In 2006 there were the designer boutiques and Wag-soaked bars of Baden-Baden; four years later, it was the mind-numbing tedium of Rustenburg.
The choice of England’s World Cup base is invariably a treacherous business and, on the face of it, the Football Association’s decision to locate Roy Hodgson’s squad at a four-star hotel in Rio’s São Conrado district – sandwiched between a plush country club and a mountainside shanty-town, and which was once the scene of a bloody shoot-out – appears no less fraught with problems.
The FA will hope that in choosing the Royal Tulip Hotel it has finally found the right balance.
It beat off competition from three other countries to secure the hotel – which regularly hosts Vasco da Gama, one of the country’s leading clubs – having turned down the chance to stay at the Windsor Atlantica in Copacabana.
England stayed there during their visit to Brazil in June, but the hotel was deemed unsuitable for the World Cup as the nearby beachfront is being taken over by a fanzone.
The FA’s preferred option is quieter, but hardly lacks luxury: king-size suites are £824 per night and facilities include a swimming pool, gym, restaurants, a jewellers and beauty salon spread across its 17 floors.
“We can provide everything they want,” George Durante, the general manager, said.
“We don’t have much noise and it’s a very clean beach, so they can run there if they want. It’s very calm here.”
England’s well-heeled stars will need to search hard to discover the grittier side of life in Rio, however.
While a short walk west of the hotel grounds lies the Gavea Golf and Country Club, to the north west is the Rocinha favela.
More than 70,000 people live on the hillside, which was occupied and “pacified” by police at the end of 2011 as a way of wresting control from drug gangs.
One woman was killed during the shoot-out with police.
That level of violence is rare in the generally peaceful area of São Conrado, however.
Indeed, the biggest threat to Hodgson’s players is likely to come from boredom.