The stately university city of Cambridge, with its Gothic courtyards, grazing cattle, and student-packed pubs, is just an hour from London by trnin, making it a popular day trip from the capital. But now that the University Anns. a former 19th·century coaching inn, has reopened after a two-year renovation, there's good reason to spend the night (besides the hot Chelsea buns served for breakfast at Fitzbillies. Architect John Simpson, who gently modernized Kensington Palace, and designer Martin Brudnizki, of maximalist London club Annabel's fame, created a space that is a swirl of nostalgic academe: studded wingback armchairs, cam bridge college crests on the windows, and a library curated by Heywood Hill. the Mayfair bookshop with a royal warrant stamped next to its door. It's deliberately on the nose, and more fun for it.
Many of the rooms overlook Parker's Piece, a grassy common popular with picnicking Cantabrigians and students pedaling toward the city center, less than a mile away. The hotel keeps a fleet of Tiffany-blue bicycles, so you can go for a spin yourself. One of the most idyllic routes is along the River cam to the nearby village of Grantchester, where you can have a scone at the cheap and cheerful Orchard Tea Garden (everyone from Virginia Woolf to Prince Charles has downed a brew there) or a G&T at the Cambridge Distillery. Then whiz bad to catch the last afternoon entry at King's College Chapel (spot the roses and greyhounds in the stonework, heraldic symbols of Henry VII), before returning to your room to fill the roll-top bath and pour yourself a glass of port from the bedside stash. The DO NOT DISTURB signs, of course, are in the shape of bookmarks.