If it’s English football, it’s vitally important

Since the men’s soccer team from England could clinch its spot in next year’s World Cup in Russia as early as Thursday, The Guardian decided to do an in-depth study of … the hotel where the players will be staying.

I love this story so much.

I love the level of detail — facts about the hotel, comparison to other places the team has stayed (not as nice as France for the Euros, apparently), the impact it might have on the players (will they be bored because it’s so remote), why manager Gareth Southgate likes it (that whole “remote” thing again) and that players will be allowed to bring their families (this from the country that made WAGs, or “wives and girlfriends,” famous).

And I love that they got reviews!

While that hotel (in Chantilly, France, for Euro 2016) was billed as “the epitome of French finesse and art de vivre,” featuring a restaurant with two Michelin stars and renowned for its links to the French aristocracy, rooms at the four-star ForRestMix are available for around 7,290 to 14,670 roubles a night – £95 to £192 – and the TripAdvisor website rates it only third out of the seven hotels in Repino.

Out of 85 reviews, 73 mark it as “excellent” or “very good” and the overwhelming majority are positive. However, not everyone is impressed. One holidaymaker describes it as being “like a transit hotel in Poland for the price of luxury accommodation”, complaining that there is a “poor swimming pool with lots of chemicals” and a “dirty hammam with disgusting steam quality”.

One review has the title “worst holiday in my life” and others seem unimpressed with the dark decor and modest furnishings, including the rather peculiar complaint that the hairdryer is “creepy” and “looks like an old vacuum cleaner.”

Don’t ever change, English football media.

UPDATE: But wait, there’s more! Now we have an analysis of the town where the team will be training!

On a recent visit, the silence in the air was interrupted by two workers welding metal and the crow of a rooster. A man nearby was grilling pork kebabs in his overgrown garden, under a light spray of rain.

Locals have mixed feelings about the massive construction effort under way, which replaces a Soviet-era pitch that was used primarily by children. For decades, Nadezhda, who declined to give her last name, has grown cherries, plums and blackcurrants on the 100-square-metre plot the Soviet government gave her. She and her neighbours, who also own allotments, now worry they will be flattened when the England team arrives. Irina, a 70-year-old former schoolteacher, disagrees. “It will do nothing but good for our small town. After the English leave, it will be returned to the Russians for us to use,” she says.

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