an elegant riverside boutique with unbeatable views


Dinner on the quay at Magdalene College. Hot tubbing as punters pass by on the River Cam. Afternoon tea overlooking the city’s famous spiers.

Guests of The Varsity Hotel & Spa will certainly not miss Cambridge’s iconic views, which is probably one reason why the hotel has not only become a hotspot for tourists, but for locals and club-goers as well. university looking for a memorable place to have a birthday, anniversary or graduation dinner.

The riverside boutique hotel combines classic Cambridge details — bikes (free to rent), academic storefronts, rooms named after colleges — with a chic, urban vibe. Think cool, contemporary cocktail menus, colorful geometric backdrops, and a dimly lit spa.

From dinner on the roof terrace to candlelit massages, here’s what awaits you.

Where is it?

If that’s the position you’re after, you can’t beat it. Varsity is located right on the river in the heart of Cambridge, a stone’s throw from some of the university’s most popular colleges and right in the middle of the city centre’s buzz.

It is the closest hotel in the city to St John’s, Trinity, Jesus and Magdalene colleges. King’s, Christ’s, Queens’, Gonville and Caius, Clare, Corpus Christi and other colleges are within walking distance.




Don’t come for an old Cambridge college vibe, but come for urban chic luxury with nods to the university. Rooms are individually decorated, with fun geometric wallpapers, colorful couches, and fun touches like academic display cases and bicycle sculptures. Downstairs in the spa restaurant and steakhouse, expect 18th-century warehouse vibes, with exposed brick and classy neutral tones.

For sand-colored colleges and dreamy spiers, just look out most windows.

Which room?

All 48 rooms are equipped with tea and coffee making facilities, Elemis toiletries, tablets with internet access and 24-hour room and concierge service. You will also have access to the sauna, steam room and swimming pool spa with your reservation.

    (Photographer: Paul Winch-Furness)

(Photographer: Paul Winch-Furness)

Each is uniquely designed, with quirky artwork, names inspired by Cambridge colleges, and fun little touches that match the room’s name, like alumnus Ian McKellen’s theater photos in St Catharine’s room.

Double Graduate Rooms are the smallest option, or there is the option of a King Fellows Room with a king-size bed or a Superking Senior Fellows Room with a super king-size bed. Some have walk-in monsoon showers, while others have Victorian freestanding baths or tubs, so let staff know your priority when you call to book. Many come with outstanding views over Cambridge, but again they vary, so mention if this is a priority.

For a special treat, choose a Senior Fellows Suite, the largest in the hotel. The 80m² corner suite features a private terrace, a sitting area with floor-to-ceiling windows and a freestanding bath with direct views of St John’s College Chapel.

    (Photographer: Paul Winch-Furness)

(Photographer: Paul Winch-Furness)

Food beverage

The hotel’s main restaurant is the River Bar Steakhouse & Grill right on the Quayside – think prime cuts of prime beef with unrivaled views of the River Cam from an 18th-century exposed brick warehouse. Most of the ingredients are locally sourced and steak is the main order here, as the name suggests, but you can also expect fresh grilled fish, lobster and vegetarian dishes from halloumi burgers to baked macaroni. The homemade chocolate brownies and sticky toffee puddings are a must-try.

SIX Brasserie — unsurprisingly, on the hotel’s sixth floor — offers modern British-style lunch, dinner or just drinks with panoramic views of the city’s skyline, but it’s afternoon tea for which it’s most famous. Think scones, sandwiches and sweets, plus the option of a champagne upgrade – the perfect Mother’s Day gift. You can rent the whole place for a private event if you’d like to have it to yourself.


After the rooftop, the Varsity’s USP is its Glassworks spa, with bike machines, daily fitness classes, a sauna and steam room, and an Instagram-worthy hot tub overlooking the river. It’s one-way glass, so you don’t have to worry about passers-by staring at you from the waterfront.

    (Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer)

(Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer)

Elemis Spa treatments are available for an extra fee, from waxing and manicures to massages and facials. The 50-minute Elemis massage and facial combo is a favorite with guests, and there are candlelit couples’ massages if you’re visiting on a romantic getaway.

Bicycles are available for guests to rent on a free basis, and there’s free charging of electric and hybrid cars as part of the hotel’s green initiative and valet parking.

What on Instagram

Sixth floor rooftop afternoon tea. Scones look best with a background of spiers.



better for?

Citybreakers looking for a luxurious tourist stay.

How to get there

Fast trains from Liverpool Street and King’s Cross take just 48 minutes, then it’s a 25-minute walk the other way.

If you are driving, there is secure parking for hotel guests. Chesterton Road has paid street parking just a three-minute walk away and is free after 5pm, and Castle Hill car park is just an eight-minute walk away, with free off-road parking after 7pm every day. days.

When do I have to go?

Anytime you can get a reservation. Cambridge is beautiful at any time of year – the spiers arguably seem more magical in winter, although boating is certainly more fun minus the winter chill and the Varsity’s roof terrace is only open in spring and summer. Avoid the timetables if you prefer the city to the dress.

Rooms from £178, Thompsons Ln, Cambridge CB5 8AQ,

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