I think it’s safe to say that every fan has their own pre-match build up and rituals. Mine involves getting to the Nags Head around 12 until about half an hour before kick-off, where I then have to race down Deansgate, then onto Chester Road before getting to the ground just in time for kick off. After the game it’s then the hustle and bustle of getting back to the city centre on the bus or Metrolink with the rest of the crowd.
On Saturday however, this ritual was interrupted by a visit to Hotel Football who as part of their new match day experience have updated their Stadium Suite Hospitality Package to be ‘A Game of Two Halves’, providing a unique match day to remember.
This prestigious package welcomes guests to the suite with a champagne reception, four course meal, quiz and a Q&A with a Manchester United footballing legend. As the hospitality started from 12pm I decided to get there early and have a pint in the impressive Cafe Football. As a busy hub of arriving and waiting fans from all over the world, you can experience the buzz of match day whilst watching the early Premiership kick off and admiring the magnificent views of Old Trafford – The Theatre of Dreams.
On the short walk to the Stadium Suite, you are treated to a collection of silhouettes of famous footballing legends at iconic moments in the history of the game adorning the walls. It’s truly great to see such attention to detail and devotion to the game. Upon entering the suite, one of the first things you’ll notice is the tables are decorated with a football theme and the staff are extremely helpful, keeping the drinks flowing throughout the day.
The quiz was typically great fun and a good way of showing off your football knowledge. Questions are on the table already when you arrive, so once you’ve decided a team name you can get straight in to it.
In terms of food, the menu on the day included delicious meat platters on arrival, alongside a selection of dishes to choose from for your main meal. Spiced duck breast, soy marinated tuna, beef fillet and cod are all there, as well as a delicious salt caramel tart that I had for dessert.
About an hour and half before kick off the compere announces the special guest who he then interviews about their career and then answers questions from the fans, on this occasion it was the legendary Ryan Giggs. The Q&A is a fantastic way to get to know your favourite players better, and Giggsy was absolutely loving the experience and questions. I was lucky enough to discover if he could relive one match from his career it would be the 4-3 win against City at Old Trafford in 2009, and he found Gerrard to be a much harder opponent than Lampard due to the fact that “he got up and down the pitch more”. Giggs was the perfect gentleman and he truly seemed to relish the experience, providing the fans in the audience with another side of the legend you wouldn’t typically see.
At this point it was getting close to kick off, so we headed over to watch the game. What is important to remember here is that match day tickets are not included in this package – you will need to get them in addition from Manchester United. If you are unable to get a ticket for the match, the experience still offers the chance to get that valuable match day experience that makes Saturday or Sunday afternoons so unique.
After the final whistle blew, action then moves to Heaven, the hotel’s rooftop 5-a- side pitch. Here, it’s great to be able to get out of the cold and enjoy post-match entertainment and complimentary drinks. Again while enjoying the panoramic views of both Old Trafford and the city of Manchester, you can watch the other scores come in as well as get involved in the final of the quiz with a chance to win some champagne.
It was truly an exceptional and unique experience, something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Paul Walsh, Hotel Football general manager, said: “Pre-match, guests can take in luxury and fine dining in the Stadium Suite, with match predictions from footballing legends… and an atmosphere that will ensure there isn’t a dull moment during a match day to remember.” He’s not wrong.
Prices start from £145pp. For more information, visit www.hotelfootball.com/match-day-experience, call 0161 393 6830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org