Having studied at Oxford, there are few things I’ll admit to liking about rival town Cambridge. The Varsity Hotel & Spa, however, is one of the great things that I’ll happily own up to! The riverside hotel is pretty First Class in many ways – chic boutique meets classic Cambridge to fabulous effect.
Firstly: Location. Centrally located (though sadly with no car parking nearby), Cambridge’s tourist hotspots are within easy walking distance, and you can even pick up a punt just outside.
The Varsity is home to Glassworks, a high-end fitness and wellness centre in a Conran-designed building. There’s an Elemis spa, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna for if you want to be pampered, plus a well-equipped gym in a gorgeous high-ceilinged space, that we made full use of during our stay.
The hotel restaurant is the River Bar Steakhouse & Grill. Located on the quayside, it affords brilliant river views as you dine, and specialises in fine steaks and Sunday lunch, and a full hotel breakfast (both buffet and à la carte).
Hope that the weather holds out so that you can venture up to the roof terrace for stunning 360-degree views of the city – the unrivalled vista really is a huge perk of being a Varsity guest. Weather-permitting there’s a rooftop bar too.
The hotel décor is striking without being over-the-top – it takes the old fashioned university style and gives it a modern twist. The Master’s Penthouse Suite on the sixth floor is artfully decorated – with two walls of glass plus a huge four-poster, you can drink in the view without leaving the bed!
When booking, try to get a room on as high a floor as possible, preferably on the east side of the building, for the best views. The cheapest rooms, Graduate Doubles, are small but perfectly formed – fine for a quick city break, and with a very comfy bed!
Best coffee in Cambridge? Hot Numbers – even my coffee shop-owning boyfriend was impressed by this one.
Hotly-tipped Espresso Library literally just opened too – I’ll definitely be stopping by on my next visit.
Or if you’re more concerned with cake, head to Fitzbillies – decent coffee and famed Chelsea buns.
Casual dining saviours come in the form of Bread & Meat for fine roast meat sandwiches…
And Cambridge Chop House for traditional no-nonsense British fare.
If you fancy going upmarket, check out Alimentum and it’s Michelin star…
Or bright and breezy, all-organic Cotto.
The Varsity Hotel & Spa
Thompson’s Lane, Cambridge, CB5 8AQ