England’s players will look forward to staying at a luxury beach resort at the World Cup in Qatar next month, but will be unable to drink alcohol in the team hotel.
Gareth Southgate has opted to base his squad in the recently expanded fishing village of Al Wakrah 10 miles south of Doha, with a provisional booking made at the Souq Al-Wakra hotel, and the nearby Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium secured as England’s training ground.
An FA delegation are understood to have inspected both sites on a visit to Qatar in January after which they endorsed Southgate’s choices. Southgate’s decision was largely based on logistics and transport links, with his chosen hotel a short drive from eight of the 10 tournament venues, as well as a desire to avoid the hustle and bustle of Doha. Although Al Wakrah has seen considerable building work in recent years its location on the shores of the Persian Gulf offers more tranquillity and the players’ families will be able to enjoy several public beaches.
The hotel describes itself as ‘an elegant seaside stay,’ and as well as a private beach also offers an on-site spa. Whilst five-star hotels and docked cruise liners will be the only places to drink alcohol in Qatar other than in FIFA-run fan parks, the Souq Al Wakra is a dry hotel, although mocktails are available.
On Southgate’s recommendation England will train at the Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium, a six-minute drive away. The 12,000-seat stadium is the home of the Al-Wakrah Sports Club, a multi-sport club whose football team play in the Qatar Stars League, although they will move to the nearby to the newly-constructed 40,000-seat Al-Janoub Stadium after the World Cup.
Al-Janoub is one of two World Cup venues in Al Wakrah, with four more stadiums in Doha and two in the city of Al-Rayyan, 20 miles to the north west. The final will take place at the Lusail Iconic Stadium, 15 miles north of Doha.
Southgate also opted for a beach base at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where England stayed in the coastal town of Repino north of St Petersburg, creating a relaxed atmosphere he will attempt to replicate in Qatar.
Many of Southgate’s predecessors were criticised for their choice of World Cup base following tournament failures. The wives and families attracted adverse publicity by running riot in Baden-Baden under Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2006, the players complained of boredom in Fabio Capello’s austere regime in rural Rustenburg four years later and Roy Hodgson’s training sessions were hampered by horrendous traffic with his squad condemned to travelling across Rio in 2014.
Located on Qatar’s west coast, the Souq Al-Wakra Hotel is around a 30-minute drive to the capital city of Doha. Described as ‘an elegant seaside stay near central Doha’, the hotel is around £110 per night in non-peak season and not available to book for beyond September.
- Standard rooms are 25 square metres with a flatscreen TV, free wifi and a coffee machine. There are 101 rooms in total and 17 ‘superior’ rooms – not enough for the entire England squad and coaching staff. Those are 43 square metres with a king-sized bed.
- The hotel has access to the Al-Wakra public beach and its market, with Mediterranean cuisine. There are five restaurants, some with a sea view, with Western favourites or Arabic and Levantine dishes such mezze plates, mixed grill or local dish sawani. At the main restaurant, main courses are priced at around 60 Qatari Rials,
- The on-site Tivoli Spa has a ‘menu’ of treatments listed as: full body scrub with relaxing strokes, foot rituals, facials, reflexology and hot-stone journeys. Prices are around £100 for a 60-minute session.
- The fitness centres are small – one for males and another for females – and they are limited to treadmills, a couple of exercise machines and free weights.
- England are expected to train at the Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium, a six-minute drive away. It’s a 12,000-seater stadium built for Al-Wakrah Sports Club, though that team will move to the nearby 40,000 nearby Al-Janoub Stadium, built especially for the World Cup.
- Gareth Southgate might be pleased to learn the resort is a ‘dry hotel’ and does not serve alcohol. Mocktails and soft drinks are available.
- There are also meeting rooms for Southgate to hold tactical briefings, ‘equipped with the latest state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment’ and printers.
Gareth Southgate has opted to base his England squad at the Souq Al Wakra Hotel which is based 10 miles south of the capital of Doha
The Three Lions have also secured the Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium as their training base which is a 12,000 seater stadium and the home of the Al-Wakrah Sports Club
The five-star hotel is a picturesque setting and its courtyard has palm trees surrounding impressive water fountains which people can relax next to with plenty of seats
The hotel describes itself as an ‘elegant seaside stay’ and offers its own private beach on the shores of the Persian Gulf
The hotel’s official website states that booking a classic room at the hotel can cost anything upwards of £62 per night while a superior suite is the most expensive from £109 per night
The Junior Suite (available from £102 per night) has its own living room, sofa, king bed and spacious bathroom with high-speed WiFi
There are just 17 superior rooms (pictured) available in the hotel which won’t be enough to cover all of England’s playing and coaching staff
The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool while it has a number of indoor facilities including the hydro pool (pictured) which are currently available to vaccinated guests only with a maximum capacity of 75 per cent of normal figures
As well as the hydro pool, other indoor facilities include treatment room (pictured), a spa and a fitness centre which will help players recuperate between games
The hotel is situated in the recently expanded fishing village of Al Wakrah and players’ families can enjoy several public beaches
Al Wakrah has seen considerable work done in recent years but its location on the shores of the Persian Gulf offers tranquility
The hotel’s website lists five restaurants in total although all are said to be temporarily closed at the moment except for the Jarnen (pictured) which sells ‘mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine’ as well as classic international food
The Jarnen also offers outdoor seating (pictured) and players will be hoping the other restaurants which sell Arabic and international food opens up by the time they land in Qatar
There is a fitness centre on-site (pictured) but they are small with one for males and one for females and are limited to treadmills, a couple of exercise machines and free weights
An FA delegation are understood to have visited both the hotel and England’s proposed training ground in a visit made to Qatar in January
The hotel has impressive modern furnishings and it does not serve alcohol with mocktails and soft drinks available to visitors
Southgate’s decision for the venue was largely based around it’s close proximity to eight of the 10 stadiums as well as wanting to avoid the hustle and bustle of Doha
England will hope to build on the promise of reaching last year’s Euro 2020 final which ended in a heartbreaking penalty shootout loss to Italy