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The beautiful game is a funny old beast. You spend your life supporting a team, riding the rollercoaster of highs and lows, only to end up in the trough of disappointment. While your team is doing
well, you can be sure that someone, somewhere is doing better. They’ve generally got more money, better players and a superior stadium. That team, more often than not, is Chelsea – particularly if
you live in London.
The facilities at Stamford Bridge are closer to a five-star hotel than a football stadium. There’s a top-end music venue, a health spa, a Millennium and Copthorne hotel and the best hospitality suites in the business. Here we round up our top picks of what’s available on match days and beyond.
EVENT VENUE: Millennium & Copthorne
The stadium’s 281-room, four-star hotel is arguably the tipping factor that makes Chelsea the best-equipped ground in the league. For the high-rolling guest, a selection of suites are available, while for delegates staying on after a meeting or conference, the bedrooms have everything a business guest needs. A range of match-day overnight packages are also offered, including tickets for a game with excellent seats, dinner and breakfast the following morning. A Club Lounge is on hand for guests in the suites, as is The Chelsea Club, which has an Antara spa with 25m pool, a Jacuzzi and a hive of treatment rooms with experienced therapists.
EVENT VENUE: Under the bridge
When it was announced that a private nightclub was set to launch at Chelsea, speculation was rife as to what extravagances it would contain. There was talk of 4m-high waterfalls, underground entrances and mobile phone-signal jammers, but what the club has actually produced is one of the top live music venues in London. Under the Bridge opened in March, with a reception capacity of 600 and dining maximum of 300 guests. Its AV facilities are second to none and it has a green room and VIP area worthy of the biggest stars. Other than live music, we could also see the space well employed for hospitality events, awards dinners and private parties looking for serious exclusivity.
Marco is the eponymous fine-dining space at Chelsea, fronted by enfant terrible of the cooking world, Mr Pierre White himself. The restaurant has launched a new package for the 2011/12 Premiership season: for £150, guests receive a three-course meal, half a bottle of wine, a ticket in the West Stand and a programme. If you’re feeling adventurous, don’t miss the steaks served with Marco’s trademark herb escargots (snails) and béarnaise sauce.
EVENT VENUE: The Great
One of London’s largest venues, the Great Hall can host up to 1,500 guests for a reception and 750 for dinner. It’s set on the ground floor of the West Stand and offers 1,400 sq m of load-bearing floor space, it’s totally self-contained (with its own bar, toilets, cloakroom and access), so events can run independently here, free of disturbances from anything else going on in the stadium.
HOSPITALITY: Tambling suite
One of the West Stand’s most popular suites, this is great value. It offers two pre-game courses, so is perfect for guests who don’t want to linger for long before the football.
Best for: good value with great seats
Capacities: tables of 10
Price: £3,650 (prices quoted here are per ticket,
per season, see p. 191 for matchday packages)
HOSPITALITY: Private Box
Boxes offer the most face time with clients and a private environment in which to do business. Catering is done independently for your party, often with a range of menus available.
Best for: exclusivity with the best views, shielded from the elements
Price: on application
HOSPITALITY: Executive Club
Well located on the halfway line, the Executive Club is one of the top hospitality offerings, with three-course fine dining pre-match, a complimentary bar and snacks post-match.
Best for: lively restaurant-style atmosphere and the best seats in the house
Capacity: tables of 10
Price: £8,100 per ticket per season
HOSPITALITY: Captain’s/Manager’s Bar
A cheaper option which doesn’t offer an all-inclusive bar or food. Ideal for football fans who want guaranteed excellent seats and access to an exclusive area pre-match.
Best for: entertaining die-hard football fans
Capacity: tables of 10
Price: £2,550 per ticket per season
Before each season, Chelsea runs a tasting session for its VIP clients to choose the menus for the hospitality areas. Exclusive US caterer Levy Restaurants manages the whole F&B operation on site and puts together 30 starters, 40 main courses and 40 desserts for guests to select from. At the 2011/12 tasting, the ‘Authentic’ selection really stood out. Designed for the more ambitious palate, a range of menus from around the world have been designed, with the focus on rare, high-quality ingredients. The guys haven’t forgotten their roots, though. ‘The Shed’ package has all the traditional football fare you’d expect: hot dogs, burgers, mini steak-and-ale pies and slow-cooked ribs – enough to get any fan’s mouth watering.
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events 2011.