David Beckham Gives a Sneak Peek at His First Hotel, The Londoner Macao

England’s former soccer captain — and one of the most recognizable faces on the planet — David Beckham has unveiled plans for an unexpected career shift: “Golden Balls” is taking a swing at hotels.

Beckham, 44, has unveiled plans for his first property, an ambitious, London-themed hotel in Macao, in conjunction with Sands. Scheduled to open in 2020, The Londoner will feature concept suites designed by Mr. Posh Spice himself, as well as two floors dedicated to bespoke suiting.

Travel + Leisure sat down for an exclusive chat with the sports star about his hopes for the new project, as well as his travel blind spots, the contents of his carry on, and his golden packing rule.

Travel + Leisure: What can we expect for your first hotel, The Londoner Macao?

David Beckham: “The one thing I can definitely promise is amazing service. For me, when I stay in a hotel it’s those little invisible touches that make all the difference: things like remembering your coffee order, or what newspaper you like to read in the morning. Attention to detail is what makes a hotel stay special and memorable, so that’s super important to me with The Londoner.”

Are there any specific aspects of London style that you’re applying to the property?

“London is my hometown, so to be able to bring some of the things I love from there to Macao – that sense of energy, humor, and attitude in the furniture and artwork — is a great feeling. We’re going to have everything from our iconic black cabs outside to mini-recreations of some of London’s most famous streets inside, like Bond Street and Savile Row.”

Does the theme stretch to food? Are bubble and squeak and toad in the hole going to be on the menu?

“We’re actually building a British gastro-pub on site, to be run by my friend Gordon Ramsay, which is really exciting. Proper Sunday roasts will definitely be on the menu, as will my all-time favorite: traditional pie and mash. Not to everyone’s taste, but absolutely incredible when it’s done properly.”

What appeals about Macao as a destination?

“I’ve been out there a few times now, working with Sands on this project, and it’s always a really unique experience. You have these incredible state-of-the-art hotels, but I also really love the old Portuguese quarter. It’s a real melting pot: the variety of restaurants alone is amazing; you can have pretty much any type of cuisine you like. I love that diversity, especially in such a small place.”

Aside from Macao or the UK, what’s your favorite country to visit for vacation?

“That’s a hard one. I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot; I played football all over the world and now I get to travel for business. My family and I just spent an incredible summer in Italy — we were in Puglia which was amazing. Italy will always have a special place in my heart as it’s one of the first places Victoria and I traveled to as a couple.”

What’s your number one travel tip?

“The two-day packing rule! I always get my luggage out at least 48 hours before traveling: I like to plan in advance which clothes I’m going to need for each trip. Knowing the packing has been done properly also helps me to relax into the trip as soon as I get onto the plane. The secret to getting into holiday mode as soon as you possibly can is to do your packing in advance.”

What do you always take with you on the airplane?

“I always pack a small moisturizer containing quinoa and spirulina. It’s really important to keep your skin hydrated at altitude, so that’s always next to my passport in my hand luggage.”

How do you tackle jet lag?

“Honestly, the only thing that works for me is to sleep and eat at the right times. As soon as I get onto a plane I persuade myself into the time zone of my destination, wherever that is, and synch to those mealtimes. That and always try to sleep on the plane, no matter how long the flight is.”

Finally, where would you love to go that you’ve never been before?

“Believe it or not, I’ve never been to India at all, and that’s definitely on my bucket list. The Taj Mahal in particular would be amazing to see in person, but I’m also fascinated by the Indian people, the culture and, of course, the food. The whole country just looks incredible. I’m very excited to check it out one day.”

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