It might just be us, but isn’t January a bit of a slog? The mornings are dark, the jollity of the festive season has definitely waned and everything’s just a little bit flat. Unless one has a sunny holiday booked to look forward to, it’s a tough old month to claw the way through.
Thankfully there are gems like Cambridge’s University Arms to cocoon us from the harsh truths of winter. If you’re looking for a cosy, indulgent weekend escape, this might be the one.
Located in the historic heart of the city, the hotel reopened in 2018 after a serious facelift. Since opening in 1834 it’s been through several incarnations – we’ll gloss over the monstrosity that was the facade in the 60s – but architect John Simpson and interior designer Martin Brudnizki. Have remained faithful to original look and feel of the property, whilst bringing Martin’s signature English interiors; you’ll recognise his style if you’ve ever been to one of The Ivy restaurants.
The 192 rooms and suites are bedecked with bespoke leather-padded writing desks, low ottomans and tiered chandeliers in playful colours. Each of the suites, some of which occupy the top floor with balconies looking out over Parker’s Piece, have bookshelves individually curated around their subject by Mayfair’s Heywood Hill. Staying in the Darwin suite for the night, mine was resplendent with titles on nature, evolution and the British countryside, from huge coffee table Taschen tomes full of stunning botanical illustrations, to biographies from some of the world’s most eminent explorers.
It’s certainly cosy; our suite was home to an enormous velvet sofa, a little reading corner next to windows overlooking Cambridge’s famous green space Parker’s Piece and oh, the bed! King size, mountains of pillows, crisp white sheets. I bundled into it after a post-prandial bath, wrapped in the prerequisite fluffy robe, and was convinced I would never be able to get out again. The bathroom too is a stunner; underfloor heating, the most luxurious claw foot tub with its own pot of Dr Harris bath salts and his and hers sinks (the secret, my mother once told me, to a long and happy marriage).
Reviewed by: Laurel Waldron