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“Mostly perfect!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Varsity Hotel & Spa

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The Varsity Hotel & Spa
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Thompson's Lane, Cambridge CB5 8AQ, England   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 34 Hotels in Cambridge
Colchester, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
54 hotel reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“Mostly perfect!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2013

The location is great - surrounded by restaurants and pubs, plus the river. The room was modern but homely and very comfortable. The valet parking worked very well, plus the door man was a lovely chap. I enjoyed an excellent full body massage at the spa whilst my husband appreciated use of the gym. We had an excellent dinner at the restaurant. My only complaints relate to service. We were checked in hurriedly and not offered the complimentary turn down service. Plus the service at breakfast was very poor (although the cooked breakfast itself was delicious). We had to wait half an hour for our food.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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1,299 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (369)
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Hertfordshire
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2013

We stayed @ the hotel for our anniversary just for one night and it would have been lovely to spend more time there. This feels like a small intimate place compared to some large well known chains and we would definitely stay there again. It's lovely to arrive early, make use of the valet parking and pop into Cambridge, then return and use the spa before dinner.

thanks for a lovely break.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Bedford
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2013

Great hotel in a perfect location. Walking distance from centre of Cambridge. Very good service from friendly staff. Lovely room and bathroom with decor in hotel that was quirky and cool. Absolutely loved the pictures! Breakfast was very good.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Dublin, ireland
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2013

Perfect checkin. Had keys in about 30 seconds. Lovely room with great views over the city. Breakfast in bed was very good and reasonably priced. Staff all very helpful and friendly. Would stay here in Cambridge again.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Stamford, United Kingdom
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
81 helpful votes 81 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2013

Just returned from a weekend break at the Varsity for my husband’s birthday. I concur with others on TA that this really is the best choice for an upmarket stay in central Cambridge right now. I personally think it fully deserves its current No1 rating. When we last stayed in Cambridge, the Varsity wasn’t yet opened and we really struggled to find something that fitted our fantasy criteria – which was a classy boutique hotel, right in the centre, preferably by the river, with parking. The only game in town back then (2010?) was the Hotel du Vin, which has similar rates and is lovely, but I think the Varsity pips it at the post when it comes to location and ‘extras’. It’s just that little bit closer to the heart of town than Hotel du Vin - a mere stone’s throw to the most famous colleges (King’s, St John’s, Trinity, etc), the beautiful expanse of Jesus Green (lovely for a walk), scores of restaurants (ie, at least 5 or 6 within 100m), and oodles of shopping if you want it. And it’s on the river (Hotel du Vin isn’t), which, even if you’re not allocated a river-view room, is still such a treat. You can hire a punt literally from right outside the door. Valet parking at £18 was a no-brainer – pull up outside and your car is whisked away, brought back again ready to drive away at the time you specify (up to 5pm on the day you check out, which leaves you pretty much the whole day to continue exploring Cambridge)

You also get the advantage of using the well-equipped gym with its fabulous beamed ceiling, and the spa’s sauna, steam room and hot tub (small, but looks out onto the river, how nice is that?) all included in the price. You can book various Elemis spa treatments for extra cost. Plus, there’s the roof terrace, which was closed at time of our visit due to snow and generally horrible weather, but must be amazing when it’s open and is probably unique in all Cambridge (they do state on the website that they cannot guarantee the terrace will be open if the weather is inclement, so do be prepared that it might be closed if it’s cold or rainy). If you happen to be there on a Saturday, you can also take advantage of their free walking tour of Cambridge with a guide, it leaves the hotel at 2pm. Just another of those many little extra that sets the Varsity apart and justifies the price in my opinion.

Which leads me on to the staff… just excellent. So genuinely warm and charming and helpful, they are an absolute credit to the hotel. I’m useless at remembering names, sorry, but we didn’t come across anyone who was less than lovely, from the delightful reception team, to the distinguished doorman, to the young man who retrieved our car and waved us off, to the hard-working friendly wait staff in the ‘attached’ River Bar where we ate dinner (optional) and breakfast (included in the room rate). I know it’s subjective, but I can’t understand the few reviews that complain about the service – in our experience, it was highly professional and courteous, but relaxed and unfusty at the same time.

Re. the restaurant, some reviewers were unhappy that they had to walk outside the hotel to access the adjacent restaurant for breakfast or dinner, but that didn’t bother us at all. It’s honestly less than one minute to get from one to the other, and even if it’s raining, they have a stack of umbrellas at the hotel entrance so you won’t arrive drenched!

The last thing I suppose I should comment on is the room/general ambience. The hotel’s communal areas are smart, chic-but-quirky, and the cosy guest lounge/sitting room on the first floor (with bar service on request) looked great, but we didn’t do more than peer in out of curiosity. And yes, the reception area is small, but how important is that really in the scale of things?

We loved our room (upgraded to a 4th floor Senior Fellows superking suite no 414 ), with separate sitting room and bedroom. HUGE and comfortable bed with quality linens, stylish sitting area, flat screen TVs in both bedroom and sitting room. Tea and coffee making facilities including a cafetiere and a teapot (small but welcome details). The bathroom was average sized, with bath over shower, but with quality fittings and was absolutely spotless. If I had one little niggle it was that the bedside lights were so dim, it was hard to read by them. But really, that’s splitting hairs, we thought the modern yet tastefully eclectic room décor was beautifully done on the whole.

It’s true that you only get the impressive vistas from the upper floors and/or the rear of the hotel where it faces the river. And one side of the hotel (the side we were on) does indeed overlook a little three-storey office building and a small service yard, which is obviously not as charming as unfettered views of dreaming spires, but it’s really not that bad either considering the advantages of the location in general! You can always request a particular room position if you book with the hotel direct – and although they can’t guarantee it (unless you book the penthouse, of course!) they seem to make every effort to be accommodating where possible. They certainly did in our case.

Note: They seem to have regular deals and packages on the website, so do look out for those if you can be a bit flexible on dates – eg at time of writing they had a Sunday-night offer on, not far off half the price of the standard rate and with a two-course dinner (no breakfast) included. When we booked ourselves, we weren’t particularly looking for a discount as our dates were fixed, but discovered on the phone that they had a very good January offer running - approx £100 cheaper than the standard rate for a Senior Fellows Superking room. So always worth checking direct I reckon - but I’d still choose this place over any other in Cambridge, even if I had to pay full price.

Overall, if it’s within your price range I’d recommend booking here without hesitation - if you want a cut-above Cambridge experience right in the heart of the city, with thoughtful extras, super facilities and fab staff, The Varsity is very hard to beat!

Room Tip: Book with the hotel direct on the phone - you're more likely to get your room preference accommo...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2013

Beautifully designed and chic hotel just minutes from the high street. Modern style but comfortable rather than angular. Friendly staff, excellent breakfast in the spa part of the hotel, one minute round the corner. We were upgraded to a Senior Fellows Super King Room, The only reason we haven't given it five stars is because the room was a little under heated for our taste (admittedly the temperature plummeted that weekend to minus 5). It might have been because we were on the corner of the hotel, which did, however, mean we had stunning views in two directions. The valet parking worked well. Would definitely stay again and would recommend.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2013

We booked a Sunday special package for a short getaway to celebrate our anniversary. No regrets at all, excellent all round service and perfect first time experience of Cambridge.

We took advantage of the valet parking, which was both convenient and probably the cheapest way to park. The room was very clean, nicely furnished and had excellent views.

The only negative point for us was that we requested a room with a Victorian roll top bath, a selling point for choosing the higher spec room, however this room must have been booked at the time. We did not even manage to get one with a monsoon shower, which again was a selling point for the Superking.

We made use of the on-site spa which had a gym, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room included in the deal. We also went to the restaurant, that is connected to the hotel for dinner and breakfast, where the service and food were both excellent.

The staff were friendly and helpful, we arrived early and left after we had checked out with no issues. All in all a very nice hotel.

If we were to stay in Cambridge again then this would definitely be on our shortlist.

Room Tip: A high room on the corner would be my choice again for the views.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Varsity Hotel & Spa

Address: Thompson's Lane, Cambridge CB5 8AQ, England
Phone Number:
Location: United Kingdom > England > Cambridgeshire > Cambridge
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Cambridge
#1 Business Hotel in Cambridge
#1 Luxury Hotel in Cambridge
#3 Family Hotel in Cambridge
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — The Varsity Hotel & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 48
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Varsity Hotel & Spa is located on the edge of the picturesque River Cam in the heart of Cambridge and just yards from St John's, Trinity and Magdalene College. The remaining Colleges are only a leisurely walk away and can be viewed from the hotel. Ideally situated for punting, shopping, sight-seeing and nightlife, The Varsity hotel guests are truly immersed in the culture and charm of Cambridge life from the moment they arrive. Valet parking available from 7 am to 10 pm ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Varsity Hotel And Spa
The Varsity Hotel Cambridge

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