Photo courtesy Clayton Hotel Cambridge
Looking for somewhere special to stay when in England? Travel writer Maria Fedele shares these smart choices on our list of the best luxury hotels in Cambridge.
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Just shy of an hour by train from Central London, Cambridge is an enchanting haven that seems far removed from the chaos of the big city. It’s a destination rich in history and that famous ‘old English’ charm and is renowned for its world-class universities.
The likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and 13 British Prime Ministers studied within the perimeters of this Cambridgeshire town, where the grand buildings date back to the 12th century and punting on the River Cam is the pastime of choice. British poet Sophie Hannah once famously described Cambridge as “heaven… it is the nicest place in the world to live. As you walk round, most people look incredibly bright, as if they are probably off to win a Nobel Prize.”
However, you need not be a student to enjoy the bohemian lifestyle here. Cambridge has an extensive range of accommodation to suit everyone, from quintessentially English townhouses, quaint cottages, romantic luxury hotels, and luxury vacation homes for rent, which all equally reflect the city’s tranquillity and charm.
Let our list of the best luxury hotels in Cambridge be your guide to finding the perfect hideout during your visit to this beautiful city.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Cambridge
Clayton Hotel Cambridge
Situated a stones-throw from the city’s main train station, the 4-star Clayton Hotel Cambridge is one of the newest accommodation options in the city. This chic luxury hotel boasts 155 classy rooms and suites, with lashings of regal red and deep mahogany furniture, fine bone china adornments, lavish lighting fixtures, and plush carpets.
The rooms are also decorated with personalized furnishings, including large ornate king size beds and marble bathrooms with splashing’s of intense blues and egg-shell greys. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide an ample amount of natural light, some with great views of the city and its surrounds.
From the lobby, guests have the option of four dining choices. The sophisticated library has the ambiance of a private lounge with deep-seated leather armchairs, an open fireplace, overflowing bookcases, and comfortable lounges. Whereas the Colonial-style Garden Room located on the terrace caters for afternoon tea, light lunches, and drinks.
For a hearty meal, the main restaurant serves locally sourced, classic English fare in a lovely, casual setting. The impressive horseshoe shaped marble Cocktail Bar serves up delicious innovative cocktails, fine wines, and local beers.
Riley Recommends: For reviews, rates, reservations, and further details, visit Clayton Hotel Cambridge
University Arms Cambridge, Autograph Collection
Built in 1834, the University Arms, located alongside the open space of Parkers Piece, is one of the city’s oldest, with the building itself being one of the most historically significant in the city. Over the years, it has undergone several refurbishments, but the latest transformation, completed in 2018, is the most prodigious and has cemented the hotel’s reputation as one of the best luxury hotels in Cambridge.
Architect John Simpson and interior designer Martin Brundnizki collaborated to revamp the hotel into a sprawling complex including 192 rooms and suites, a restaurant, bar, gym, library, and conference facilities. The striking neo-classical exterior is congruent with the traditional architecture of Cambridge and designed to reflect the literary heritage of the city. The interior is framed by high ceilings, grand lofty spaces, ornate light fixtures, and a dramatic combination of dark timber, plush velvet, and rich leather.
The ground floor Parker’s Tavern, which can seat over 100 people, serves up traditional English dishes from Cambridgeshire-born chef Tristan Welch. Welch serves up delicious, no-fuss food cooked with locally sourced and season ingredients in the lavish setting which has also been decorated to reflect the interior of a University college. Guests also have the option to purchase a picnic basket and enjoy dining al-fresco in the park opposite the hotel.
Riley Recommends: To learn more, visit the University Arms Cambridge
Hilton Cambridge City Centre
Hilton Hotels are renown for style, sophistication, and class. The Hilton Cambridge City Center is no exception, its riverside location on Downing Street within walking distance to all of Cambridge’s main attractions, particularly the famous King’s College Chapel and the Market Square.
The neo-classical 1990s façade of this classy 4-star hotel features towering columns and stately arches which frame the entrance to the grand open-plan foyer. However, by contrast, the interior is modern and chic with a vast atrium flooding the entire first floor with natural light. Guests are also able to enjoy the Bar and Lounge for refreshments, small bites, or afternoon tea, as well as the acclaimed Bull and Bass Restaurant, serving traditional hearty English fare.
All 200 of the Hilton Cambridge’s spacious rooms feature a sleek, contemporary design with neutral colours and modern amenities. You’ll also able to enjoy the onsite gym, meeting / business facilities, room service, and buffet breakfast. When booking the executive suites, you’ll also be treated to unlimited drinks, canapés and snacks at no extra cost.
Riley Recommends: For reviews, rates, reservations and more information, visit the Hilton Cambridge City Centre
Hotel du Vin Cambridge
Hotel du Vin Cambridge is an authentic part of the city’s rich past. Formerly university quarters, this grand Georgian building has been masterfully remodelled into a boutique hotel and bistro. Perfectly nestled along a cobble-stone street within close proximity to the city’s most famous landmarks, the hotel faces the Fitzwilliam Museum which houses an impressive collection of arts and antiques.
Inside is a maze of staircases, hallways, hidden alcoves and dimly lit corners interspersed with intricate paintings, exposed brickwork, and the occasional fireplace. The 41 rooms and suites are laced with character and named after various winemakers and champagne houses, an ode to the hotel’s well-stocked Cellar Bar. The Krug suite is a stand-out with its own mini cinema, private terrace, original fireplace, and king bed.
The hotel’s acclaimed Bistro serves divine French cuisine in a relaxed, elegant setting, and the underground cellar bar has an exceptional range of wines. Private dinning is also available as is a buffet-style breakfast and 24 hour room service.
Riley Recommends: For reviews, rates, reservations, and more information, visit Hotel du Vin Cambridge
Quy Mill Hotel & Spa
The 4-star award-winning Quy Mill Hotel and Spa is a former historic watermill converted into a luxury, stylish haven on the outskirts of Cambridge. Surrounded by five acres of pristine gardens, the historic building has been masterfully redesigned to include 51 rooms, a restaurant, lounge, bar, health spa, indoor swimming pool, and is also accommodating to weddings and large events.
The rooms, which are spread through the main house and across the courtyard in the converted barn, are elegantly decorated and tastefully designed for upmost comfort. Each have large beds, including some with four-poster beds and garden views, as well as stylish en-suite bathrooms, and generous lounge/sitting areas.
The Mill House Restaurant is housed in the original Miller’s House and has been refurbished to incorporate both formal and casual dining areas, as well as a large outdoor terrace with views of the expansive gardens and the Mill Race River. Food is prepared to a high-standard with ingredients being locally sourced and the bar stocked with over 50 varieties of malt whiskey, as well as wines and Cask Marque real ales.
Riley Recommends: For reviews, rates, and reservation details, visit the Quy Mill Hotel & Spa
Like many of the grand historical buildings in Cambridge, the Gonville Hotel was built in the early 1800s by Gonville & Caius College as a house for one of its Senior Fellows. Since 1972, when it was opened as a hotel, it has undergone several renovations to forge a stylish, sleek establishment with 73 fitted-out bedrooms, two dining areas, and a bar.
The neutral colour palette in the rooms creates a relaxed, comfortable aura whereas the virtual concierge service, provided through iPads in every room, is a creative and modern touch. The iPads can also be used to order room service and access information about the city. You can also choose their own pillow from the pillow menu and each room includes a desk, king-size bed, and lounge.
Additional luxuries also include the use of the hotels Bentley S1 and bicycles, which are both available free of charge for guests. The vast lobby opens up to the conservatory Atrium bar where free jazz concerts are held on Friday and Saturday nights. The Atrium caters for relaxed, intimate dining with a menu loaded with traditional British pub dishes. The nearby bar has an extensive and creative cocktail menu as well as an impressive selection of gins.
For fine-dining, guests and visitors are spoiled for choice at the hotel’s wildly celebrated terrace Restaurant. The menu has been crafted to offer a selection of beautifully prepared food in a modern, elegant setting.
Riley Recommends: For reviews, rates, reservations, and further details, visit Gonville Hotel
The Varsity Hotel & Spa
The Varsity Hotel & Spa is a luxury boutique hotel located in the historical heart of Cambridge with views onto Kings College Chapel, Trinity and St John’s College. Built in 2010, the hotel is modern and comprises of 48 individually crafted rooms which all draw upon the academic theme of the city.
The ample rooms, which are named after different Cambridge colleges, all feature floor-to-ceiling windows, contemporary furniture, and sleek bathrooms. Some rooms open up to a wooden decked area where guests are able to enjoy unparalleled views across the city. Neutral tones are offset by splashes of colour in the patterned wallpaper, plush furniture, and striking artwork.
The hotel’s restaurant and spa are housed in a former 17th century brewery. The River Bar restaurant is a steakhouse and grill which serves up generous portions of hearty food in a relaxed setting with panoramic views of the river. The Glassworks spa offers a wide range of treatments to guests including day packages, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, studio classes, and a fully-equipped gym, all in a peaceful setting with views overlooking the River Cam.
The focal point of the Varsity Hotel is the rooftop terrace which opens up to 360 degree views across Cambridge. The terrace also features a restaurant and bar, serving up delectable cocktails and superb dishes with a trendy, chic ambiance.
Riley Recommends: To learn more, visit The Varsity Hotel and Spa
Contributor Maria Fedele is an adventurous traveller and freelance writer from South Australia who has lived in Paris and London.
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