The Varsity Hotel and Spa can be found in Cambridge, nestled among buildings alongside the River Cam.
You arrive to the sort of high class service you hope for at any hotel. You are greeted with valet parking or, if on foot, a suited doorman to usher you inside where your bags will be promptly taken off you after checking in.
Of course there is a lift, but I would recommend taking the stairs at least once to enjoy the nostalgia of various stamps from the past blown up to make artwork adorning the hallway walls.
I began my one night stay with a visit to the hotel spa and healthclub. The gym offers an unusual setting in a converted loft space, with the roof structure visible above. I must admit I skipped a workout and went straight to the spa which offers a sauna, steam room and stunning Jacuzzi from which you can gaze out over the river.
After making my way around each section various times and then indulging in a 30-minute Swedish massage – which uses five styles of long, flowing stokes creating the feeling of well-being – I was thoroughly relaxed and ready to indulge in a cocktail or two.
I returned to my spacious hotel with a large, indulgent bed, mini cafeteria for real coffee and strong, opulent shower.
When I was ready for the evening I headed up to the hotel’s Six Panoramic Bar and Restaurant which offers incomparable 360 degree views over the city, from where you can spot key colleges including St. John’s, Trinity, Jesus and Magdalene.
Their range of cocktails and some 30 gins that can be paired with eight different tonics made it difficult to choose, but I finally decided on the Gin Basil Smash, shaken with lemon juice and sugar syrup, which certainly hit the spot.
The following morning I returned to the rooftop bar and restaurant for the varied and endlessly sumptuous buffet breakfast, with an a la carte offering also available to buy.
Top 5 things to do in Cambridge
1. You can simply walk around, or hire bikes, and have a wonderful time. There is an abundance of quaint passages to explore and archaic buildings to see which make up the city and its colleges.
2. Go punting – King’s College Chapel, the Wren Library at Trinity College and the Bridge of Sighs are just some of the famous Cambridge landmarks you can expect to see during a 45-minute chauffeured punt tour.
3. Go to the Eagle Pub – it dates back to the 16th century, at least, when it was bequeathed to Corpus Christi College as the Eagle and Child. Early in the Second World War British servicemen began a tradition of burning the names of their units on the walls and ceilings, using everything from cigarette lighters to candles and even lipstick. When USAAF crew arrived from 1942 onwards they found themselves relaxing at Cambridge’s American Red Cross club. It was a short hop to the pub, where they continued the tradition. In the years following the end of the war the graffiti was obscured by years of nicotine deposits until they were restored.
4. Explore the Botanic Gardens, which first opened in 1846. This heritage-listed garden has been designed for both year-round interest and seasonal inspiration so, whenever you visit, you will find plants to intrigue and enchant.
5. Visit the Fitzwilliam Museum of art and antiques. Entrance is free and sections include music manuscripts, an Egyptian collection, paintings and Michaelangelo bronzes.
Rooms at The Varsity Hotel & Spa start at £155.
Thompson’s Lane (Off Bridge Street), Cambridge, CB5 8AQ.
Details: 01223 30 60 30