As you might expect for a city so rich in heritage, Cambridge’s boutique hotels expertly fuse the old with the new for some of the quirkiest short breaks around. The city offers luxury stays in grand buildings on trendy shopping streets, as well as getaways in bijou homes along the calm riverbanks.
Soak up Cambridge’s past with accommodation built into old university and college buildings, or step away from urban life and into a quaint farmhouse. Here’s our roundup of superb boutique hotels to stay at in Cambridge and the surrounding areas.
A central boutique Cambridge hotel and spa with a rooftop bar
A Union Jack flag flies outside this centrally located boutique hotel in Cambridge, reflecting the quintessentially British ethos of The Varsity. Boasting the title of the closest Cambridge accommodation to all the major colleges, this luxury lodging is an ideal choice for those wishing to soak up the rich past of these academic buildings.
Key into one of the 44 eclectic rooms with furnishings matched to the hues of their brightly patterned wallpaper. Plug your music player into the iPod dock, warm your toes over the under-floor heating in the bathroom and freshen up in the waterfall shower or stand-alone tub. Bathrooms feature Elemis toiletries, and you can also indulge in full treatments by the brand in the spa. The purple lighting and subtle fragrances create a feeling of calm as you sink into the in-floor Jacuzzi or enjoy a soothing Indian head massage.
Once rejuvenated, head to afternoon tea for quality time over finger sandwiches and scones. Each tea has been selected by master blenders to match the flavours in your food. A rooftop bar and terrace overlooking spire-topped churches and college turrets infuses evenings with a lively atmosphere. Take the stairs one floor below to find the same panoramic views at the Six restaurant.Compare prices
A Cambridge boutique hotel in an old watermill
For a taste of the city with the seclusion of the country, this exclusive boutique hotel in Cambridge combines farmhouse charm with modish features. A historic watermill past is seen in the oak-beam structure, providing it with a rustic quality, refined by deluxe rooms holding stately four-poster beds. Experience Cambridge from a unique bird’s-eye view by booking a helicopter ride and seeing the city from the skies, starting from the hotel’s greens. If you’d prefer seeing the sites by land, Quy also has its own fleet of hireable bikes.
To recharge after a day’s adventure, book a slot in the Imagine spa for a swim in the indoor heated swimming pool and a soak in the bubbling Jacuzzi. Let the steam room and sauna open your pores and calm your senses, then try a sensory body wrap or massage on the Hammam table.
Located in the old miller’s house, the aptly named Mill House restaurant offers traditional dishes made with avant-garde ingredients, such as the dinner porridge with egg and black pudding or locally acquired pork belly with bacon popcorn. Dine intimately by a crackling open fireplace during winter months or on the chic patio in summer, with its leafy views of the Mill Race river.Compare prices
A French-themed boutique Cambridge hotel for trendy historians
The Du Vin’s French aesthetic is retained throughout, with suites named after famous Champagne houses and winemakers. Idiosyncratic rooms showcase authentic characteristics, such as the original bread oven and glass-topped well. While original features may vary per room, each has a custom-made bed adorned with Egyptian linen and a waterfall shower or roll-top bathtub wherever you’re placed.
Among Grade II-listed buildings on the opulent Trumpington street, this partly Medieval townhouses have been carefully converted to retain original features. An understated exterior welcomes you into the Du Vin’s chic core. You’ll get a flavour of Cambridge life in the days of yore, from the painted murals of students at bygone parties to the hushed atmosphere of the cosy library with its exposed brickwork and curious nooks.
The city’s famous shopping area is within close proximity. Stroll around the Grand Arcade, stopping at independent boutiques like Cuckoo, before marvelling at the portico of the Fitzwilliam museum. At the Bistro plates are kept simple, focusing on traditional ingredients like snails in garlic butter or cassoulet. Sip on a glass of Perrior Jouet in the Cellar bar or educate your taste buds with a Sommelier-hosted wine sampling in the dedicated tasting room.Compare prices
A dog-friendly boutique Cambridge hotel with its own art collection
Upon entering Hotel Felix you’ll notice the many sculptures, portraits and landscape paintings that form the owners’ collection. This refined atmosphere is enhanced by large windows that allow natural light to flow into the high-ceilinged rooms of the communal areas with their original archways, wooden floorboards and elegant seating.
Set on the fringes of the city, this hotel means you’re within reach of the main attractions at a mere mile and a half from the centre. Dogs are also welcome to stay and roam the grounds or nap in the Orangery. This dog-friendly eatery offers afternoon tea or light bites on the comfy indoor armchairs or outside on the terrace. Graffiti restaurant is a more formal affair, with an á la carte menu crafted from the freshest produce of the season.
Settle into your room adorned with trademark boutique décor, such as upholstered armchairs, characterful wallpaper and sleekly tiled bathrooms with underfloor heating. Duck-down filled pillows are plumped against the oversized headboard, ideal for sitting up in bed and reading in comfort while enveloped in a fluffy robe and savouring a treat from the minibar. Cleanse in the walk-in shower with White Company toiletries, or take it one step further with bespoke in-room treatments. Choose from a luxury facial or Swedish body massage and finish with a manicure.Compare prices
A boutique Cambridge hotel right on the river
Each of the DoubleTree’s 138 rooms is design-led and unique. Easy chairs have matching footstools enhancing their comfort, while desks are flanked by structural mirrors for a subtly industrial finish. Deluxe rooms and suites benefit from a private balcony, so you can step out with your morning tea and watch early morning punters drift among swans and geese.
This boutique building has a special accolade – it’s the only hotel in Cambridge directly on the River Cam. Seeing the boaters in action as you step into reception might inspire you to try it yourself; after check-in, book a trip down the river in one of Cambridge’s famous boats and view the city as you sail through the water.
Be sure to make your way back to the hotel for supper, as you’ll find the handiwork of Marco Pierre-White in the steakhouse bar and grill. Amid lime green and purple armchairs surrounded by embossed walls interspersed with portraits of the man himself, tables are set with fresh white cloths. Spot old favourites such as prawn cocktail and shepherd’s pie cooked in a traditional way. For afters, order a cocktail – such as the Cambridge-focused Punters Punch – from the Twist Bar and take it outside to relax by the riverside.Compare prices
A boutique Cambridge hotel peering over parkland
Gazing over the 25 acres of Parker’s Piece, the Gonville blends seamlessly with the high-class buildings that the city holds. Never too far from the city’s past, the original building was constructed for Gonville and Caius College. It’s this history, along with a multi-million-pound refurbishment, that has resulted in classically designed rooms with innovative touches. Sconce lights, chandeliers and deluxe seating welcome you into the tiled reception and beyond.
The bar on an early weekend evening sees a piano player conjuring up live background music to your cocktail tasting. For lunch, the hotel’s Atrium brasserie offers meals under a glass ceiling surrounded by tall palms for a botanical feel. Later, dinner awaits in the glass-encased Cotto – chef Hans Schweitzer’s unique creation. You’ll find an exceptional menu of dishes like ballotine of quail and the famous ‘chocolate time’, comprising a chocolate clock with gold-leaf numbers.
The hotel’s concierge will drive you to your reservations in the city in a classic 1958 S1 Bentley. If you’d like to order room service, download the Virtual Valet app and order on the move. An iPad in each room serves the same purpose, allowing you to have essentials delivered while you bathe beside painted tiles of Cambridge scenes.Compare prices
A boutique country house B&B hotel in Cambridge
As you pull up to a tree-lined gravel driveway, you’ll see that the grandeur of Rectory Farm immediately sets it apart. Rich brick is offset by blooming vines that twist around curtain-framed windows and across the double-door entrance forming a truly inviting exterior. Built to resemble a Georgian farmhouse, this bed and breakfast allows you to recuperate away from the city in 50 acres of private meadows and two acres of stately gardens.
A grand living-room-esque guest lounge is defined by bookshelves teeming with classic literature. Vintage-inspired ornaments, floral fabrics and antique furniture, such as writing desks and chaise longues, fill each bedroom with period-style plushness. The surrounding gardens can be seen from every room in the hotel.
Swim lengths in the heated outdoor swimming pool to start the day before strolling down the private footpath to a local pub, passing grazing horses and sheep in the neighbouring field on the way. For a lengthier exploration, the nearby Coton footpath provides a pleasant 40-minute countryside walk directly to the gates of King’s College. End the day by relaxing with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a cookie in the saloon while you flick through the extensive DVD library.