Park the car, dump the bags, have a few drinks after the game – and relax!
With an entire FA Cup round taking place in midweek next week, games will be finishing way past bedtime and trains are still beyond a joke. Now seems as good a time as any to recommend the best hotels in England for football fans, those within a short walk of the ground and perhaps with a bar thrown in as well.
There’s only one actual soccer-themed lodging, the Hotel Football, owned by the Class of ’92, right alongside Old Trafford (although there’s also a cheaper Premier Inn across the street). The rooftop football pitch is a nice touch.
The hotel is only one of a handful to offer match packages even though some are so close to the stadium, they need to draw the curtains so that guests don’t get a free view of the action below. Norwich is a prime example.
Those heading down to Wembley for Sunday’s League Cup final have plenty of choice for overnight stays to avoid the nightmare that is getting away from the place that same night. Here we recommend the very nearest one.
1 Hotel Football
It ain’t easy running a football-themed hotel – just ask Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, the former Manchester United stars who opened this upscale accommodation overlooking their former place of work in 2015.
Losing bucketloads of money during the pandemic shortly after a partnership was announced with the prestigious Marriott chain, the 133-room hotel is looking to recoup its losses, perhaps helped along by United’s current run in the Europa League. Match packages (starting at £859) include tickets, pre- and post-match hospitality, a Q&A session with a United legend and a three-course dinner.
All guests can call up 24-hour room service, tune into ESPN among the TV channels and take advantage of the Cafe Football on the ground floor – it’s best to reserve on match days, all the same. All is topped off with a rooftop five-a-side pitch. Hotel Football, 99 Sir Matt Busby Way, Manchester M16 0SZ
2 Hilton London Wembley
The glass-fronted, four-star Hilton could hardly be closer to Wembley Stadium, only steps away. Guest rooms are comfortably functional rather than luxurious, albeit with Sky Sports and BT Sport on your 37-inch HDTV.
There’s always a buzz around the Icons Bar on big-match days, when the Association Restaurant lays on a buffet rather than offer à la carte. If you get here early enough to stake your seat, you can take in the whole build-up to the game from the panoramic rooftop Sky Bar 9.
The pool, sauna, steam room and fitness centre might come in handy the next morning – it’s noon check-out, by the way. Hilton London Wembley, Lakeside Way, Wembley Park, Wembley HA9 0BU
3 Holiday Inn Express Leicester City
Free parking and 2pm check-ins suit the Saturday-afternoon crowd at this handy three-star chain, slap next door to the King Power Stadium in Leicester. You can choose a canal or stadium view and, though this is only a three-star, you get a full breakfast with your night’s stay.
The 110 rooms just get busier on game days, there are no match packages as such, and the popular pre-match Blues Bar & Grill is currently closed.
Given the 2019 renovation of all rooms and public areas, everything still feels quite fresh, and late check-out is available for a fee. Holiday Inn Express Leicester City, Filbert Way, Leicester LE2 7FL
4 Holiday Inn Express, Stoke on Trent
Separated from Stoke’s Bet365 (aka Britannia) Stadium by a main road and the Harvester restaurant next door, this mid-range Holiday Inn is a handy option in a town hardly blessed with stellar hotel stock.
There’s complimentary tea and coffee in the guest rooms, plus a 32-inch flat-screen TV and large-sized bath towels, always a bonus.
Parking for guests is £5, handy as you’ll need to head into town for anything by way of shops or restaurants, there’s nothing in the vicinity here apart from the aforementioned Harvester. Holiday Inn Express, Stoke on Trent, Trentham Lakes, Sir Stanley Matthews Way, Stoke-on-Trent S14 4EG
5 Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland
Overshadowed by the Stadium of Light, this Hilton Garden Inn is a popular pre- and post-match destination, fans gathering at the Karbon grill bar and hotel guests taking advantage of the free parking.
Rooms go for around £70-£80 on quieter weekdays, £140 at weekends, so it’s not a cheap option but certainly convenient.
The gym is 24-hour and Roker Beach is two miles away if you’re up for a seaside jog. Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland, Vaux Brewery Way, Sunderland SR5 1SN
6 Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle
Just across from St James’ Park, close to the metro station, the Sandman takes its Geordie hospitality seriously – the building was once home to the Scottish & Newcastle Brewery. Newkie Brown has since been replaced by gourmet cocktails in the Shark Club Gastro Bar and there’s a buzz about the place for the first time since the Magpies were flying around Europe in the early 2000s.
It doesn’t do match packages as such, but weekend deals such as Stayca-toon (!) and the wonderfully cheeky Drink, Dream & Linger Longer, encouraging you to sink free cocktails at the Shark, and enjoy a late breakfast and noon check-out with… well, that’s up to you.
Rooms are currently inexpensive on quieter days, the Signature option overlooking the stadium, with a king-sized bed, microwave and rain shower going for £72, although that goes up to £150+ on Saturday nights. Parking is nearby at £13/24 hours. Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle, Gallowgate, Newcastle NE1 4SD
7 Holiday Inn Norwich City
One of first hotels in England to be set up beside a football stadium, this friendly Holiday Inn overlooks Carrow Road, which means it’s a short stroll from Norwich station.
A handful of rooms enjoy full views of the pitch, although screens are pulled across the windows as soon as kick-off starts. If you’re bringing the family to see the match, however, you can take advantage of the Kids Stay and Eat Free offer. You can also book a pre-match meal in the restaurant. TV sport is shown in the lounge bar.
For those here on business, there’s same-day dry cleaning, even a laundry valet, plus a large meeting room with available catering. Off-site parking only. Holiday Inn Norwich City, Carrow Road, Norwich NR1 1HU
8 DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes
Integral to the Stadium MK, this branch of DoubleTree offers free parking and a Marco Pierre White steakhouse. The rooms overlooking the Desso GrassMaster surface are advertised as being ‘with daytime pitch view’, which means that guests are trusted to pull the curtains over the windows from kick-off.
There are inspections but otherwise the system is far more friendly than the draconian one in place at a fellow DoubleTree beside the stadium in Coventry (see below).
As well as the aforementioned MPW steakhouse, there’s the Pitchside Restaurant, sadly only open for breakfast, the Red Dot Bar operating until midnight, and the Terrace Bar currently undergoing renovation. A gym and room service complete the picture. DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes, Stadium Way W, Milton Keynes MK1 1ST
9 doubletree by hilton coventry
Certain King, Queen and Twin guest rooms have pitch views at this upper mid-range hotel. On weekend match days, however, this means that guests must check out of these rooms by 9am and can only check in after 7pm, which seems pretty draconian. When there’s an evening game, it’s 10pm check-in.
This is also another stadium hotel that doesn’t do match packages. Paid-for parking (£8) might come in handy, though. Also on the plus side is The Anecdote, a bar crying out to be described as ‘funky’, offering craft beers, street food and a giant table football game. Plenty of screens, too, of course.
As chain-hotel bars go, it’s at least original and full marks to DoubleTree, Hilton’s fastest-growing brand, for going with whichever marketing guru dreamt it up. Usually DoubleTrees are found at exotic beach resorts so presumably someone was landed with the brief to big up Coventry. There’s a gym, too, room service and a casino. DoubleTree by Hilton Coventry Building Society Arena, Judds Lane, Coventry CV6 6AQ
10 voco reading
The former Madejski Hotel and the formerly named Madejski Stadium is actually part of Reading’s ground, though caters more to business visitors to this commercial hub along the M4 corridor – its address is a junction number.
This is the target group for the IHG group’s voco portfolio, in any case, which means that guests are subjected to concepts such as ‘Me Time’, ie comfy bedding and nice smellies in the bathroom.
Football fans staying here can take advantage of the free parking, in-house Le Cafe is open for pre-match dining, pool and gym. Even though the Select Car Leasing Stadium (snappy, eh?) is alongside, there are no match packages, but Reading season-ticket holders are offered special weekend B&B rates, even on non-match days. Voco Reading, Select Car Leasing Stadium Junction 11, Reading RG2 0FL
10+1 Blackpool FC Stadium Hotel
The fact that this attractive four-star hotel is part of Bloomfield Road properties accentuates in the eternally popular seaside resort of Blackpool just how spectacularly the controversial previous owners, the Oyston family, screwed up.
These days, it’s in the upscale Radisson chain, on-site restaurant The Corner Flag pretty decent, spa treatments provided in state-of-the-art therapy rooms. Couples on a romantic football break can even change together.
Of the 66 rooms, superior ones have full views of the Blackpool pitch, standard also offering in-room tea and coffee. You’re also a short walk from sea, the Blackpool Promenade and Tramway, and Central Pier. Blackpool FC Stadium Hotel, Seasiders Way, Bloomfield Road, Blackpool FY1 6JJ