I’ve been going to the Bet365 Stadium (Formally known as the Britannia Stadium) for the last five years. Being a die-hard United fan and living in Stoke, it’s only a stone’s throw distance from me to go and see my team play an away match against an always resilient Stoke side. Tickets are quite difficult to get for United’s home games and whilst tickets are available to sit in the Stoke stands nothing quite says a nice day out like matchday hospitality.
Over the years I’ve been to quite a few matchday hospitality experiences at various football grounds across the country. In terms of value for money, service and that luxury experience, Stoke City football club really do stand out amongst the pack. They’re right up there with the likes of Manchester United for hospitality at a fraction of the cost. Costing £160 per person which is a bargain compared to most matchday experiences, the 1863 lounge at Stoke is my matchday hospitality option of choice.
I find boxes are great when there is a nice group of you who want some privacy. The Tony Waddington suite (a slightly pricier experience) is always crammed full of one too many people so it feels less exclusive. Although you get a three-course meal in the Tony Waddington (compared to the one-course meal in the 1863 Lounge) I feel the 1863 Lounge is a smaller more private experience rather than the always cluttered Tony Waddington suite and you’re paying nearly half the price for it!
When your hospitality pack arrives in the mail it will contain your tickets and a complimentary car parking pass. The pass is always handy as parking at the Bet365 stadium is always a nightmare. As you make your way through the stadium entrance that various known celebrities, players and more will all step through during the day you feel a somewhat sense of importance. After a quick security search, you ascend the stairs inside the stadium to arrive at your suite.
Food is laid out in a buffet style at the back of the room and TV’s are playing live football matches. There’s also a cash bar if you need it! It’s cosy, it’s warm and for many a wet day or night in Stoke on Trent it’s just nice to know you can come inside, get warm and have some tasty food before the game begins.
You can arrive at your suite two and a half hours before kick-off where you can relax, put your feet up, grab a drink and watch some TV. The food on offer on this particular occasion was a choice of beef or bacon loin with potatoes, runner beans, tasty gravy, sauces and some of the best damn red cabbage I’ve ever had in my life! Not one word was spoken when tucking into this delicious meal and if a plate of food can silence me then you know it’s a damn good plate of food!
“The best damn red cabbage I’ve ever had in my life!”
After the meal, it was time for some pre-match entertainment where an old Stoke and United player came into the room to do a pre-match talk. Once upon a time a few of the first team players came into the lounge to sign autographs and take pictures. That was a cool experience. Something a little different from the normal Q&A situation. I wish they would bring those meet and greets back!
It was game time. We headed up to our premium seating in the Q Railing stand and saw that all the seats next to us were empty so it felt even more private and exclusive. The game was a little dull in the first half but the second half really kicked it up a notch and made for quite the spectacle.
At halftime we could head back down to our suite for tea, coffee or soup. I went with the soup to keep me warm during the second half. As the full-time whistle went and the full-time score was 2-2 it was time to head back to the suite for a nice Wrights pie. I had a quick read of my complimentary programme, had another drink and relaxed until the crowds outside had calmed down. I grabbed my coat and onwards we went back home.
The matchday hospitality experience at the Bet365 stadium gives you such a lovely, relaxing experience. The staff are always so warm and friendly, the food is equally warm yet tasty and the whole day is just that much more special when going in hospitality.
I’d love to try out a box experience one day at the Bet365 and compare it to my lounge experience. But if you want a luxury more private experience without a standalone box then the 1863 Lounge is probably the best match day package all round.
Thanks to Stoke City for having me and for allowing me to come to this fixture each and every year!
To see all of the Matchday Hospitality packages at the Bet365 Stadium CLICK HERE