The Hilton located five miles to the west of Southampton is an attractive destination. It is a pretty swanky hotel in a quiet, lush green and spacious setting. There is an 18-hole golf course directly opposite the main entrance to the hotel and all the luxury trappings one may expect from a good hotel -- spa, pool and restaurants.
Although a fair way away from the Southampton town centre, the hotel has all one would need for a weekend getaway. The golf course is to the north of the hotel and the wide open acres certainly present a pleasant view for guests at the hotel. But if you booked a south-facing room, the view would not be too shabby. You could just go to the balcony, take a seat and watch high-level cricket taking place inside a magnificent stadium.
For the sake of the reveal, and knowing that it is the sports page, the name of the Hilton has been held back. Starting with ‘Ageas Bowl Hilton’ would have given it away for cricket fans. While having hotels, boarding facilities or apartment buildings as part of stadiums is not the most surprising thing in the world, it is the juxtaposition of the two seemingly independent entities that inspires some wonder at the Ageas Bowl.
The stadium, where Bangladesh will play Afghanistan in their World Cup match today, is not like others in England. It seems a proper stadium and not a cricket ground. The arena is pleasingly circular, not with enormous square boundaries like Cardiff or oddly misshapen ones like Trent Bridge. While those idiosyncrasies add to the charm of cricket in England, the Ageas Bowl stands out because it is normal. The Hilton, a globally recognised brand, is expected to be a standalone hotel, not one where you may be woken up by a particularly big hit crashing through your window. Yet, when you step out of the press box and head towards the lift, there are two corridors of hotel rooms stretching out on both sides.
Of course, Hilton has used their financial acumen in maximising profits. For ‘Pitchview’ rooms, the check-in is 3:00pm and the checkout is 9:00 am. In other words, if you are here to watch the cricket, better book for two days.