Cambridge. A small city that’s big in heart and has in many ways shaped the world today. Only 50 minutes by train from London, I don’t know why I’d never visited before especially as my dad once called the city home whilst studying for his undergraduate degree. The wedding of my friends Jess and Ben was the motivation that took us there and I’m so glad that we finally made it.
There aren’t many luxury hotels in around Cambridge city centre so I opted for brand new boutique hotel, The Tamburlaine. The name also spoke to my roots as an English Literature student as it references the famous play by Shakespeare’s contemporary, Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe himself once lived in Cambridge, studying for his Batchelor of Arts degree at Corpus Christi College.
Honestly, I hadn’t planned to blog about my stay at The Tamburlaine, sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy a hotel without worrying about scurrying around photographing everything and suffering through cold breakfasts. But when I saw it I could help myself!
Speaking of literature, the lobby is lined with bookshelves and old fashioned tomes giving a welcoming feeling as soon as you enter. Deep plush sofas, an open fire and antique silk rugs provide an old world theme that contrasts with the funky tiles and slick geometric shapes.
The ceiling soars double height and beautiful contemporary-style chandeliers hang down.
Head up that staircase and you’ll find the Library, a super cosy space that again beautifully merges the modern with the traditional.
My favourite room was the Garden Room which I suspect may have been designed with Instagram in mind. Those tiled floors, pink sofas, marbles tables, palm plants and that gorgeous mural are all just begging to be ‘grammed.
Talk about interior goals? I seriously wanted to decorate my entire flat in this style – I mean I’ll at least be purchasing those pink cups.
The restaurant was gorgeous too with an eye-catching wooden bar topped with marble and inviting red stools. If you’re stopping for dinner there’s the choice of cosy booths or tables with a mixture of wood or marble blending together so it appears eclectic but still classic. All the furnishings felt so new, fresh and high quality and it’s not difficult to see the effects of the £50 million pounds that have been invested into this hotel.
The room categories have been named to reflect the famous university and you can choose between Fresher, Scholar and Dean. Being there for the wedding and without the need of a big room, I opted for Fresher.
Decorated in Cambridge blue with an elegant oversized wooden head board it was a small but perfectly formed room.
I loved the retro touches such as the telephone and the retro Roberts radio.
And the gorgeous vintage tea set. The marble bathroom was ideal for a little weekend away and snuggly towels and luxurious toiletries were included. With the high quality interiors and amenities and personalised service, this four star hotel had little to differentiate itself from a five star hotel. Though do be warned it does lack extra services such as a spa, gym and business facilities and Mr S couldn’t get hot food from room service in the evening.
I’d actually headed to Cambridge early in order to spend time with my friend Traze who’d also be attending the wedding. Traze came to Jersey and Vienna with me and we have another UK break coming up which we’re super excited about. I left my camera in the room as we got glammed up and had a drink at the hotel bar before heading into town. We had dinner at Sticks ‘n Sushi before going back to the hotel to meet Mr S.
Breakfast at the hotel is a choice between buffet and à la carte options. And I chose this gorgeous round marble which could have just been made for flatlays. After lining our stomachs I headed into the city to get my hair blow dried at Toni and Guy. Location-wise The Tamburlaine is ideal too – it’s literally opposite Cambridge station and it’s only a twenty minute walk into town.
Back at the hotel and I got all dressed up in my new dress and shoes – the hotel’s pink sofas making the perfect backdrop. Jess and Ben’s wedding was quite honestly one of the most beautiful I’d ever attended and I was absolutely thrilled to be part of their special day.
The next day Mr S and I staved off our hangovers with a good breakfast and decided to spend the whole day exploring Cambridge and return to London late at night. The hotel concierge recommended heading to The Anchor for lunch.
The pub is right by the riverside and, ok, a little touristy but some of the other restaurants that we passed could have been anywhere and here we truly felt like we were in Cambridge as we watched the punts drift by. It’s also famous for being where local band, Pink Floyd first performed.
The food’s not out of this world but it’s tasty enough and you can go best of British with a plate of bangers and mash or fish and chips or just fill up on a hearty bowl of pasta.
After lunch was decided to give punting a go. For £150 you can hire a private punt with your own driver or you can go for the less pricey option of sharing a boat. I’d definitely recommend taking driver as he gave us lots of information on the history of the city – plus I certainly wasn’t taking the risk of falling into the River Cam which is apparently a very frequent occurrence.
You can pick up a bottle of bubbles at the local wine merchant and we also saw lots of places selling Punting picnics, something I’d definitely do next time I come.
Our guide told us the City itself was 2,000 years old and dates back to the Bronze age. The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209 making it the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world with the oldest being Oxford University. It is of course widely regarded as one of the world’s best universities.
There are 31 colleges that make up Cambridge University and on this tour we were able to see eight of them. The college above is King’s College, originally founded by Henry VI shortly after he’d founded sister college Eton.
And that line above about Cambridge being a small city that has shaped the world today? Well I borrowed that from our guide as he told us about some of the famous alumni such as Isaac Newton, one of the most influential scientists of all time, Ernest Rutherford who split the atom and Charles Darwin who later had a college named after him.
Another famous Cambridge alumni was world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. The young Hawking studied at Oxford (apparently doing little work) before moving to Trinity Hall, Cambridge to gain his Ph. D. It was while here shortly after his 21st birthday that he was diagnosed with ALS, a form of motor neurone disease, and only given two years to live but is still alive to day aged 75.
Fascinated by the history of Hawking, Mr S and I downloaded the biopic, The Theory of Everything. The film is set in Cambridge (and even features the Anchor pub) and details his life and relationship with his wife Jane Hawking nee Wilde who was a fellow Cambridge student. Though there were a few holes in the film plot, I found it compelling viewing and the acting from Eddie Redmayne who plays Hawking is outstanding.
Our guide took us back to The Anchor and the punting station where we said goodbye to explore the rest of the city.
We popped into local favourite cafe, Fitzbillies for a coffee and an ice cream before going for a walk to admire the architecture of the historic city.
Passing the beautiful churches, colleges and green spaces – had we more time I would have loved to take a walking tour and find out more about the paths well trodden by the Cambridge luminaries.
But there was one more place that I wanted to visit – part of my own family history.
My dad was 17 when he went to Fitzwilliam College Cambridge to study Mathematics.
And I’ve heard many stories of his biking around the city, days of playing bridge and generally having a good time. It was amazing to see the college finally for myself. After sending my dad the picture, Mr S and I headed back into to town to find somewhere nice for dinner. Trinity and Varsity were the two nicest restaurant that we passed by but they were fully booked so we decided to head back to The Tamburlaine.
Mr S feasted on a huge lamb chop whilst I went for sea bass with chorizo and mash, we really liked the food and there an excellent wine list and bread selection too.
I seriously loved our day out in Cambridge for the obvious personal reasons but also discovering such a fantastic historic town, made even better by our stay at The Tamburlaine Hotel.
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