Duncan Mackay
Philip BarkerIt was previous International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge who first made a point of staying at least one night in the Athletes' Village during the Olympic Games.

It is an honour usually reserved for the athletes, so Glasgow 2014's invitation to be among the first occupants before the competitors of the Commonwealth arrive was too good an opportunity to miss.

We headed for Dalmarnock in the East End of Glasgow, to see  exactly where where Usain Bolt and co  will rub shoulders with lawn bowlers from the Norfolk Islands, rugby players from Sri Lanka and netballers from Malawi .

"Some of these people really are stars - even to the other athletes," said Glasgow 2014 Athletes representative and former Scotland hockey star Rhona Simpson.

The Games Village stretches over 35 hectares and will be home to 6,500 athletes and officials over the next two-and-a-half weeks. Each accommodation block is fitted with solar panels, which it must be said, seemed the height of optimism as heavy rain fell to greet our arrival.

The first number of the Village Voice -The Wee newspaper for a great Games offered advice on the notoriously capricious weather. "One thumb up and one thumb down." Not quite as scientific a forecast as that from the Meteorological Office perhaps, but it just about summed up our day here.

It is the one thing that Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg can do nothing about, though he might care to recall that the weeks leading up to London 2012 were every bit as unpromising. Then, as if by magic, the clouds rolled away for almost the entire Olympic fortnight. In fact within a few hours the sun was finally putting those solar panels to good use. The flags of the 71 teams due to compete in the Commonwealth Games, which open on July 23, were billowing in a gentle breeze on a summer evening and the village suddenly became a very pleasant place to be.

It is within walking distance of Celtic Park, the venue for the Opening Ceremony of these Games. Celtic football supporters call their ground "Paradise". Commonwealth Games competitors may soon be singing the praises of their new, but temporary, home in similar vein. For ease of navigation the residential zone is split into Castle, Clan, Loch and Mountain quarters. The names have been chosen to give the village a Scottish flavour.

Glasgow City Council Deputy Leader Archie Graham has called the Village "A huge transformation".

More than 6,500 athletes and officials will stay in the Athletes' Village during Glasgow 2014 ©Glasgow 2014More than 6,500 athletes and officials will stay in the Athletes' Village during Glasgow 2014 ©Glasgow 2014

Here they've made a point of keeping the buildings very low level, most are a maximum two storeys. Each block has bathrooms with walk-in shower and there is a communal room for watching television .Many of the fixtures and fittings will look familiar to those who took part in London 2012 - Glasgow took over much of the furniture. For the time being none of the apartments in this Village have kitchens. These will be "retro-fitted" when the athletes have moved out. The Village will then be converted into 700 new homes. Three hundred of them will be privately sold, 300 will be affordable housing and the remainder will be made available in what is described as "mid-market" rental. Graham claims reservations for the properties post Games have already "exceeded all expectations".

They have all been built with accessibility in mind. One area has been specifically adapted to the needs of the elite athletes with a disablity competitors. It will later be used as a care home for the elderly.

Grevemberg  believes the Village will have a "combination of breathing space, state of the art facilities and a warm welcome".

The beds were comfortable and the rooms airy and clean. Everyone I spoke to enjoyed a good nights sleep. Some  like Mr Bolt might need a longer bed and that, we were assured, can be provided.

The advance parties for the first teams are preparing for their arrival so this was a last chance for organisers to iron out the last few snags. If any remain during the Games, they'll be ironed out by the Village Chieftains. Their identities will be revealed next week. In other Games, they have been known as Village Mayors. They will be the contact point for team leaders and will hold regular meetings to solve any problems at 8am sharp each morning.

There's one Village department which would be quite happy if they did not have anything to do during the Games. The Polyclinic offers 11 different medical services. They've recruited some 1,400 medical specialists from across the United Kingdom, many of them volunteers. They also have a hotline to  National Health experts so they can get early warning of any infections or contagious illnesses.

Medical chief Liz Mendl is well aware of the peculiar demands of her patients. Her clinic includes the almost obligatory ice baths but also offers physiotherapy and massage services. "We will try to offer the best possible advice,knowing that they want to compete," she said. 

More than 2,000 athletes can be accommodated at any one time in the massive dining hall at the Commonwealth Games Village ©Glasgow 2014More than 2,000 athletes can be accommodated at any one time in the massive dining hall at the Commonwealth Games Village ©Glasgow 2014

The Clyde, the great river which runs through the city, passes by the back door and those athletes so inclined can take a riverside run.If that makes them a little peckish,  the main dining room can take care of almost every need. More than 2,000 people can be seated at any one time in a temporary structure which is over twice the size of an Olympic swimming pool.

Breakfast is expected to be the busiest time of the day. Our choices included cereal, yoghurts, a range of fruits, pastries and cakes and the full "Scottish breakfast" with everything from sausages, bacon, eggs to black pudding. Staff assured me that the great Scottish delicacy haggis will definitely be on the menu  during the Games. The 150 chefs are somehow producing 2,000 different items, so they'll have to work to keep the menu interesting. They can also knock up a birthday cake to order. In 1970 the chefs in Edinburgh produced a special light cake for hurdler David Hemery, who celebrated his 26th birthday with gold in the 110 metres hurdles that same day.

Hot choices include spicy kitchen, Halal food, pizza and pasta, a deli, classic meals from Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. There's even a special gluten free toasting station. By the time the Games are over, organisers estimate the small matter of 400,000 meals will have been prepared. That is to say nothing of the grab'n go options available for athletes in a hurry.

Liquid refreshment is available next door at the Village bar. Organisers even ran a competition to find a name.

The winning entry came from former Scotland and Great Britain hammer thrower Shirley Addison. "Its a nod to the 19th hole in Golf which is the bar," she said. "Athletics tracks and swimming pools usually have eight lanes. I very much hope The 9th Lane will be a place for athletes to celebrate their successes, pick themselves up from disappointments and most importantly be a place where lifelong friendships are formed."

The "9th Lane" - the name for the bar in the Athletes' Village - is sure to become a focal point during the Commonwealth Games ©Glasgow 2014The "9th Lane" - the name for the bar in the Athletes' Village - is sure to become a focal point during the Commonwealth Games ©Glasgow 2014

Musical entertainment will be a big part of the Village vibe and on the night we were there, the Cairn String Quartet, an all female ensemble formed of students from the Royal Glasgow Conservatoire, played Katy Perry's hit "Firework" as you've surely never heard it before. The Village social programme will also include a Ceilidh, a traditional Scottish musical celebration. There are dance simulators for those who wish to polish up their moves before hitting the disco. A golf simulator is also set to help athletes find their range.

It is all a far cry from the first British Empire Games held in Hamilton in 1930. Back then competitors were housed in dormitory style rooms in the Prince of Wales School, Hamilton, Ontario, "a beautiful modern three storey building" it was claimed. Organisers boasted that the dining hall had room for 200, a tenth of the number they can accommodate today. 

Hamilton officials boasted "arrangements are so complete that a postal substation has been installed for the use of the athletes." Communication has moved along a bit since then.In Glasgow, Tablets and laptops will be available for loan. In fact the entire Village could be described as a wifi hotspot.

Some of the other statistics are mindblowing. The Village is 35 hectares, the size of 54 football pitches, and it will house 6,500 occupants who will get through 26,000 bed sheets and 12,000 pillowcases during the Games. They will be served by a workforce of 2,000.

The Athletes' Village for Glasgow 2014 will cover 35 hectares, the size of 54 football pitches ©Glasgow 2014The Athletes' Village for Glasgow 2014 will cover 35 hectares, the size of 54 football pitches ©Glasgow 2014

In 1970, when the Games were first held in Scotland, it had originally been planned to use the Redford Military Barracks but when these were unavailable, Edinburgh University halls of residence were pressed into service. Back then, the last word in fashion was the Village hairdresser. Now athletes are no longer content with national colours on uniforms alone but want them on their finger nails too.The idea proved a big hit at London 2012, so the nail bar  will have a palate of all the participating teams . Expect the host nation's saltire to be particularly popular. More intricate designs, such as the flag of Fiji, will test the skill of the nail painters.

Meanwhile,  2014 mascot Clyde has been limbering up for  a big race on the Village green on July 28. He is rumoured to have a secret training regime and  claims  "my mate Usain usually pops over to do some light sprinting". Race opponents are expected to include 2012 Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville, who might well prove easier to beat.

Philip Barker has worked as a television journalist for 25 years. He began his career with Trans World Sport, then as a reporter for Skysports News and the ITV breakfast programme. A regular Olympic pundit on BBC Radio, Sky News and Talksport, he is associate editor of the Journal of Olympic History, has lectured at the National Olympic Academy and contributed extensively to Team GB publications. His latest book, Lord's First: 200 Years of Making History at Lord's Cricket Ground, has recently been published. To follow him on Twitter click here.