The Holiday Inn Norwich City was the original football hotel. Opened in 2007, the hotel is located in the corner of The Barclay and the Jarrold Stand’s at Norwich City’s Carrow Road, offering paying guests a unique way of watching the football in a ‘pitch view room’. Where many hotels attached to football stadiums or sports grounds do not permit guests to stay onsite when matches are taking place, the Holiday Inn Norwich City actively encourages it.
The hotel however didn’t come on my radar until June 2020, when Premier League football returned for the first time after the league’s suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Watching Norwich City play Southampton on television, the camera panned several times to a hotel in the corner where savvy Southampton fans watched their team win 3-0 whilst the stands at Carrow Road remained completely empty due to restrictions.
Whilst planning a holiday to Norfolk in December 2020, I looked a few days before whether there was availability that upcoming weekend at the hotel, the same day top of the table Norwich City were due to take on struggling Sheffield Wednesday in the EFL Championship. I was in luck – a cancellation left a room available for £80.
The match would also see the return of fan’s for the first time in 9 months, as the stadium was permitted to have 2,000 fans in attendance. Arriving at the hotel’s car park around 1pm (parking costs an additional £6.95 per night), there were already queues outside the ground as fan’s had temperatures taken. The hotel’s lobby was also fairly busy as some fan’s were enjoying pre-match drinks at the bar, I did also note a large Sheffield Wednesday presence who I assume were staying in the hotel for the match.
After checking-in, I made my way to the third floor. The room was fairly spacious but the furniture didn’t exactly invite itself to staring out the window for 90 minutes of football. As noted earlier, the hotel actively encourages watching the match from your room but there were a set of ‘regulations’ that were to be followed – although I can’t comment how strictly these were enforced.
The view from my room was fairly good, although I suspect it would be slightly better a little higher and further in the corner of the hotel. The club also installed the world’s first revolving LED screen in a football stadium in 2016, which may add to the matchday experience within the stadium but does somewhat obscure the view in places from bedrooms!
As for the match itself, it was an entertaining fixture with struggling Sheffield Wednesday taking the lead in the 60th minute. The home side did however have the last laugh as they scored a quick fire double in the 81st and 84th minute to win and go top of the table. It was also great to have some atmosphere in the stands, with the 2,000 supporters making a good atmosphere.
The Holiday Inn Norwich City is certainly a novel hotel if visiting the city and a fan of football. However even if you weren’t staying on a matchday, the hotel still offers a good base for exploring the city – the stadium and hotel are located about a mile south of Norwich City Centre, or about a 20 minute walk from sights such as the Cathedral, Castle or Shops.
Adult tickets for the Sheffield Wednesday match would of cost £30, therefore the price of £80 for the room for 2 Adults I thought was good value – especially for staying in the warmth in early December whilst still being able to feel the atmosphere through the window. With Norwich City being promoted to the Premier League for 2021, perhaps it is a cost effective way of watching the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United for both home and away fans?