Wondering how you can find out why England did so well in this year’s World Cup? Then head to Staffordshire.
Set in 330 acres of rolling countryside close to Burton upon Trent, Hilton at St. George’s Park is home to the Football Association’s National Football Centre – with world class training facilities for the national team, who stay and play here on a regular basis.
It’s where England’s World Cup squad gathered for pre-tournament final training before flying off to Russia.
And you can follow in our footballing heroes footsteps by not only staying in the same hotel – a four star experience in its own right – but also tour the state-of-the-art training facilities with group tours on selected dates throughout the year.
The St. George’s Park tour offers the chance to go behind-the-scenes at The FA’s National Football Centre, home to all 28 England teams as they train ahead of international fixtures. See the elite outdoor pitches including the Wembley replica pitch, as well as the Sir Alf Ramsey indoor 3G pitch that has been built to a FIFA 2 star standard, as well as elite changing room, autograph wall and areas of the hotel where the teams stay. (Tour costs £9 per person http://www.thefa.com/about-football-association/st-georges-park/experiences).
The footballing theme is never far away here, and the hotel itself has cabinets of soccer memorabilia and giant action photos on the walls – while guests can kick off their day at the Centre Circle coffee lounge, or relax with family over lunch at the Cross Bar, which also offers imaginative cocktails and alcoholic refreshments.
On the edge of the National Forest, the hotel is also handy for visiting some of Staffordshire’s top attractions – including the home of Britain’s largest brewing collection, and a chance to enjoy some quiet reflection at a moving footballing memorial at the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance.
Just 10 miles from the hotel is the National Memorial Arboretumwhere among around 30,000 maturing trees and more than 300 significant memorials is one commemorating the famous 1914 Christmas truce when British and German soldiers played a game of festive football. To coincide with the World Cup, the Arboretum will be running special Football Legends Guided Walks taking visitors around memorials with links to the world of football (Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays until 31 July; £3 per person, under 5’s free; www.thenma.org.uk).
And back in Burton-on-Trent, raise a glass to England’s success at The National Brewery Centre,which celebrates the town’s brewing heritage. Known worldwide as the home of pale ale brewing, in its heyday during the late 19thcentury Burton on Trent brewed a quarter of all beer sold in Britain. (www.nationalbrewerycentre.co.uk).
If you need more adrenaline-fuelled celebration, Staffordshire’s popular theme parks, Alton Towers Resort and Drayton Manor Theme Park, are also close by.
Rooms at Hilton at St. George’s Park start from £80 per person (www.stgeorgespark.hilton.com).
For more information on Staffordshire: www.enjoystaffordshire.com