Did you know that several of the countries that compete in the Olympics open up hospitality houses? The houses try to create an environment that feels like home for the athletes and their families, with everything from large screen TVs tuned to the Games, bars, local food, free phone calls back home, and nightly celebrations for the day’s winners. Typically, parts of the houses are open to the public for free or a nominal fee, while others are only available for athletes and their friends and family. The houses themselves have become a sort of competition amongst the countries as to who can top the others (yes, sort of crazy with today’s economy). Last week I blogged about my visit to Club France and this week I cover my visit to the USA House.
The USA House was located at the Royal College of Art opposite Hyde Park. Unlike the majority of the other houses, the USA House was closed to all non citizens. US citizens were allowed to present ID for entry into the Team USA Olympic Store, though access to all other areas was restricted to the athletes and their family and friends, as well as the corporate sponsors. I was eventually able to talk a few USOC members into granting me media access into the USA House (using my Boarding Area credentials) and was even offered a private guided tour!
Welcome to the USA House
Team USA Olympic Store – The USOC Team USA Olympic Store Manager mentioned an impressive 130% increase over sales at the Beijing Olympics. This might be due to the Nike USA Olympic Team jacket found in pictures 3 and 4, priced at $450 USD and completely sold out in all sizes but XXL. “The ultra-reflective shell makes you visible even under subtle lights”, we tested this by turning off the lights and snapping a picture in the XXL, it really did glow in white light but at $450 it was a pass for me…
Coca-Cola Courtyard – An outdoor “tropical themed coca-cola thirst quenching chill area”
Bud Deck - My favorite part of the USA House, a top floor Bud Deck with great views, ample seats, and an open bar of Budweiser, Bud Light, and wine.
Main Hospitality Area -
So, was it Club France, not really. What house could live up to french catering each night, a private wine sommelier, live music, a nightly DJ set, VIP lounge bottle service, and an amazing view of Tower Bridge? However, besides the restrictive access policy, I really liked the USA House. The food was very good, everyone was extremely friendly, and I guess I might have been a little partial to the team! The Bud Deck was fantastic for enjoying the view and weather, while still cheering for Team USA on several flat screens that were set up. Up next, a quick review of houses from Belgium, Brazil, and Denmark.