Planning for a marathon is not just about the running. You want to make sure you’ve got somewhere to stay that’s relatively close to the finish line and where your family and friends can come out to see you in all your glory!
If you have never run a marathon, are thinking of running one or have run several and are coming back for more, we’ve been through some of the most popular and scenic European routes. Plus we’ve picked the best hotels to make a quick exit, relax in the spa post-run or to cheer from the balcony…
Virgin Money London Marathon[caption id="attachment_10967" align="aligncenter" width="900"] © Virgin Money London Marathon[/caption]
Ah London, that holy grail of marathons that so few are lucky enough to get into and yet every year thousands more discover a love of running in this beautiful city. The course is mainly flat and passes some of the most iconic buildings in Europe.
Locals come out in droves to cheer on the runners with the entire route being surrounded by spectators. Have your name visible on your shirt and they’ll cheer you on personally when you need it most. You’ll feel like Mo Farah with so many people screaming your name along the route.
London Marathon hotels: our top pick
Our suggestion would be to stay in the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. Perfectly positioned for views over the river and houses of parliament for mile 26 of the 26.2 mile race. For runners, hobbling home is made easy and for spectators, there’s the option to watch the race from your room’s private terrace or simply stroll across the bridge to where you can smell the sweat.
After the race you can make full use of the 700sqm Mandara Spa, which does its best to bring Bali to Britain. Balinese elements can be found throughout, from the black stone water fountain to the giant bamboo ‘forest’. The spa offers a wide range of therapies and the inviting swimming pool is ideal for a post-race cool down.
Zurich Marató de Barcelona[caption id="attachment_10969" align="aligncenter" width="1065"] Zurich Marató de Barcelona[/caption]
Thinking of heading to warmer climes for your next marathon? Then Barcelona is the ideal choice for athletes as the Mediterranean city offers the perfect combination of spring sunshine and running. The urban circuit passes through all of Barcelona’s famous landmarks including some pretty sea-front views.
The route tends to alter every year but always finds a way to showcase the best the city has to offer including the works of legendary local architect Antonin Gaudi. With live bands lining the route and more than 10,000 fellow runners the day is sure to give you a lift.
Barcelona Marathon hotels: our top pick
We recommend staying in the SB Plaza Icaria. Located between the main attractions and the beaches, it’s situated on the 21 mile mark – just when the race is getting super intense. There’s no better place to have your family or friends waiting to pick you up and send you on your way again.
BMW Berlin Marathon[caption id="attachment_10970" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Marathon de Berlin © SCC Events Petko Beier[/caption]
Known as the fastest course in the world, the Berlin marathon is incredibly flat and a key race for any serious marathon runner looking to get a personal best. The crowds are large and enthusiastic and the free beer at the finish line is a welcome refreshment.
One of the highlights of the race is running through the Brandenburg Gate to the east of the city, where you’ll also pass along the Berlin Wall. Research shows that you’ll hit your runners ‘wall’ at the same time as you run past the Berlin Wall, so use some of the messages of hope scrawled on the side of it as inspiration to spur you onwards.
Berlin Marathon hotels: our top pick
Roll out of bed and straight on to the start line from the Adlon Kempinski Hotel. It’s definitely upmarket but there’s no better time to splurge than when you’re running 26.2 miles. Located outside the Brandenburg Gate, the hotel is iconic in Berlin and includes all the luxury trappings you’d expect from a five star hotel.
The luxury spa includes an indoor pool and sauna area, perfect for chasing away post-marathon stiffness. Book yourself in for a Swedish, Thai or Indian head massage pre or post-race, to get your head in the game or to regain the use of your limbs.
Edinburgh Marathon Festival[caption id="attachment_10982" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Edinburgh Marathon | Photo by Malcolm Murdoch (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]
The Edinburgh marathon festival is the biggest running event in the UK and also billed as the fastest UK marathon. The crowds come out in force and the route is surprisingly flat taking in most of what this historic city has to offer.
The marathon tends to sell out every year so you have to be quick with your entry. Over 29,000 people take part in the festival and the atmosphere is one of great celebration. The course for the Edinburgh marathon heads east out of the city and loops back for the last 8 miles or so.
Edinburgh Marathon hotels: our top pick
The marathon organisers put on a bus service to shuttle marathoners back into the city once the race has finished. Therefore if you want to stay close to the action, the city attractions and the start line we would suggest booking a room at The George.
Located in the newer Georgian side of Edinburgh, The George is perfectly located to explore the town, including walking across the valley to Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. Book yourself in for an extravagant Sunday roast in the cosy and chic Printing Press to celebrate your achievement.
Schneider Electric Paris Marathon[caption id="attachment_10981" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Paris Marathon | Guilhem Vellut (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
Starting and finishing at the Arc de Triomphe, this is a superbly organised race that takes in all the spectacular sights of Paris. Some areas of the course are quieter with less spectators but many runners find this time useful to regroup their thoughts and focus without the pressure of the crowd. The course is mainly flat with only a few slight inclines, including in and out of the tunnels.
One of the surprising statistics to come out of this year’s Paris marathon is that it was 75% male, so it’s definitely an opportunity for women to get involved and even out the score! Paris is a race known for having brilliant pacers so if you are looking to hit a certain time, the pacers will make sure you get there.
Paris Marathon hotels: our top pick
Stay just minutes from the Champs Elysées at the Marignan Champs Elysées Hotel a luxurious design hotel with deep stone baths, balconies with tremendous views and inviting king-size beds. Book a terrace suite and enjoy the opportunity to bask in the sun or dine in the evening with the lit Eiffel tower in the background.
Restaurant Nubé is a classic dining experience serving organic and wholesome food – perfect for a post-run pick-me-up. The American Breakfast is also well worth treating yourself to, with plenty of protein and carbs to set you and your spectators up for the rest of the day.
TCS Amsterdam Marathon[caption id="attachment_10976" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] TCS Amsterdam Marathon[/caption]
Like most of the Netherlands landscape, the Amsterdam marathon is as flat as a pancake! The course is a double loop of the city passing through nature reserves on both sides of the River Amstel and finishing up in the 1928 Olympic Stadium. Naturally there’s plenty of running alongside the river and canals to keep you cool and to help you enjoy the scenery.
The run takes place at the same time as other runs such as the half marathon and a 10 km, so there’s the potential to get a big group involved and everyone can run the distance that suits them.
Amsterdam Marathon hotels: our top pick
We’d recommend staying at the Hotel JL No.76, which is a 10 to 15 minute walk from the start/finish line and perfect for your spectators to cheer you on for the last mile or so. The hotel is also ideally located for visiting the popular museum and gallery district, plus some of the posher shopping areas.
This quirky design hotel strikes exactly the right balance between luxury and a cool Amsterdam vibe. Every room comes with THE SPA COLLECTION amenities, iPod docking station, flat screen TV and DVD player. All the bathrooms feature a rain dance shower – that’s if you are still able to dance after running a marathon!
Signed up for a marathon? Let us know which one you’re doing in the comments below!