By Greg Stobart
When it comes to planning a base for major tournaments, England could be world champions.
The FA rarely holds back on offering the players and their families luxury surroundings in which to prepare for their customary quarter-final exit.
In 2006, under Sven Goran-Eriksson, they opted for the chic pastures of Baden-Baden, where the rampant shopping of Victoria Beckham and her fellow Wags attracted more attention than anything the players could do.
Four years later, it was the five-star Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus in Rustenburg but its isolated location left players bored, stifled and distanced from the vibrancy of the tournament in South Africa.
Roy Hodgson wants his players much closer to the heart of things. That was the case as the squad stayed in Krakow in Poland during Euro 2012 and will be again during the World Cup next summer.
The England manager can concentrate on finalising his squad for Brazil safe in the knowledge that the meticulous off-pitch preparations are on course - not something that can be said for plenty of rival national teams.
England's preferred hotel was the Windsor Atlantica, having stayed in the towering hotel that dominates the skyline of the famous Copacabana beach during their visit to Rio de Janeiro for a friendly against Brazil in June. Yet that idea was scuppered when the FA learned of the enormous fanzone to be based on the Avenida Atlantica on the beach.
They instead turned to the five-star Royal Tulip Hotel on Sao Conrado beach. The 418-room hotel does not, at the moment, offer the luxury to which Wayne Rooney and Co. are accustomed, with the £180-a-night hotel ranked low on travel website Tripadvisor and described as 'run down' by some guests.
The FA is assured, however, that the multi-million-pound refurbishment of England's designated section of the hotel will be complete by the time that the Three Lions arrive in town.
Rest and relaxation | There's plenty of space for the Three Lions to recuperate (The Royal Tulip, Rio)
Big breakfast | The queue for the toaster will be something to behold (The Royal Tulip, Rio)
Spacious accommodation | You could get three people in that bed (The Royal Tulip, Rio)
Room with a view | England's stars may need to pull the blinds down (The Royal Tulip, Rio)
There are further concerns. The players will, of course, get their own protection but may be denied some of the privacy that they crave; the new location is slightly further out of town and means a daily struggle through the notorious Rio traffic to reach the training facilities at the Urca military base.
England bagged the picturesque location - which sits on the Atlantic under the breathtaking shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain - ahead of several other countries. Indeed, the training facilities were the major concern for the FA after Hodgson made scouting trips to Rio earlier in the year and checked out the facilities used by local clubs Flamengo, Fluminense and Botafogo.
The training pitches were in poor condition when England trained there in June but the FA will send its own groundsmen out to Brazil to make sure that everything is in perfect shape once the players arrive.
The Urca base will, by definition, be well guarded, although screens will be erected to protect against prying eyes and long-lens cameras, not least from passing boats.
Mountain to climb | England players train in Brazil earlier this year (Getty)
Bumpy | The pitches will need fixing up, though (Getty)
Top secret | An aerial view of the Urca military base (Getty)
The draw on December 6 will cause a mad rush to fill in the gaps when it comes to accommodation and travel for matches in a country that provides logistical difficulties due to its sheer size.
Everything else, though, is almost ready. After a farewell friendly at Wembley on June 7, Hodgson's men will fly to USA for a friendly against Jurgen Klinsmann's side before travelling to Florida for a pre-tournament training camp. A final warm-up game will be played at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami before they fly down to Brazil to take their temporary home at the Royal Tulip.
Whether everything will go according to plan on the pitch is another matter.
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