Right in the centre of this 800-year-old historic seat of learning, by the edge of the River Cam, and with rooms offering panoramic views out over the ancient rooftops, The Varsity Hotel & Spa is a boutique hotel a ‘degree’ better than average.
Varsity Hotel & Spa is one of the best-located boutique hotels in this wonderful city of Cambridge and is both warm and welcoming. There’s a range of rooms to suit all pockets and a remarkable roof terrace is a wonderful place for a cooling glass of Pimm’s on an English summer day.
Those looking for a fashionably urban and central hotel to explore this famous city or visit offspring studying at the town’s acclaimed university.
Each of the 48 rooms is uniquely designed and all bathrooms with underfloor heating, some with walk-in showers, baths or Victorian free-standing bath-tubs. The rooms all have air conditioning, fast internet, a smart LCD TV, with CD player, Elemis toiletries, tea and coffee making facilities and cosy bathrobes and slippers.
We luxuriated in the Senior Fellows Suite, an enormous 80 sq m space with a Super King-size bed and separate lounge area, a private terrace, and views to two sides from its floor-to-ceiling windows.
Rooms come with Gym membership and classes, as well as access to the hotel’s Sauna, Steam Room & SPA Pool.
Food & Drink
Crowning the hotel is the glass-walled SIX Brasserie, a bar and restaurant with outside seating. This last proved a bit too vertigo-inducing for one particular guest, so we went inside where the large menu is made up of modern, locally sourced food with steaks, pizzas and Asian-tinged dishes to the fore.
This is also where you have your sunny cooked breakfast or take afternoon tea. On top of the restaurant is the corner-to-corner roof terrace, open in season for sky-high drinking.
Downstairs the hotel offers the River Bar Steakhouse and Grill based in an old river warehouse where, of course, great steaks are the order of the day including connoisseur Tomahawk and Wagyu options. We liked a great Scotch egg starter, as well as an unusual dish of devilled chorizo and Yorkshire pudding.
Your car can be valet parked when you arrive, and the hotel will lend you complimentary bicycles so you can pedal around this largely pedestrianised city like a true native.
The Glassworks Health Club offers spa treatments, pilates, yoga, a sauna, a steam room and a jacuzzi.
Rooms at the Varsity Hotel and Spa start at £162 per night.
Cambridge in all its beauty. Pick up a punt for either a self-propelled or guided, tour of the Cam river to see the ‘Backs’ of six of the main colleges while gliding under the Bridge of Sighs, with a glass of champagne close to hand, of course.
The ancient colleges of King’s, Trinity, Clare and Queen’s are just a few minutes walk away, even quicker by hotel bike, and every little lane you turn down offers unusual bars, cafes and restaurants. Most colleges allow visitors and taking a guided walking tour around the City will give you guaranteed access, as well as a wealth of fascinating information to bring this beautiful City’s history to life.
Verdict: Cambridge isn’t short of hotels, but few are so central and neatly tucked away. Whether you’re visiting or catching up with student offspring, this boutique hotel with its spectacular summer roof terrace is all about staying with style and having easy access to everything.