Part 1 of 3: Graduate Cambridge Hotel
It’s funny what drives a short getaway, especially in November! Because of some medical stuff that had been going on we wanted a short trip to celebrate a 6 week recovery point. Criteria equalled not going too far in the car – my husband hates being driven, and I was driving! – and places we could easily walk. Combine that with something interesting to do, hmm thats not hard for me, the Scott Polar Museum = tick! A friend had mentioned Cliveden House and the beautiful grounds – a National Trust property but with the house now being a Relais & Chateaux hotel. I can see a mini-break coming together nicely.
This is part one, first stop Cambridge.
Visiting the Scott Polar Museum had been high on my list for some time. Well obviously, when you think about most of my blogs being related to the South Pole! And, I have a trip planned to the Arctic in June so wanted to ‘gen up’ on that a bit and start to think about how different that trip might be to the Antarctica.
Before I get ahead of myself on that one though, where to stay in Cambridge?
Anyone that lives nearby knows that parking in this relatively small city centre is challenging. We wanted to be near the centre and in a good quality hotel, AND have parking. The Graduate Cambridge popped up in our Google search. A boutique hotel, about 15 mins walk from the museum, on the river with valet parking.
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Love at First Sight
There are not many hotels that I walk into the front door and fall in love with. You only have to read my Scotland series to get that! First impressions are key, so the whole reception team from doormen, valets to the check in staff play such a crucial role. If a hotel gets this right then I relax immediately and know it will be a good place to stay. This stood up to that test admirably with a super fun and friendly welcome and genuine hospitality, it went from good to better. The bar area was really nice, with great Prosecco at an OK price for a hotel. Looking out onto the river and with a beautiful conservatory and gardens, it begs a return in the summer.
As a boutique hotel, it was much more funky and individual, taking in the theme of the river and being right next to a punting station, punts covered much of the walls. They were putting up their Christmas decorations, with the most beautiful tree in reception, with mainly natural adornments. The music was good too – upbeat and jazzy, loud enough but not too loud, creating a relaxed atmosphere with a bit of a buzz even mid-week in the winter.
Lunch in the bar, a healthy salad for me and very decent fish and chips for my husband and very pleasant and efficient service. The restaurant was pleasant too. Having eaten fish and chips at lunch – always a mistake if you are aiming to have dinner as well – we only wanted something light. That wasn’t a problem, we enjoyed a lovely home made soup, another starter and hubby had a desert of course! Same as the bar area, really nice staff – nothing was a problem, and although not overly busy was really pleasant.
What was our Junior Suite Like?
It was quite traditional with dark flooring and partial dark wood panelling which suited the room. Good facilities with a fridge, coffee maker etc and I loved our kingsize bed which was super comfortable plus a comfy settee and chair and fabulous view of the river, with floor to ceiling windows. We struggled with the air-con getting it to heat rather than cool, but I know if we had asked we would have had help. The bathroom was a little cold and there wasn’t a heater in there, but it soon warmed up when we fixed the room heating. We loved that we could stream our favourite channel from our iPad to one of the two good size TV’s and caught up with a couple of episodes one afternoon when we were chilling – not something we normally do, so it felt special and indulgent! Watch this YouTube short for a quick room tour:
Buzzing town, lots of bikes and impressive buildings!
Sums it up really! Absolutely stunningly beautiful buildings steeped in history. Cute cafe’s and restaurants and busy of course even in November. Many small museums and exhibitions that are worth checking out and of course the River Cam. Always best in photo’s so here you go.
Sustainability Good to see large refillable static bottles of toiletries in the bathroom. As it was a short stay I didn’t get time to ask anyone about other aspects of the hotel. A negative was plastic water bottles in the fridge – great to have water supplied, but would love this super hotel to look at another way of supplying that to guests.
Food Allergy Report: The staff took my allergies (peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish) very seriously. There were no issues though of course they did have an open kitchen so they couldn’t guarantee cross contamination but made every effort to ensure I was in good hands.
- Super position by the river whatever the season but would be lovely to be there in Spring and Summer
- Good quality food and attention to allergies
- Friendly and helpful staff, great welcome on arrival and genuine hospitality
- Funky decor in keeping with Cambridge with lovely bar and restaurant
- Close to the Cambridge town centre, easy walking distance
- Good value? Yes, we would say so and we would definitely stay there again.