It’s a truth universally acknowledged that January is the most depressing month of the year, ergo the perfect time to escape the humdrum and treat yourself to an indulgent escape.
Cambridge’s University Arms, located in the historic heart of the city, was given a new lease of life when it was re-created in 2018 by architect John Simpson and interior designer Martin Brudnizki. Originally opened in 1834, today’s incarnation stays true to the original period architecture, with 192 rooms and suites across four floors offering views over Parker’s Piece, historic Regent Street and the hotel’s inner courtyard.
A cosy winter weekend away is just what the doctor ordered at this time of year, particularly when the interiors are the pinnacle of British style with bespoke leather-padded writing desks, low ottomans and tiered chandeliers in playful colours. Each of the suites, some of which occupy the top floor with balconies looking out over Parker’s Piece, have bookshelves individually curated around their subject by Mayfair’s Heywood Hill. Staying in the Darwin suite for the night, mine was resplendent with titles on nature, evolution and the British countryside, from huge coffee table Taschen tomes full of stunning botanical illustrations, to biographies from some of the world’s most eminent explorers.
With such luxurious surroundings you’d be forgiven for not wanting to leave your room. Our suite featured an enormous velvet sofa, cosy reading nook by the floor to ceiling windows, back to back televisions and one of the comfiest beds I’ve tried in a long old while, complete with mountains of indulgent pillows. The masterpiece of a bathroom, complete with underfloor heating no less, featured a claw foot tub just calling out for a long post-prandial soak, while the Dr. Harris toiletries perfectly encapsulated the old England feel of the decor.
The little details are what make locations like this next level spectacular; the branded chocolate left out in the room for an evening nibble, the tea mugs illustrated with a stunning line drawing of the property and the handmade box in which they rested, all in the hotel’s signature shade of almost Tiffany blue. Every little part of the room was beautiful.
Brudnizki’s signature style is evident throughout, with gallery walls, rich colours and subtle textures certainly reminiscent of his work with the Ivy collection. The library features an original carved fireplace, a cosy location to enjoy the weekend papers, while original stained glass windows depicting scenes and crests of the colleges can be found on each floor. Breakfast is served in Parker’s Tavern, designed to mimic a University dining room with its wooden tables and paintings depicting rowing scenes.
Make sure to make a booking for dinner and you won’t be disappointed. We enjoyed a menu of serious winter comfort food, including a slow cooked truffled duck egg on toast with truffle mayo and sherry vinegar, followed by a delicate nut brown buttered sole with coastal herbs and brown shrimps and a Cambridge burnt cream for pudding. Divine.
I adored my visit, so much so I’ve already convinced more than one friend to book in for a weekend escape. With the delights of Cambridge on the doorstep and only an hour on the train from London, it’s the perfect antidote to the January blues.
With Valentine’s Day on the approach, couples can this year indulge in a package that includes chocolate truffles and bottle of bubbly in their room, a three course meal at Parker’s Tavern including oysters and cured smoked salmon, roasted pave of lamb with fondant potatoes or celeriac and black truffle ‘carbonara’ and pudding of a delicious passion fruit soufflé to share, with the extra special parting gift of an edible chocolate body butter, created by chef Tristan Welch. The package also includes late check-out for leisurely risers.
University Arms’ Valentine’s Package is available to book for the night of 14th February 2020. Rates from £335 based on two people sharing, including an overnight stay, a bottle of champagne and chocolates on arrival, a three course meal for two at Parker’s Tavern and late check-out.
For more information visit www.universityarms.com/valentines-day