Hotel Review: A Historic Cambridge Hotel, University Arms
This classic British hotel is the perfect base for a weekend in Cambridge
Steeped in history, the University Arms has been a hotel since 1834 and more recently, the property has been re-envisioned by architect John Simpson and interior designer Martin Brudnizki in 2018. Felicity Carter stays at this historic university city hotel.
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Hotel Review: University Arms Cambridge
Set on the edge of Parker’s Piece green is the University Arms Cambridge, originally built as a coaching inn back in 1834. It has been a hospitality hotspot ever since, and in 2018 the property underwent an £80m renovation by classical architect John Simpson (whose portfolio includes Peterhouse, Gonville and Caius Colleges and Buckingham and Kensington Palaces) with interiors by Martin Brudnizki. Appealing to tourists and locals alike, along with guest rooms and suites, there are spa treatment rooms, a gym, event space and Parker’s Tavern, a quintessential all-day British brasserie.
The University Arms is home to three guest room types: cosy, classic and superior which sit alongside the suites that are named after famed Cambridge-affiliated authors and alumni. Spacious and filled with natural light, each suite reflects the said namesake personality with décor that channels the heritage of the building and vicinity. Expect leather-padded writing desks, leather picked ottomans, and of course book filled shelves from prestigious bookshop Heywood Hill of Mayfair. You’ll also notice hints of Cambridge blue, yellow and red in ode to its home city. All the suites offer a large seating area with complimentary wines, along with a walk-in rain shower and a large claw-foot bathtub, with toiletries by British apothecary and perfumer, D R Harris. For suites situated on the top floor, many offer access to private balconies overlooking Parker’s Piece with the bathrooms located inside the original domed turrets.
Kick back and relax in the hotel courtesy of the spa treatment rooms. Available to both staying and non-staying guests, there’s a menu of treatments for men and women, from Intensive Muscle Release, Immune Support and Relax and Sleep massages to Aroma Polish scrubs and the Ultimate Aromatherapy Facial; all of which incorporate products from luxury British brand, Aromatherapy Associates.
For those wanting to explore the historic city of Cambridge, take a stroll through the colleges, visit the imposing The Fitzwilliam Museum that specialises in art and antiquities, and stop off at the traditional pubs such as The Eagle, which dates to the 14th century, making it the oldest pub in Cambridge, or one of the many independent coffee or book shops. Of course, punting is a must and there are a variety of options from tours including shared, private, and even private with a picnic supplied it’s an ideal way to see the ‘college backs’.
Set within the hotel is the all-day British brasserie, Parker’s Tavern and here the focus is on locally sourced, fresh, seasonal ingredients. At the helm of the kitchen is chef Tristan Welch, who proudly incorporates East Anglian produce and dishes onto the menu, cue local smoked salmon, steaks accompanied by Cambridge sauce (a type of mustard mayonnaise) and to finish, the citrus Cambridge Tart.
Next to the brasserie is the specious yet cosy bar that is open from 11am till late. Offering inventive cocktails along with a curated wine selection (it has a well-stocked wine cellar) it’s a great spot for an aperitivo or a nightcap.
The University Arms is brimming with heritage, a quintessential English hotel fit for a historic city. The property exudes the scholarly spirit of Cambridge, and makes the ideal base for exploring.
Rates from £204 per room per night. Suites start from £419. universityarms.com
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