On 12 June, the World Cup kicks off (quite literally) with the first Group A match between Croatia and Brazil. With all the action taking place thousands of miles away in Brazil, the next best thing to actually being there is to catch the action on a large screen, joined by hundreds of fellow football fans, gathering to urge on their favourite team.
London is the perfect place to do this, as it is teeming with places to go and things to do to celebrate the return of the world’ most popular football tournament. From large screens to convenient hotels, here’s the lowdown on how to celebrate every goal in style.
Watching the action
Football aficionados have two main options when it comes to watching the match in public in London. At a bar or via a large screen, specially set up for the purpose. Although large screens will not be in as much evidence as they were during the London Olympics, due to fears over potential violence, it is rumoured that Boris Johnson will allow some to be erected later on, should England stay in the World Cup for the latter stages. Until then, finding a sports bar or pub showing the action is a better bet
If you want to be surrounded by your fellow countrymen, seek out a country-themed bar. Examples include the Australian Walkabout in Temple Bar, the Brazilian Guanabara in Holborn, the quintessentially English Polo Bar on Bishopsgate or the Italian Bunga Bunga Bar and Pizzaria in Battersea. Or choose a bar themed to one of the countries playing in the match for some added spectator excitement.
Fuelling the fans
Football fans need to eat, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of bars, restaurants and eateries to choose from. Again, choosing somewhere specialising in food from a country playing on the day you are going out would add an extra dimension to the entertainment and you can have some interesting discussions with the owners over their team’s chances in the match.
Or follow the overall Brazilian theme and opt for some spicy South American food. Some great places to try are Cabana at Covent Garden, Comida in Mayfair or Desejo do Brazil near Paddington.
Recharging the batteries
Following the football can be tiring, both physically and emotionally. You will need somewhere convenient and comfortable to stay. If you want to come and go as you please and don’t mind sorting out your own cooking arrangements, opt for a self catering accommodation, such as a Collingham Serviced Apartment, located in the quiet Kensington area with easy links to sports bars and themed restaurants.
Or opt for a more luxurious stay at a boutique hotel, which offers a more intimate, friendly experience to soothe any frayed nerves. The Rathbone Hotel in the heart of the West End offers a top quality stay with a relaxing vibe. Or The Rubens is another good option, located on Buckingham Palace Road.
Buying the brand
Millions of pounds are made every World Cup from the sale of merchandise form shirts to mugs; teddy bears to footballs. Claim your souvenirs of the 2014 tournament at places like John Lewis, Sports Direct or the Adidas or Nike shops on Oxford Street Or go online to find an almost endless selection of memorabilia – media reports are naming this World Cup as the ‘most commercialised in World Cup history’, thanks to the plethora of online stores.
Toy shops, including Hamleys (Regent Street) and the children’s department of Harrods (Brompton Road) are also getting in on the act, selling branded teddy bears, balls, stickers and other toys and games for young fans.
It will be almost impossible to escape the football frenzy, so join in the fun and enjoy a summer of the beautiful game!