Cambridge, United Kingdom

University Arms

Rates per night from$146.36

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP113.43), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

The Full English

Setting

Cleverly collegiate

University Arms has finally given Cambridge a hotel with both brains and beauty, worthy of its Parker’s Piece perch. We can imagine university men Watson and Crick would declare its DNA to be undeniably British and hope that Virginia Woolf would find her namesake suite – designed by Martin Brudnizki – an utterly charming room of one’s own. As for us, after a weekend spent pottering, punting and Parker’s Tavern feasting, we were moved to pen Byronic cantos to this hotel’s blue-blooded perfection. Instead, we had too many Bloomsbury Boozers in the bar and never got around to it.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A gift-wrapped copy of The Wind in the Willows in each room and a cocktail each in Parker's Tavern

Facilities

Photos University Arms facilities

Need to know

Rooms

192 rooms, including 12 suites.

Check–Out

Check in is 3pm and check-out is 12pm. Both can be flexible, depending on availability.

Rates

Double rooms from $146.36 (£113), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates generally include breakfast. We recommend the sausages from royal warrant-holding butcher Musk’s, said to be a staple at the Queen’s table.

Also

Pop to the downstairs loos to hear Alan Bennett reading from The Wind in the Willows. Sadly it’s just a recording.

At the hotel

Free WiFi, 24-hour gym, free bike rental, city guide. In rooms: desk, free bottled water, tea and Nespresso coffee, plug adaptors, daily newspaper on request, smart TV.

Our favourite rooms

It’s hard to go wrong here as every room is designed by Martin Brudnizki in Edwardian style with mind-boggling attention to minutiae. If pressed, we’d opt for a Superior Room, which has a bit more space, large windows and the perfect Cambridge-blue armchair for reading.

Packing tips

No need to lug any heavy books: they’re stacked by your bedside and there’s a library full of them. All the hotel’s volumes are curated by Heywood Hill, the Mayfair bookshop with the royal warrant.

Also

All the public areas and 11 bedrooms are fully wheelchair accessible. Hearing loops are also available.

Children

All ages are very welcome. Little Smiths are allowed in the bar until 7pm and in Parker’s Tavern, which has a children’s menu and build-your-own-sundae bar, until 7.30pm.

Food and Drink

Photos University Arms food and drink

Top Table

Nab a seat on one of the squishy central banquettes for prime people-peeping.

Dress Code

Wear your Sunday best, heritage brands preferred: Loake slip-ons and anything cashmere by Johnstons of Elgin.

Hotel restaurant

Designed by Martin Brudnizki to look like a college dining hall, Parker’s Tavern is a British brasserie serving comfort food and crowd pleasers. Chef Tristan Welch is a native Cambridge boy (formerly of the Cotton House in Mustique and London’s Petrus) and the highlights of his nostalgic menu include the naughtily named ‘classic British spaghetti Bolognese’, roast Norfolk duck and buttered sole. Welch’s own sons – apparently dab hands in the kitchen – created the children’s menu. For dessert, the young at heart can create their own ice cream sundae with toppings like caramel popcorn and toffee (check Nanny approves first) or opt for Cambridge burnt cream (it’s what the French call crème brȗlée).

Hotel bar

The bar is a jewel-toned Edwardian salon, inspired by literature – its marbled wallpaper looks like the flyleaf of a classic volume. As well as an extensive and ever-changing wine list and 39 types of gin, there are 10 signature cocktails inspired by the legends of Cambridge (discover the Secret of Life, inspired by the discovery of DNA, with Hendrick’s gin, English spiced vermouth and rhubarb bitters). There’s food here, too, like the Parker’s beef burger and a croque monsieur seafood roll with Norfolk crab.

Last orders

Breakfast is from 6.30am to 11am. Parker’s Tavern is open for lunch, afternoon tea and supper from noon until late and the bar serves wine, cocktails, coffee and all-day snacks from 11am until the last guest’s gone to bed.

Room service

The full restaurant and bar menu is available as room service from noon to 10.30pm. If you’re up late, there are sandwiches, curries and pies on the night menu.

Location

Photos University Arms location
Address
University Arms
Regent St
Cambridge
CB2 1AD
United Kingdom

University Arms is in the collegiate heart of Cambridge, overlooking Parker’s Piece common.

Planes

London Stansted is 40 minutes away by car and has direct flights to cities throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. If you’re coming from further afield, London Heathrow is your best bet, a 90-minute drive from Cambridge. The hotel is happy to organise airport pick-ups; it’s £45 from Stansted and £90 from Heathrow.

Trains

Cambridge railway station is just a five-minute drive from the hotel. Trains arrive direct from London’s Kings Cross in under an hour and the hotel can arrange a pick-up for you.

Automobiles

You won’t need wheels in the walkable city of Cambridge but there are a limited number of on-site parking spaces for £30 a day (if you’re staying in a suite, you can book a space). The nearest public car park is £25 a day and just a five-minute walk away; the hotel recommends dropping your luggage first and then the concierge can direct you.

Worth getting out of bed for

Admission is free to the university’s Fitzwilliam Museum which has Roman and Egyptian antiquities as well as 20th-century works by Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh and Cézanne. If your tastes are more contemporary, Kettle's Yard – once the home of Tate curator John Ede – looks like an unassuming country cottage but houses a remarkable collection of modern art, including pieces by Brâncuși and Miró. The hotel can organise walking tours of Cambridge’s colleges with a Blue Badge guide, and if the weather’s good, ask the kitchen to pack up a picnic for you to take on a punt down the Cam, England’s answer to the gondolas of Venice. We recommend letting an experienced punter do all the hard work (try the Cambridge Punt Company) while you sit back, pop the English Sparkling and enjoy the views; the river meanders behind the back of the university’s colleges (aka ‘the Backs’), under the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge. Don’t miss evensong at King’s College Chapel – its famous choir services are open to all.

Local restaurants

Borrow one of the hotel’s Tiffany-blue bicycles for a genteel jaunt to the Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester, which has been serving tea and scones under its fruit trees since 1897. Back in town, pick up some Chelsea buns to take home from Fitzbillies, beloved by students and Stephen Fry (who inadvertently saved the classic bakery from closure by tweeting about it). Chef Daniel Clifford reigns at two Michelin-star Midsummer House, a cosy Victorian villa on the Cam. If you’re wondering where the hungover students eat, we’ve heard they flex their undergraduate metabolisms on pork sandwiches and poutine at Bread & Meat or dumplings at Zhonghua Traditional Snacks on Norfolk Street.

Local bars

In 1953, Watson and Crick announced that they had discovered the double helix, ‘the secret of life’, in the 14th-century Eagle pub on Benet Street where, during World War II, American airmen scrawled their names on the ceiling. We think writing on the walls is frowned upon now, but you can certainly spend a happy evening soaking up the pub’s historic atmosphere…and the Suffolk cask ales.

Reviews

Photos University Arms reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this brilliantly British hotel in Cambridge and unpacked their Chelsea buns from Fitzbillies, a full account of their brainy break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside University Arms in Cambridge…

Like a school boy in his Sunday best, University Arms looks buttoned-up but has a definite cheeky streak. Behind the glamorous Edwardian façade, the interiors – by smart Swede Martin Brudnizki – layer reference upon winking reference to Cambridge’s iconography: the hallways have the patterns of the colleges’ neckties, there’s a copy of Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children in every room and the white-tiled bathrooms give the barest nod to ‘institutional’ (though we don’t remember our school having gold taps, heated floors and bespoke DR Harris potions). Downstairs, in dressed-up dining hall Parker’s Tavern, local boy Tristan Welch dishes out witty takes on childhood comfort food, exactly like your school dinner ladies never used to make. So, if you’re ever feeling deeply nostalgic for a collegiate experience that literature promised and reality failed to deliver, enrol at University Arms for a long weekend: you can read yellowing novels in leather wingback chairs, ride a powder-blue bicycle through cloistered courtyards and generally live out all your EM Forster fantasies.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in University Arms’s Guestbook below.

We loved

We loved walking into our room and immediately out on to the terrace to gaze out across the expanse of green that is Parker's Piece and the honey hued rooftops of Cambridge. The wonderful feeling that the hotel, though recently renovated, felt like it had been there for centuries, sitting just next to the cobbled streets of Cambridge's historic colleges. We also loved the helpful concierge service at the hotel, always happy to give advice on what to see, how to find the best spots and lending out bicycles provided by the hotel. Everyone seems to criss-cross the city by bike, it really is the best way to see Cambridge.

Don’t expect

Parking is always an issue when visiting Cambridge. It is best to do as we did and arrange some beforehand, otherwise it will be an expensive inconvenience.

Rating

Stayed on 23 Aug 2019

We loved

The hotel is perfectly located to discover beautiful Cambridge. The decor of the public areas and the rooms is excellent. It's a lovely property. We had wonderful cocktails in the bar served by friendly professional staff, and a good buffet breakfast.

Don’t expect

The hotel charges £30 a night to park, and our room wasn't available on time.

Rating

Stayed on 8 Aug 2019