The Varsity Hotel & Spa is hosting a Christmas staycation to remember. We visited the hotel for an overnight experience and to try out the Christmas staycation offerings for 2021.
Less than an hour away from London by train, this independently owned 44 room boutique hotel and spa adopts a snug location, sitting right in the hub of Cambridge town’s buzzing Quayside area. The full-service facilities showcased throughout the whole of this spa hotel, make its central location particularly unique and exclusive. With the river Cam flowing elegantly close by, St John’s, Trinity and Kings a few minutes’ walk away, The Varsity Hotel & Spa creates the idyllic spot for a Christmas staycation as well as punting, sight-seeing, shopping and nightlife. Its urban position tucked away on a dainty residential lane combines outstanding panoramic views, helping to smartly achieve a sense of stillness, peace and tranquillity when visiting this modern British hotel.
Intelligent architects have designed a modern British concept with cutting edge elements across the main hotels six floors and the converted 19th-century brewery warehouse, which sits a stone throw away directly next door. Established British names from the interior design world from the likes of Colefax & Fowler, Osborne & Little and Farrow & Ball, have cooperated to combine the fabrics and wallpapers that dress each room of the hotel. Though each room here is individual, expect to witness strong patterned wallpapers from the Nineteenth Century English cotton print and botanical influences, solid oak flooring throughout each room and sandstone bathrooms with monsoon showers or free-standing Victorian baths.
As I arrive into Cambridge after an express train journey from London King’s Cross station, I opted for a short 25-minute walk with my over-night bag to the hotel. After sitting down on the train and as I usually do, I quite fancied the idea of stretching my legs whilst simultaneously taking in the views of my new surroundings. Now at reception I receive a warm welcome, followed by a tasteful invite to make use of the free gym and spa facilities, whilst I wait for my room to become available for check-in. I often find myself like many others neglecting the actions of self-care, so on this particular occasion I was overly patient and more than happy to kick back, relax and retract my shoulders.
Now standing with key in hand at the entrance to my room, I twist, unlock and turn the door. I have that common eager feeling to see what type of display welcomes me for my one night’s stay. As I push the door open and enter, I begin my analysis of first impressions. Intently waiting to strike at winning me over, a four-poster super king-size bed! Two large East and South facing floor to ceiling picture windows applaud its grandness, deliberately kissing all angles of its frame. This is a team effort, helping to synergistically execute the delivery of the rooms already ‘wow factor’ performance. This Senior Fellows Super King room offers 35 square meters of space, with an exceptional bird’s eye view of the city. It’s easy to say that these extraordinary views facilitate for a stay that you want to make the most of.
As I work my way through the large room, I can feel the warm welcome of the underfloor heating on the soles of my feet. Stepping my way toward the bathroom, I am greeted with a huge walk-in monsoon shower. Obsidian black shower tiles and Onyx black floor tiles create a serious executive feel, yet still managing to maintain that luxury spa touch through the use of the stone undertones. I’m glad to also see the return of another sumptuous window wall, with a dressing table and mirror positioned close by… it’s time to get ready for dinner. I enjoyed a brilliant steak, looked after by Marco who made my experience memorable with his warmth and proper hospitality.
The Spa experience
I head over to the adjoining warehouse building to kick-start my wellness activities and first on my list is to work up an appetite for my Christmas staycation indulgence. So, as I climb up to reach the top floor, the cutting-edge health club with state-of-the-art equipment wastes no time to call me in. This workout was all about getting a good ‘leg-day’ session in, to which I was pleased to see the variety of Cybex resistance equipment to play around with, as well as a squat rack! (these are golden to come by when considering a boutique hotel stay). Straight in with some heavy compound exercises to stimulate multiple muscle groups at the same time, my heart rate is elevated and I’m starting to sweat. To finish with a bang, some treadmill sprints to really push everything out of my already depleted muscles. If you prefer an instructor lead workout, then yoga, pilates, aerobics and spinning classes are all available on site too.
Back downstairs at the spa reception I am given a crisp white dressing-gown, a fluffy Egyptian cotton towel and my newly concealed spa slippers. Now changed into my relaxing spa attire, I make a beeline straight for the Jacuzzi! Overlooking the river Cam whilst sitting in a SPA Pool was the perfect place for me to recline, relax and rejuvenate. Watching people being chauffeured past on their punting tours was somewhat therapeutic in itself. In order to compliment all the calmness that my mind and body was experiencing, I made a trip to the sauna and steam room to finish off the detox.
Christmas at The Varsity Hotel & Spa
For a Christmas staycation and general 2021 festivities, The Varsity Hotel & Spa will help guests and locals to go one up on last year’s events with sublime festive feasts and free-flowing drinks.
Located on the top floor and featuring breath-taking 360-degree views across the Cambridge skyline, SIX has created a bespoke Christmas Party Menu, making it a good choice to host the ultimate festive gathering. At £46.50 per person, you can expect to satisfy your pallet with a number of dishes from a three course menu including; grilled peaches, buffalo mozzarella, mint & balsamic drizzle to start, slow roasted pork belly butter bean and sun dried tomato cassoulet, mustard mash, crumbled black pudding for the main event and guests with a sweet tooth can expect a cherry tart with clotted cream.
For Christmas Day, there is a special menu on offer. At £89 per person or £29 per child, you can expect a traditional mix of classic yuletide songs and Christmas crackers to get everyone in the spirit. Homemade warm scotch egg with smoked garlic mayonnaise to start, roasted turkey wrapped in streaky bacon with crushed roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots, sprouts & jus for the main event followed by baked Christmas pudding and brandy sauce.
Looking for somewhere to host a party? The River Bar Steakhouse & Grill located on the Quayside, which features impressive views of the river will be celebrating Christmas with a bespoke party menu. With an option to private hire an area or exclusive use of the space, expect the following; smoked salmon, pickled cucumber, shaved lemon, horseradish and toast to start, daube of slow braised Dexter beef pie, salt and pepper crust, roasted beetroot and mashed potatoes for the main and Sicilian lemon tart with mascarpone for dessert. Three courses are £46.50 per person for lunch or dinner.
Things to do in Cambridge
It would be criminal to not take advantage of this hotels convenient location next to the river. Located close by on Mill Lane there is punting available to take advantage of, with or without a chauffeur. This is one of the best ways to soak up the history of Cambridge, seeing and discovering all of the historic colleges from the water. There are 31 colleges of the University of Cambridge, numerous chapels and churches that can be discovered on foot, should you not be as interested to hop into a boat.
Trendy independent boutique stores, bistros and cafes, all make up for some retail therapy and nibbling. This is the ideal hotel to fully immerse into the culture and beauty of Cambridge for a Christmas staycation.
To discover more, visit: thevarsityhotel.co.uk
All imagery courtesy of The Varsity Hotel & Spa.
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