and cocktails.

Also heartily recommended are table-football bars the Café Kick in Exmouth Market and Bar Kick in Shoreditch, both outstanding, with retro, continental designer touches, decent food and a great atmosphere.

Elsewhere, the Famous 3 Kings by West Kensington Tube has a huge choice of screens while the chain of Sportsbar&grill have key sites at Marylebone (note Pelé’s signed shirt from ‘Escape to Victory’), Victoria, Farringdon, Victoria and Waterloo Stations.

For Bundesliga games and lashings of quality German beers, Zeitgeist between Vauxhall and Lambeth was once Charlie Chaplin’s local.

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Present London/Peterjon Cresswell

Shops

Shopping mecca London doesn’t lack for soccer boutiques. Traditional Lillywhites, in a prime location right on Piccadilly, has scores of kits on the second floor. On Carnaby Street there’s a large outlet for PUMA. The main branches for adidas are on nearby Foubert’s Place and at 415 Oxford Street, along which you’ll find a number of generic sportswear shops and stalls selling replica shirts.

For something a little more original, Present London is an independent boutique on Shoreditch High Street with a natty line in with-it men’s sportswear.


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