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“Probably the best hotel in central Cambridge”

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The Varsity Hotel & Spa
Ranked #1 of 36 Hotels in Cambridge
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level Contributor
96 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Probably the best hotel in central Cambridge”
Reviewed August 14, 2013

I used to live in Cambridge, which is well known for its overfull, mediocre hotels (which they get away with due to the constant trade from tourists & students' parents).

I've stayed in this hotel once or twice before, which is the best one of various I've stayed in in central Cambridge, and hence probably the best one there is. (Hotel Felix is equally good, but located on the edge of the city.)

The Varsity Hotel is located on a backstreet but a short walk from colleges, shops, the river and Jesus Green.

My room was modern and stylish. It had no view to mention, but some rooms presumably do have good views across the city and Jesus Green. The bed & pillows were firm - certainly to my taste (though perhaps not everyone's).

The bathroom, equally modern and stylish, had one of those showers with a giant showerhead, which worked well and was sufficiently directional that the shower didn't need a door. The shower tray filled up alarmingly quickly with water (as it didn't seem to flow out fast enough), but didn't actually overflow so no problem.

My room was fairly quiet, but I suspect the hotel was not very busy. The only thing disturbing my sleep was the ventilation, which (even with the air conditioning off) seemed to switch itself on with a loud click several times during the night, waking me up. That said, I am a light sleeper.

A few catering details could be improved: the room had no minibar, implausibly citing environmental reasons - so you must order room service to get most things. Bottled water and tea/coffee were provided in the room, though the cups were fancy smallish coffee cups, too small for drinking tea. (No biscuits either.)

Breakfast was served in the hotel's restaurant, which is in a separate building, requiring you to go out onto the street and round the corner - unusual but not a problem. Breakfast was excellent, and the restaurant has really splendid views across the river of college buildings and trees.

There is an apparently elaborate spa/gym attached, which I didn't use; it only opens at 8am - not ideal for people wanting to exercise before work, but anyway.

The staff were helpful.

So overall the hotel is excellent, with a few minor points for improvement.

Room Tip: Ask for a view! (Since some rooms presumably have excellent views.)
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank bf99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (567)
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English first
Rome, Italy
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 13, 2013

What to like about this place: nice friendly service when you walk in, Smart friendly doorman on arrival, staff not intrusive and interested in your trip. Room was on the fifth floor over looking the Colleges, wonderful view and Elemis products in bathroom an added bonus. Large bottle of mineral water in room is something I would l ike to see in every hotel nice touch. Air conditioned room was good as it was hot when we visited- Lovely beds and good night's sleep. Breakfast in building next door was plentiful and good quality, Roof top breathtaking. Nicely designed, great views, not cheap but reassuringly expensive otherwise the whole of Cambridge would be there. full marks

What not to like: not a lot really, reception a little small when all checking out at the same time, I would have liked a bath, but shower powerful and bathroom really well set out with good storage, , We do quibble nowadays unnecessarily about these minor things I feel sometimes but there are my quibbles.

Overall excellent service and quality for price

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Susan G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed August 13, 2013

We recently attended The Rooftop Bar at The Varsity Hotel as guests of a wedding party that were having pre dinner drinks. The weather was nice and the views were absolutely stunning! With a full 360 degree view over the rooftops of Cambridge, it was great to get a bird's eye view over the town I grew up in. We spent some good times identifying buildings we were familiar with and in some directions you can see to the countryside on the perimeter of Cambridge. I would definitely recommend a visit for a drink and have added to my list of nice places to take family and friends.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Rob C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed August 13, 2013

We just got back from a short break in Cambridge where we stayed at The Varsity. The hotel is in an excellent location on the river in the middle of Cambridge. We had a lovely time , they booked the punting on the river , well worth doing which is right next door and a taxi to take us to the Orchard. The weather was great so we relaxed in the orchard for the whole day.
The hotel is modern and old mix with superb facilities , the only annoying thing was the men's Spa room which was being completely refurbished so I had to shower back in my room .

The facilities are good , the location even better.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank morgan j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed August 12, 2013

The Varsity Hotel was a real find. The reception staff were friendly and very helpul. Our room was lovely with beautiful views over the city on two sides. The bathroom was huge with a super waterfall shower and plenty of large towels. The Roof Top Bar was good though service could have been better. We had a fantastic stay in Cambridge; loved the city loved the hotel!

Room Tip: Go for a room on the top 2 floors only if you want a view
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank M B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Douglas, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed August 12, 2013

My wife and I stayed here for two nights having travelled around the UK for a fortnight. This hotel was the biggest disappointment of them all. The best was the White Swan in Stratford Upon Avon.

The hotel room itself was fine, but little things like not enough milk, biscuits etc, was an annoyance, yes you could ask for more but why should you have to, It's only a little thing but when you are paying around £250 per night you expect it to be right, the White swan for example had everything you needed and the milk was proper milk in little cartons at less than half the price.

The roof top bar, I would imagine is very nice on a nice day, but we didn't have a nice day, so is there an inside bar? not that I could find and in any event having had to spend £20 for a short and a PIMMs I was off too a local tavern where we had a great time.

I also observed that some of the guests were right stuck up snobs who thought they were something special, didn't realise we still had a class system in the country but go here and you can see it in action, I am sure the members of staff have to bite their tongues quite often.

All I can say about my experience is the location is great and the staff friendly so if you dont mind paying way too much for what you get and are not put off by mixing with some snobs, feel free and book it, but if you at least want some hint at value for money stay well clear as unless money is no object you will feel ripped off.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank brian136
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed August 11, 2013

We stayed in the Fellows King Room which is charged at £245 a night. This was a Mr & Mrs Smith recommended hotel, who usually have great recommendations. Unfortunately the Varsity Hotel was rather disappointing.

Negatives
- The room was quite small (definitely not worth the price charged)
- Shower pressure was a joke!
- The decor, especially the wallpaper, needs a little TLC [see pic]
- Average breakfast
- Poor and disinterested service in the restaurant and lounge bar
- Stale cookies (which you have to ring reception for)
- Wifi kept cutting out
- Broken staircase banister
- Really dirty carpets in the hallways [see pic]

Positives
- Fantastic location
- Good coffee in the room
- Rooftop bar has great views

Overall I won't stay at the Varsity Hotel again. The small room, poor service and lack of boutique hotel touches made for a disappointing stay.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank DMMB
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

Property: 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 Luxury Hotel in Cambridge
#2 Business Hotel in Cambridge
#2 Family Hotel in Cambridge
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — The Varsity Hotel & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 44
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. 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. Recharge in the wonderful Elemis spa before soaking up the beautiful skyline with drinks on the hotel's roof terrace,afternoon tea or dinner in the Six Panoramic Bar & Restaurant. Alternatively, guests can indulge in a hearty meal in the River Bar Steakhouse & Grill. Valet parking available from 7 am to 10 pm for hotel's guests. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Varsity Hotel And Spa
The Varsity Hotel Cambridge

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