Welwyn Garden City hotel’s World Cup history

A POPULAR and long-standing hotel is hoping to reach its goal of becoming the number one place to stay in Times Territory.

Plans to build an extra 23 bedrooms, function room, gymnasium and swimming pool at the Best Western Homestead Court Hotel in WGC were recently approved by Welwyn Hatfield Council.

But while most eyes are turned towards the future of the hotel, manager Nabil Lababedi has delved into the past and uncovered some of the building’s rich history, and in particular one glorious summer 44 years ago.

“Walk into the bar, and you can’t miss the 1966 England World Cup strip and display on one of the walls,” said Mr Lababedi.

“The hotel has strong World Cup connections, but while the England team never stayed at the hotel, a number of other countries competing in the competition did stay during the summer of 1966.”

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And the guests don’t come much bigger than England’s opponents in that famous final, West Germany.

“The West German team took up residence in the Homestead Court,” Mr Lababedi said.

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“They practised at Bragbury End in Stevenage and drew huge crowds wherever they went.

“They said they had liked to train behind the hotel on the King George V playing fields, but found the surface too bumpy.”

One of England’s other great rivals also spent time at the hotel.

Having lost 1-0 to Alf Ramsey’s side in one of the competition’s most heated and controversial matches, Argentina decided to let off steam in WGC.

“They had played badly against England and arrived at the hotel the day after the match under the impression that WGC was in the centre of London,” Mr Lababedi said.

“After discovering they were miles from the big city they started arguing and refused to stay until, it’s been reported, they saw an attractive woman in the hotel and changed their minds!”

The hotel is currently taking bookings for Christmas Day lunch, cooked by head chef Peter Walker.

For more information call 01707 324336.

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