A weekend break in a university town should feel like the idealised version of student life: carefree book-and-booze-ﬁlled days in storied surroundings, without the essay crises, exam pressures or awkward single-bed bunk-ups.
Writer Bill Bryson articulated it best when he visited the University Arms, one of Cambridge’s oldest hotels, in search of “the requisite blazing ﬁre, the hearty viands and something of the air of a senior common room”. Instead, in 1995, Bryson found himself staying in an “overpriced modern block” that failed to live up to the establishment’s history. But this month, the University Arms reopens after an £80m investment, which has seen off the 1960s extensions that so irritated Bryson. Reborn as a conﬁdent, luxurious hotel, it’s beneﬁtted considerably from having been developed by architect John Simpson (who has worked on both Kensington and Buckingham Palaces) and interior designer Martin Brudnizki (who helped create Scott’s in Mayfair and The Ivy).
With 192 reﬁned guest rooms and suites, a library by Heywood Hill bookshop and Parker’s Tavern (a gown-free version of hall dining with suckling pig on the menu), this is the kind of place that will appeal to locals, students and visitors alike – and even the author of Notes from a Small Island.