“At last! Smart chic rooms in the centre of Cambridge with a spectacular roof terrace, panoramic restaurant and a pocket spa to boot”
Never has ascending through academia seemed so appealing. The Varsity’s rooms are named after colleges, priced according to bed size, and ranked from Graduate Rooms to Senior Fellows. Sadly, price rather than talent determines where you lie on the scale, but we advise heading for the Senior Fellows Superking, or higher if you can afford it; and booking early so you can get an upper floor room. All rooms have free WiFi, large flat screen TVs, iPod docks/radios, DVD players, with use of the spa and gym also included.
Graduates Rooms, though well designed, are distinctly small, and some give more intimate views than you might like of terraced houses or the neighbouring substation. Those on the upper floors have tremendous views, which compensate for the size, so check before you book. Bathrooms are sleek, with monsoon showers and Elemis toiletries, but are otherwise uninspiring.
Fellows King Rooms are worth the extra cash for the space. Again, request an upper floor room for the views. Design here tends to be a little more exciting, with swirly wallpaper and bold colours.
Some of the Senior Fellows Superkings are truly special, with floor-to-ceiling windows, four-poster beds or free-standing baths. We lucked out on our first visit, with spectacular views from two walls of glass and a decked strip of balcony. The tea-making facilities and Illy espresso machine were a nice touch, and the abundance of space was glorious.
There are stunning views across the colleges from the Six Panoramic Bar & Restaurant on the top floor beneath the Rooftop Garden. Open all day serving pizzas, small plates and cocktails (including over 30 different gins), plus a proper afternoon tea with all the trimmings, this is a lovely spot for dining.
You get a lavish spread at breakfast. Freshly squeezed juice, good fruit salad, delicious pastries, a proper range of cereals and muesli with nuts, seeds and fruit compotes, ham, brie and quartered tomatoes for continental types. The full English is served too - bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, black sausage, eggs - and other variants at a small premium. The brick and glass River Bar Steakhouse and Grillrestaurant faces the Cam, the view of willows on the opposite bank is serene.
At night, the restaurant becomes a brasserie, when its leather banquettes and low lighting complete the steakhouse feel. Our steaks were superbly cooked - 4 different cuts are offered, with wild mushroom and port, Béarnaise, peppercorn or Roquefort sauce. There are fish dishes, too - swordfish or fishcakes - and 2 vegetarian options, and an excellent wine list.
Cambridge is overflowing with restaurants, bars and pubs serving food, so if you feel like stepping out, ask reception staff for recommendations.
Children of all ages are allowed, but this is definitely a grown-up hotel, and there are no concessions toward making children especially welcome. That said, the larger suites could easily accommodate a rollaway bed or a baby cot. Cots are available free of charge, as is a baby monitoring device.
Teens (over 12)