Manchester’s Burj Khalifa comes in the shape of a giant glass and steel structure called Old Trafford stadium, probably the most famous football stadium on earth. It has been the stage for some of the greatest matches in history played by legends from George Best to David Beckham. In fact, it’s safe to say that Manchester United is as widely known internationally as its own city, Manchester, in England. Fans of the game travel far and wide for a taste of an authentic experience; here’s how Vogue Man spent a footie-themed weekend.
Arriving in Manchester
The city is served by international flights via Manchester Airport, and has excellent train links to London via Manchester Piccadilly station. Journey time between London and Manchester is just over two hours. We definitely recommend downloading the Trainline app where you can pre-book, avoid station queues and use tickets on your smart phone. Mancunians are a friendly bunch too, more than willing to offer help, recommendations and directions upon our arrival. You’ll have a soccer squad in no time.
Checking into Hotel Football
Hotel Football was created by the famous ‘Class of ’92’ squad, including Manchester United superstars Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Philip Neville. It sits right by Old Trafford Stadium (get a room facing it for a beautifully lit view). Stepping inside was like entering a football theme park sleepover – football themes are ingrained throughout from wallpaper to art pieces. There are nods to the players’ achievements including a pair of Giggs’s boots from the 2008 Champions League Final and on match days, hotel staff change their uniforms to red ‘Class of ‘92’ T-shirts and join in on festive cheer. Beds are large and comfy with football artwork and sign posters adorning the 133 rooms, and we noticed a complimentary mini bar filled with British retro goodies (if you haven’t tried a ‘Drumstick Lolly’, you’re in for a treat). Could football fans want anything more?
Tucking in with supporters
Within Hotel Football, you’ll find Café Football downstairs, themed to, you guessed it, football. The restaurant is inspired by good food that brings fans together whether at the stands or at home in front of the TV. Menus are sectioned into footballing terms and include player favorites such as Giggsy’s sausages and mash, Scholesy’s steak and chips, super fit ‘Eat Like A Pro’ options like grilled chicken and sweet potato salad. The relaxed space is a chance to mingle before or after a game, as well as allowing those without tickets to immerse themselves via watching it on venue screens.
Old Trafford officially opened on 19 February 1910 with a match between Manchester and Liverpool. Today it welcomes around 75,000 spectators and tickets can be purchased on manutd.com. Like any sporting event, expect swarms of devotees clad in official kit (there is a megastore on site if you forget to bring yours). You can also up the ante on match days with Hotel Football’s Stadium Suite hospitality experience, which includes pre and post-match hospitality in the prestigious Stadium Suite, a three-course meal, a Q&A with a Manchester United legend (we were lucky enough to join in on one with Wes Brown), official programme, and much more.
More to explore
What else can a football fanatic do when the games are over? On the grounds you can book an official stadium tour, where you’ll get to sit in your favourite player’s seat in the dressing room, the manager’s seat in the dugout, as well as walk through the players’ tunnel towards the pitch. Guests are guided through the press room where the manager makes his statement after each home game, and the VIP room that has hosted famous names over the years. This is a must for super fans, but can equally be enjoyed by their ‘plus ones’ alike. The museum is surprisingly fascinating too.
For more information visit hotelfootball.com