Sports travel blog

Guide to sports travel and hotel accommodation

Newmarket Champion Stakes: Flat racing at its best

Posted in  Horse Racing by Vincent on the July 26th, 2010
Newmarket Racecourses, the home of flat racing

Newmarket Racecourses, the home of flat racing, is one of the most famous racecourses in the world. It holds many Group One races, the most prestigious races in the sport. The course itself actually consists of two different tracks, the Rowley Mile, used in spring and autumn, and the July Course, used, as the name suggests, in summer. Newmarket is a special place to visit for any race, let alone the Champion Stakes, one of the leading autumn races in the UK. First run in 1877 at the Rowley Mile over 1 mile and 2 furlongs, it is open to fillies and mares over three years old. This year’s race, on October 16, is particularly worth seeing, as it is your last chance to see the race at its spiritual home: it is due to switch to Ascot from next year.

Where to stay

Originally a Georgian hunting lodge built for the Duke of Bedford in the 18th Century, Bedford Lodge Hotel was converted into a luxury hotel in the 1940s. It was named Suffolk Hotel of the Year 2006-07, and it is easy to see why. Set in three acres of beautiful rose gardens but just a 10-minute walk from Newmarket, it marries contemporary luxury with traditional charm. There is a gym and pool, an excellent restaurant and free wi-fi.

Just outside Newmarket, in the hamlet of Saxon Street, is The Reindeer, Cheveley, a stylishly finished, surprisingly modern hotel. The quality of its food is excellent.

Newmarket is quite an expensive place to stay, but there are a few more affordable options around. The Black Horse Motel, in the village of Swaffham four miles outside Newmarket, offers rooms in a converted stable block. They are fairly basic, but include a colour TV, central heating and tea and coffee facilities, as well as a full English breakfast. The historic university town of Cambridge, well worth visiting, is just a 10-minute drive away.

The Cadogan Hotel Newmarket is a cosy family-run hotel which was recently upgraded from 2 star to 3 star by the AA. All 12 en-suite rooms come with a TV, hospitality tray, hairdryer and ironing facilities. Free wireless internet is available throughout the hotel. There are no leisure facilities on site, but guests can use the facilities of a local hotel for an additional charge.

How to get there

The majority of racegoers travel to Newmarket by road. As such, the immediate environs of the town itself become rammed with cars in the hours before the first race. Road diversions will be in place, attempting to take you around the town, but you are best advised to ignore them and continue through the centre – it is far quicker. The Rowley mile is clearly signposted.

It is also possible to reach Newmarket by public transport. Regular rail services run from London Kings Cross and Liverpool Street to Cambridge, Stansted Airport and Ipswich, where onward connections by rail, bus or road can be made, for example by picking up a taxi or hopping on one of the Newmarket-operated return coach services from Cambridge train station (which also operate from the Robin Hood pub at Cherry Hinton).

There are, of course, a large number of taxi firms operating in Cambridge and Newmarket.

Celtic v Braga Champions League 3rd round

Posted in  Football by Vincent on the July 20th, 2010

Following a disappointing season in 2009-10, Celtic face qualification for the group stage of this year’s Champions League, something they would not have hoped for (or perhaps even expected) in August 2009. But we at MATCHhotels.com wouldn’t want you to get down in the dumps about your team’s underachievement – an extra European tie means an extra opportunity for a city break. Come on guys, think outside the box.

The Glaswegians have drawn Liga Sagres runners-up Braga, and travel to north-west Portugal for the first leg on Tuesday, July 27, before welcoming their opponents to Celtic Park a week later on August 3. An aggregate victory would leave Celtic with just the play-off round (in which they were eliminated by Arsenal last year) to negotiate, so the rewards could be huge.

 Where to stay

Celtic Park is situated just outside Glasgow city centre, so there are accommodation options to suit every budget. The urban chic of the Brunswick Hotel Glasgow, situated in trendy Merchant City, makes it one of the most attractive modern hotels in the city. Facilities are limited, but its bar is open until 4am every day and wi-fi is complimetary. Rooms start at a rather reasonable £50.

Another classy hotel is the Carlton George, a “boutique” hotel right smack in the city centre. The rooms are finished to the highest standard and come with that rarest of treats, a free mini-bar. The rooftop restaurant is excellent too.

If you’re looking for a more homely feel or fancy staying for a few nights, it might be worth considered a serviced apartment, such as those offered by Saco Hotel Glasgow. Prices start around £90, for which you get a beautifully furnished flat complete with a dining table and chairs, a dishwasher and a fully equipped kitchen.

 How to get there

Celtic Park is in the east of the city, about a mile and a half from the centre. Many fans make the half-hour walk and take in s0me of the pubs along the way, but you can also catch a bus (number 43 from Renfield St or numbers 61 and 62/262 from Union St) or a train, from Central Station to Dalmarnock, a five-minute walk away. Bridgeton station is also close, but should be avoided: the area is a Rangers stronghold and Celtic fans are not particuarly welcome. Trains from the other main station, Queen Street, run to Bellgrove and Carntyne, but both are still a 20-minute walk to the ground.

If you arrive early enough (at least an hour before kick-off), you will be able to park on any of the streets within a few miles of the stadium. Any number of entrepreneurial young locals will offer to “watch your motor” in exchange for a small sum of money, which is undoubtedly a good deal. It is also possible to park for free in the stadium’s own car park, but this is not advised: it is almost impossible to get out. Other unofficial car parks charging competitive rates are dotted around the area on match days.

Two airports serve Glasgow: Glasgow International, 15 minutes from the town centre, and Glasgow Preswick, about 50 minutes south-west of Glasgow.