Well, it’s safe to say we loved Cambridge. We visited this iconic city earlier this month and it was the perfect pre-Christmas mini break. The University Arms Hotel ticked all the boxes for us… From being greeted by charming porters to the beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the lobby, log fires, a library (full to the brim and all hand-picked) and totally baby friendly (without being obvious about it). Just a few minutes walk away from the university colleges, the river, market square and pretty cobbled streets lined with some great little shops and cafes, this was the perfect base for a festive 24 hours.
Yes, this Mini Guide is on Cambridge, but it was really the University Arms Hotel that made the trip. Just earlier this year the hotel finished a four-year renovation project where it was totally restored, revamped and reinvented – yet it still felt as though it had always been there – which effectively it has – well, there’s been a hotel on this corner of Parker’s Piece since 1834.
Undeniably British. And totally encompassing of the University that wraps itself around the city. From a library filled with books carefully curated by Mayfair bookshop Heywood Hill – complete with a roaring log fire to corridor carpets that are in fact oversized patterns of the university’s tie. The canteen-style layout of the restaurant to the desks in the rooms, and the paintings, photographs, illustrations that cover the hotel’s walls – It’s playful, stylish and really quite quirky.
Our favourite: A portrait of Winston Churchill looming behind the concierge, oh and the parquet flooring.
Regardless of whether you opt for a Cosy, Classic, Superior or Suite, the hotel cleverly makes each room reach the same high standard as the next. Think: all the little quirks such as hand-picked books, super-fast WiFi, gorgeous linen and underfloor heating in the bathrooms (that are to die for by the way).
We stayed in one of the suites. To put it simply – it was stunning and totally faultless. The bathroom was something else… Black tiled floor, white tiled walls, a claw foot bath with gold taps, a waterfall shower, I could go on and on.
Take the hotel’s bicycles (painted Cambridge blue, of course) out for a spin, make your own gin at the Cambridge Gin Lab, visit the stunning Kettle’s Yard (and leave wanting to recreate your own home to match), or take a tour of the University. Then there’s the punting on the River Cam – we went on a wet December day, so weren’t tempted – But give us a pole and a punt any sunny day!
Parker’s Tavern has been deliberately marketed as a restaurant located within a hotel, rather than a hotel restaurant. This has instantly made it instantly more attractive to non-residents and has insured Parker’s to be a vibrant, bustling venue. The dining experience flows seamlessly through the heart of the hotel, cleverly utilising three rooms as one. The smart yet fun deco interior makes for the perfect setting to sample its exciting modern menu. The food is of the quality you would expect from a hotel of this standard without an ounce of stuffiness.
Lobster Macaroni is a make or break dish and Parker’s did not disappoint. Scallops were beautiful, as was the suckling piglet presented three ways. Desserts were spot on and I liked the touch of a back to school, tick-box ice cream ordering pad!
Waiting staff here know their stuff and can’t do enough to make guests feel welcome and relaxed.
Parker’s Tavern is a fantastic concept which has been brilliantly executed and a table here should be on the itinerary of any visitor to Cambridge.
Old Bicycle Shop – Almost opposite the hotel, go for the cocktails (HERE)
Harriet’s – Afternoon tea here is a must (HERE)
Fitzbillies – Great coffee, friendly staff, a buzzing bakery. Oh, and those sticky Chelsea buns…. (HERE)
WHAT TO PACK
His: Howden Jumper, £375 – Belstaff | Find it HERE
Hers: Black Swirl Slippers, €250 – Baboosha| Find it HERE
Little Ones: Baby Romper With Knots – Black Plaid, €44.80 – Piupiuchick | Find it HERE
GO TO: universityarms.com
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Inspiration/ImageCredits: thecaperberrycollective.com, universityarms.com, baboosha.com, piupiuchick.com, belstaff.co.uk