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Visiting Cambridge – where to stay

Travel / No Comment / June 19, 2012

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay for a weekend away exploring what Cambridge has to offer, having recently done just that, I recommend the Cambridge Belfry Hotel, part of the QHotels chain.

Our room was large, well-appointed and spotlessly clean, members of staff were efficient and polite and the breakfast buffet – fruit juice, cereal, pastries, and the full English if you preferred – was well stocked.

I must enter a couple of caveats, however: our under-filled pillows offered little neck support, and loud music from wedding receptions (thankfully inaudible in our room) on both the Friday and Saturday nights drove us to dine elsewhere.

The Monkfield Arms – an unremarkable but competent Marston’s pub five minute’s walk away across a supermarket car park – served us sizzling fajitas, a drink each and a dessert for a bargain £15 on the night of our arrival – after a tiring rush-hour drive around the M25, we weren’t looking for anything more sophisticated.

On the following evening, we dined at the The Golden Ball Hotel in nearby Boxworth. Well-maintained and in a much prettier setting, this yielded much greater rustic charm: plates on ledges and the like. When ordering I checked that steak and ale pie would not be created by plonking an oval of puff pastry over a china dish containing the meat, swimming in gravy. The jovial landlord blanched at my enquiry the pie duly turned out to be home-made using thick shortcrust pastry – and very generous in size, too. My wife certainly enjoyed her lasagne, too.

For those with an interest in contemporary architecture, the hotel is located in Cambourne, a new village being built on farmland to the west of Cambridge. A development by a consortium of major house-builders, it owes a debt to Poundbury the model village in Dorset inspired by the Prince of Wales. My photos illustrate that modernism is nowhere to be seen; the vernacular is clearly in the ascendent once more.

In my next post, I’ll suggest ideas about what to see in Cambridge.

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