The Varsity is a beautifully-built hotel – once you get past the unpreposessing brick exterior. But what is most remarkable about it is that it is Cambridge’s first proper, world-class luxury hotel. Complete with stunning penthouse suites, a wonderfully sexy roof terrace that will be brilliant in summer and a state-of-the-art spa, it would make any 800 year-old university town proud.
ROOMS: I was lucky enough to stay in a penthouse suite. All the rooms – with names like Senior Fellows Suite and the Fellows King Rooms – are decorated in smooth woods, chic fabrics and, most importantly, come with divine views of the Medieval town. But this one (pictured) was staggering. Wall-to-wall windows make you feel like you’re outside, sweeping wood floors, plenty of seating, two TVs (what for?) and a high-class espresso machine confirm you’ve arrived. Elsewhere, the hotel is strangely small and claustrophobic; labyrinthine, close corridors and a brick wall-facing lounge.
SPA: Part of Glassworks, the super-swanky gym only the most privelaged of students can afford, the spa is in a neighbouring building but its affiliation with the hotel ensures a top line of treatments. The highlight is the exquisite jacuzzi looking over the river; elsewhere are eight treatment rooms where you can experience the full range of Aveda’s therapies.
FOOD: There’s no in-house restaurant, so guests eat at the River Bar Steakhouse and Grill, a slightly atmosphere-less restaurant round the corner. Our dinner was very nice though: baked camembert and swordfish with vegetables, and the Italian waiter was a dear. Breakfast is best taken in your room, nibbled on while the gardens of Magdalen College and the rest unfold before you.
Rooms from £100 to £390.