The Rugby World Cup is hosted by England and Wales this year, as 20 nations will do battle over six weeks for the most prestigious prize in Rugby Union. Away from the limelight, players and fans alike will need to rest up to stay at the top of their game.
From country manor resorts to plush inner-city hideaways, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to stay this autumn to follow in the footsteps of the tournament’s leading teams.
1. Hampton by Hilton Newcastle
Scotland are training at Newcastle Royal Grammar School ahead of two of their Pool B fixtures at St James’ Park. Fans seeking a city break could do far worse than the stylish Hampton by Hilton Newcastle, located opposite Newcastle Central Station and within easy walking distance of the city’s biggest local attractions and shopping districts. The Hampton features comfy, spacious rooms and an impressive fitness centre. Guests can also relax in the Hub bar and lounge, which is open round the clock.
2. Copthorne Hotel
South Africa will be training in Birmingham ahead of their Pool B match against Samoa at Villa Park. Fans hoping to get close to the action should look no further than Copthorne Hotel Birmingham, which provides convenient access to the city centre as well as comfortable guest rooms and excellent facilities, such as the 24-hour Le Club Fitness Suite. Guests can enjoy authentic Oriental cuisine, including traditional Singaporean, Malaysian and Chinese dishes and fine wines.
3. Celtic Manor Resort
Ireland will staying at the secluded and tranquil Celtic Manor Resort, close to their training base in Newport, ahead of their match against France at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on 11 October. Celtic Manor’s wide fortress design is reminiscent of a cruise ship, and it is home to 400 rooms and six fine restaurants. Having hosted the 2010 Ryder Cup, this hotel is brimming with sporting heritage, and the Irish team will be able to play an ample 54 holes of golf when away from the training pitch. The players can also look forward to indulging in spa treatments and partaking in activities as varied as fishing and laser combat.
4. The Vale Resort
Wales and France will share the Vale Resort whilst training in Glamorgan ahead of fixtures at the Millennium Stadium. Frequently used by the Welsh team ahead of the Six Nations and Autumn Internationals, this four-star hotel features no less than seven IRB standard rugby training pitches, an indoor training arena and cryotherapy chambers. During downtime from training, players can relax in the Vale spa, go for a knock on one of the two championship golf courses, or dine in the AA rosette-awarded Vale Grill. The chic Salamanza Champagne Bar is on hand for players who wish to celebrate victories in style.
5. The Gainsborough Bath Spa
Australia will be training in Bath ahead of opening Pool A fixture against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium in Wales on 23 September. Fans looking to follow the Aussies’ progress should look no further than the Gainsborough Bath Spa, which offers a blend of traditional and contemporary luxury in a historical city. Named after the artist Thomas Gainsborough, this Grade II-listed building dates from the 18th century, and is the only hotel in Britain to have access to natural thermal waters. High ceilings and tall windows are a feature of many of the 99 gloriously light-filled rooms and suites, and the hotel’s bright-yet-understated restaurant is run by maverick German chef Johann Lafer, whose “dining without borders” philosophy sees him fuse locally-sourced foods with funky Asian flavours.
6. Lensbury Resort
Both South Africa and current World Cup holders New Zealand will be staying at the Lensbury Resort during the tournament, ahead of fixtures at Wembley Stadium and the Olympic Stadium respectively. The Lensbury offers ultra-comfortable king-size beds – de rigueur for hulking great rugby players – as well as its own all-weather rugby pitch, a swimming pool and gym. This hotel is certainly set to prove accommodating for its guests. In order to accommodate 6’9” Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, who can bench press 27-stone worth of weights, the Lensbury have shipped in bespoke 70kg dumbbells. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s rumoured that the All Blacks will be served almost 300 eggs every morning!
Italy are training in Cobham, Surrey ahead of matches against France and Ireland at Twickenham and the Olympic Stadium, respectively. Here, size matters as even the smallest rooms start at 31 square metres – around 20% bigger than the average UK hotel room. The decadent Signature 319 Suite is 75 square metres and offers wall-to-wall panoramic views and a large panoramic decked terrace, as well as its own dining facilities. Like others on this list, Brooklands offers exquisite spa and fitness facilities, as well as an award-winning bar and grill restaurant.
8. Pennyhill Park
With three Pool A fixtures at Twickenham, England will be staying just outside of London at five-star Pennyhill Park, close to their Surrey training base. The players can expect to be pampered: each room boasts hand-made mattresses and a special “pillow menu”, ensuring relaxing pre-match kips tailored to their individual needs. The team will dine at two award-winning restaurants – The Latymer, headed by Michelin-Starred chef Michael Wignall, and the vibrant Brasserie. England’s players can unwind post-match at the hotel’s spa, which features outdoor pools and Jacuzzis.
9. Woodbury Park Golf and Country Club
The Romanian team have chosen to stay Woodbury Park Golf and Country Club in Exeter ahead of their match against Italy at Sandy Park. Woodbury Park boasts some excellent sports facilities, including a fully-equipped state-of-the-art gym, a 20-metre indoor swimming pool and an 18-hole championship golf course. Specific menus focusing on sports nutrition are available, ensuring that the players remain battle-ready. The hotel is also inviting fans of all sides to drop by during the tournament, with many matches being shown on a big screen in the clubhouse.
10. The Clarence
Perhaps surprisingly given the dominance of American Football in the States, the USA have qualified for the Rugby World Cup and will be training in Portsmouth ahead of their match against Samoa at Brighton’s Community Stadium. Situated just a few hundred yards from Portsmouth seafront, The Clarence is an award-winning boutique hotel, and each room is individually-designed with a luxury en suite, making it the perfect destination for fans seeking a seaside dwelling close to the USA’s team base.
Which hotel is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.