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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 09:38 GMT
England's ace base
By James Pearce
BBC Sport in Baden Baden

The Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe
Eriksson is delighted with England's choice of World Cup hotel
England's World Cup base, the Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe, looks fantastic.

Situated near the German spa town of Baden Baden, the five-star residence lies on a mountainside on the edge of the Black Forest, and boasts spectacular views.

Almost as impressive is the list of former guests, including international statesmen Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.

Tennis star Boris Becker and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn were both married here, although neither sportsman managed to make his marriage last.

England might hope they enjoy better luck.

In such an isolated location, security should be simple for the Football Association. Keeping the players occupied will be less straightforward.

If I was being critical, I felt my scrambled eggs in the morning were a touch cold
The FA are to tackle this by turning empty conference rooms into games rooms, while there is already a gym and a beautiful spa pool.

Having visited the indoor pool during my visit to the hotel for a media day with England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, I'm not sure it will provide players with hours of fun - as delightful as it is.

The Jacuzzi was a couple of degrees too cold although the manager said it was at an optimum 34C.

I asked him whether, if David Beckham asked, he would turn it up. He said if Beckham asked, he was sure he could manage it.

There is no doubt it is one of the world's best hotels. Although, if I was being criticial, I felt my scrambled eggs in the morning were a touch cold.

That may not matter for the players as the FA could bring their own chef. If they do, however, he will be replacing someone who won a chef of the year award in Germany, so that may be seen as a bit of a thumbs-down for German cooking.

Sven-Goran Eriksson looks at a bedroom in the Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe
A comfy room - but will the bed be big enough for Peter Crouch?
But it is not as if the players will care too much about cold eggs if they take in the breathtaking view.

Apparently, on a really clear day you can see to the end of the Alps. It is remarkable.

Among the 90 rooms at the hotel there are 16 suites. Clearly there are going to be more than 16 players, so one of the questions the hacks were asking was 'Who will get a suite?'

Sven simply said he hoped he got one - I guess Beckham will probably get one too - but there's definitely going to be competition on that front.

Another problem - for one of England's players at least - is the size of the beds.

The 60 new king size beds ordered by the FA measure two metres in length. That works out at 6ft 6ins, which will be just too short for 6ft 7ins striker Peter Crouch.

"They are also two metres wide, so the tallest players can sleep diagonally," added a helpful member of staff.

Sven-Goran Eriksson sits poolside at England's World Cup hotel
The pool area at the Buhlerhohe Schlosshotel is luxurious
That issue did not seem to unduly worry Sven, who seemed really relaxed during the visit.

Ever since he announced he was quitting his role after the World Cup, he seems to be more laid back.

He did seem genuinely quite proud of the hotel and is chuffed to bits with the training ground - a 15-minute drive away.

That too is in a beautiful location.

The pitch was very poor, although apparently there has been snow on it recently.

The other issue with the training ground is that it is set into a hillside.

In the 2002 World Cup in Japan, England put up massive screens around the training pitch so no-one could see in.

Here, people will be able to get on to the hillside and watch, however big the screens are.

Sven said he was not worried about that. But it may be easier to get a sneak view of England's training ground than it will be to look at some of the other training grounds.

The wives and girlfriends of the players will be based in Baden Baden, which is a 20-minute drive away, in a hotel near a well-known casino.

I asked Sven if he would let the players go there - he said: "I think some of them would like to, but I don't think it is a good idea."

The Swede will want his players relaxed at the Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe, but he will not be letting them off the lead.




SEE ALSO
Inside England's World Cup base
01 Feb 06 |  Internationals
England settle on World Cup base
16 Dec 05 |  World Cup 2006


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