Travelling to Barcelona, London, Munich, Paris, Milan? Combine a stay at Mandarin Oriental with watching a top-division football club in its home stadium or playing in the Champions League
Bayern Munich celebrate winning the Uefa Champions League
It's known as 'the beautiful game', with good reason. Witnessing the sublime skills of Leo Messi at Barcelona, the confident and ruthless finishing of Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid, or the technical wizardry of Arjen Robben at Bayern Munich, all demonstrate how and why football is the world's most popular sport.
On the European club front, there's no greater prize than the Uefa Champions League trophy, which this season (2016 to 2017) marks its 25th anniversary. The most prestigious annual competition for a club anywhere in the world, it is contested by teams from Europe's top divisions. Each country's national league champion - and, in many cases, a number of teams beneath them - have competed for the trophy since 1992. Prior to that, it was known as the European Cup, but it has lost none of its lustre given the change in name and format - on the contrary.
Leo Messi playing for FC Barcelona
Around 360-million television viewers around the world watched the 2015 final between Barcelona and Juventus, but for devotees of the game, nothing comes close to watching it live. In Barcelona, the legendary stadium Camp Nou (New Field) is the cathedral of sporting venues. With a capacity of 99,354, it is the largest stadium in Europe and the third largest in the world, and has an atmosphere that is unlike any other. It's the spiritual home of the fiercely proud Catalan region and people, and the club's motto, 'Més que un club' ('More than a club'), confirms this.
Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
The concierge at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona is happy to assist in organising tickets to matches, as well as stadium tours on non-match days. The stadium is located just three miles from the hotel, a short cab ride away. But, for many, the pre-match ritual is all-important: walking with the thousands of spectators to the football ground and taking in the unique atmosphere before the maestros - including Argentina's Leo Messi, Brazil's Neymar and Uruguay's Luis Suárez - take to the pitch. Having won five Champions League titles to date, they are among the perennial favourites to repeat the feat.
Paris Saint-Germain, commonly known as PSG, is the most successful club in French football history, with 31 titles. They are yet, however, to lift the Champions League trophy; but under their owners, Qatar Sports Investments, there have been significant investments in players, including the Argentine Angel Di María and Uruguayan Edison Cavani. Their home matches are at Parc des Princes, only five miles from the elegant Mandarin Oriental, Paris on Rue Saint-Honoré. Hopes are high among fans working at the hotel that PSG will bring the crown back to the French capital before long.
Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal FC
In London, fierce rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were both in the Champions League, but with the latter defeated in the group stages it is Arsenal facing Bayern in 2017. Based in the north of the city, Arsenal's Emirates Stadium is within easy reach of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London.
Elsewhere across Europe, Mandarin Oriental, Milan can help arrange tickets for Italian giants AC Milan, and few teams come with as storied a history as five-time winner Bayern Munich, not far from the city's Mandarin Oriental, Munich on Neuturmstrasse. Wherever you take in matches across Europe, you can be sure of the best seats in the house, not to mention tips on top players to watch - just ask the concierge.
For more on Champions League fixtures, visit www.uefa.com