Why London is the best place in the country to watch this summer’s sports

Henman Hill at WimbledonThe summer is always a favourite time of the year for sports fans here in the UK. The football league season might be over, but over the coming weeks this year we’ve got the FA Cup final, the World Cup, and Wimbledon to name just three of the main sporting events taking place.

Perhaps saying “just” isn’t quite right here – the FA Cup final is arguably the most coveted match on the UK football calendar, the World Cup is the biggest football event on earth and Wimbledon is the most popular of the four Grand Slam tennis events. These aren’t “just” sporting events – they’re some of the most followed, watched and anticipated events in the sporting calendar.

So if we couple this with the fact London is at its busiest in terms of visitors during the summer months, it’s no real surprise that we’re often asked where you can watch X match or Y game, regardless of the day of the week or in fact, time of the day.

And the great thing about London? As with everything, no matter how specific your tastes may be, you’ll always be able to find somewhere perfect for you. It really is one of the best cities to visit if you’re a sports fan wanting to keep up-to-date with every kick of the ball or serve of the racket, and we wanted to take some time to explain exactly why.

You can watch the event (almost) at the venue without needing a ticket

Let’s take Wimbledon as an example. Tickets are traditionally hard to come by – and that’s no different for Wimbledon 2018 – and so getting seated to watch a match, particularly on one of the main courts or later in the tournament, can be more difficult than many might expect.

Rather than just settling for this fact and disappointing swathes of fans, organisers arrange for each match to be shown on huge screens outside of the venue (home to the ever-popular “Henman Hill”). You can head to Wimbledon, soak up the atmosphere and watch every match outside of the venue, enjoying your own food and drink and having a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable day.

What’s more, some fans actually prefer this approach as it means they can make it a family occasion. If you have young children, taking them to Wimbledon can induce all sorts of headaches. But if you’re outside of the venue, you can have a picnic, take as many toys as you can carry and let them play freely whilst you enjoy the tennis.

Late night sports bar aren’t just for America

Moving inside, the ‘sports bar’ might be an American tradition, but over the years they’ve gradually made their way to the UK and London in particular has a variety of bars showing every sport imaginable.

And whilst we’re quite fortunate this year in terms of the World Cup – the fixtures for the 2018 World Cup mean if you’re staying with us in London you’ll be able to view most games at reasonable times of the day – the sports bars will undoubtedly be showing them, and any replays or insights, whatever time it is.

They make for really great places if you’re a solo traveller and a sports fan, too. You might be able to watch the FA Cup final in your hotel room, but soaking up the atmosphere in a place where you know everyone else is a sports fan? Now that’s appealing.

One of the most popular examples in London of such a sports bar is ‘The Carlsberg Sports Bar’ located on the other side of St James’s to us here at DUKES Hotel – and being located in the Empire casino, not only is it 24/7, but it’s the perfect connection to our third point.

Casinos often have it all

London may not have the same ‘city that never sleeps’ moniker as some other cities around the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find what you want if you look for it.

The city is scattered with casinos and many have a 24/7 license, giving you the opportunity to eat, drink and enjoy whatever casino game takes your fancy irrelevant of the time of day – and for most, having a lounge area to kick back and watch sports in is a key part of their offering.

Often the go to place for US boxing matches that don’t start until the early hours of the morning here in the UK, the atmosphere is very much relaxed, informal and especially in the early hours, it can be surprisingly quiet.

Enjoying the summer sports in London

London loves sports. From the mainstream to the niche, whatever your chosen sport is, you’ll be able to find it in London – and with this summer one packed full of sport, you’ll find fewer places better to enjoy them than those right here in the city.

Image courtesy of Jonathanawhite

Wembley Stadium: London’s most notable sporting venue

An external, nighttime shot of London's Wembley stadium

The discussion around London’s most notable sporting venue can be a heated one. There are a number of claimants to that venerable crown and your views will no doubt depend on which sport your allegiances lie with.

If you are a tennis fan, your choice may be Wimbledon. A cricket fan will always go for Lords, whilst a rugby fan would choose Twickenham and for the all-round athletics fan, the choice would be the new Olympic Park, built especially for the London Olympics of 2012.

We’ll be providing details on each of these venues in future articles, but for now we will focus on Wembley Stadium, the home of English football, located in North London in the borough of Brent.

Built in 1923 for the British Empire exhibition and originally called the Empire Stadium, the first major event Wembley hosted was the FA Cup final of 1923. The original structure survived until 2003 when it was demolished,, eventually reopening in 2007 as the new Wembley Stadium.

Whilst the old stadium was famous for its twin towers, the new stadium is famous for its arch which, at a height of 440 feet (133 m) and with a span of just over 1,000 feet (305 m), is the world’s longest single span roof. Moreover the roof slides to ensure that all spectators can be covered yet at the same time allows direct sunlight to all parts of the pitch. The pitch itself is a mixture of synthetic and natural grass ensuring a high-quality playing surface all year round.

Containing 90,000 seats and boasting 98 kitchens (just enough to be able to feed 90,000 hungry spectators!), Wembley has seen many famous visitors over the years, particularly when you realise it’s been so much more than a fotball venue.

For example, it’s hosted many music concerts over the years, including Live Aid in 1985, whilst also being home to the Olympics in 1948 and the football World Cup final in 1966 when England famously won in the final against West Germany.. but only after extra time!

Wembley has even been host to a number of American Football matches in recent times and you might be able to catch a game if you are coming to see us in the next few weeks to take advantage of our Autumn Flutter offer (on any weekend in September or October).  The dates for the NFL games at Wembley are currently set to be:

  • 28th September – Miami Dolphins v Oakland Raiders
  • 26th October – Detroit Lions v Atlanta Falcons
  • 9th November – Dallas Cowboys v Jacksonville

Tickets for these events are in short supply at this late stage, but if anyone can find them, our concierge can so why not set him the challenge!

Able to help you get the most from your time with us at DUKES, our concierge will do as much as they can to make sure you see and experience Wembley Stadium exactly as you want to, whether that’s by attending a game, simply walking past, or via the way that’s always recommended: by taking part in one of the much revered stadium tours – enjoy!

3 reasons to visit London this summer

A view of Wimbledon tennis courtsThis was was written for summer 2014 – we’ll be updating it for summer 2018 soon!

With summer officially due to begin on the 21st June, it is just around the corner – whether the sunshine plays by the rules is another question all together.

If you want to enjoy the summer months, then London is the place to be – there is so much going on every day! Continue reading “3 reasons to visit London this summer”