Travel: Hotel Football
As widespread glamping makes festival-going increasingly luxurious, so too comfort levels are rising for football fans.
Manchester’s recently-opened, four-star, 133-room Hotel Football exemplifies this trend, but while all executive and half of standard rooms overlook Manchester United FC’s Old Trafford stadium 50 yards away, a stay here will appeal to football fans in general and art collectors just as much as United devotees.
Owners Ryan Giggs, Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt have taken five years to create an impressive building bristling with clever footballing touches.
Upon arrival in my executive room I find a mini football, sweets (in a paper bag!) chocolate footballs, squad number toiletries and a self-effacing video featuring the five when turning on my television.
Inclusivity is all, with tea mugs in red and blue, so Red Devils and Citizens are equally welcome here, as are Robins and Gas Heads, Kopites and Toffees and Blades and Owls for that matter.
My breathtaking views take in the ground’s East Stand and Lancashire CCC and beyond in one direction and Salford Quays, home to the BBC, Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry Centre in the other.
All rooms feature output from Salford University’s art & design undergraduates (which can be bought) and while waiting for the lift I notice the corridor’s wallpaper features Panini sticker images. QPR’s Bobby Zamora is quickly spotted, and with a Rovers reference secured I seek a City equaliser.
I’m then shown the top-floor five-a-side pitch (scoring from my only penalty,) hospitality suites and the basement Old Trafford Supporters Club, the building’s only part aimed specifically at Manchester United fans. An Andy Cole mural levels for City.
My tour ends at the Café Football restaurant where dinner jackets and eveningwear are as welcome as replica kit. Epic Manc tunes include Blue Monday, WFL and I am the Resurrection while a pint of Carlsberg for £3.50, burgers from £9.95-£14.95 and pizzas £9.95-£13.95 bring admirable affordability.
When victory is to be toasted, cocktails, a 24-strong wine list and three Veuve Clicquot offerings await, as do the bars of Deansgate, a five-minute taxi ride away, for those partying on.
I turn in, waking before my alarm (proof of a wonderfully restful sleep, thanks to the Hypnos bed) and soon United fans start arriving at the concourse below, to take photographs and shop. It feels like Saturday morning at Glastonbury, with Old Trafford the Main Stage amid a sprawling site and buzzing, expectant vibe.
At Café Football, my full breakfast’s toast is on greaseproof paper incorporating the wallpaper’s Panini images. Closer inspection brings Brian Tinnion in Robins kit into view, a late City winner to end my city break.