Weren't clever enough to get into Cambridge University? Don't despair: Experience the atmosphere of its hallowed halls at this historic hotel nearby

  • Jennifer Cox checked into the 19th-century University Arms hotel on Cambridge's Regent Street
  • She stayed in the 'heart-soaringly luxurious' Stephen Hawking suite, which features a bespoke writing desk
  • 'Decadent' afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the wood-panelled library with its fireplace and velvet sofas

By Jennifer Cox, Mail on Sunday.

If, like me, your exam success peaked at the Cycling Proficiency Test, don’t despair. You can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the ’s hallowed halls by checking in to the University Arms hotel on Regent Street.

Cambridge’s oldest hotel, now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, dates from 1834. It recently underwent a laudable £80 million makeover by architect John Simpson, whose touches include the dramatic triple-arched portico through which guests enter the soaring double-height lobby that’s hung with statement belle epoch-style pennant lighting.

Once inside, designer Martin Brudnizki (of Annabel’s nightclub fame) has fun, channelling university character throughout, from the Cambridge blue of the 189 guest rooms to the university tie striped carpets. Even the concierges’ smart uniforms are a homage to Cambridge alumnus Winston Churchill’s siren suits.

And it works. For all its quirkiness (Alan Bennett, an Oxford man, reads Wind In The Willows in the chic loos), the University Arms is a smart, seriously stylish hotel. We marvelled at the grand lobby, which my husband likened to Hogwarts.