As a quaint city situated to the North of London, Cambridge possesses a certain charm that is almost impossible to put into words. Whilst its major selling points are the exemplary University, ranked first in the United Kingdom, and the fact Prince William and Catherine Middleton are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the city has more to offer than Higher Education and royalty. The mixture of University buildings, dating back to the late 13th century, and modern shopping centres and establishments, only adds to the effortless beauty of the city. With a population of approximately 120,000 people, a trip to Cambridge is ideal for anyone wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of London for a weekend. It’s just a short train journey away from London, so once you’ve read our Hip & Healthy Guide to Cambridge, book your ticket, pack a bag and prepare for your escape to the countryside!
The Varsity Hotel & Spa
The Varsity is a boutique hotel in Cambridge with 44 cosy individual rooms. Each of the rooms intertwines the cultural heritage of Cambridge into their design and even their names, for example, the ‘Graduate Doubles Rooms’ and ‘The Senior Fellows Suites’, paying homage to the University heritage. A highlight of the hotel is the gym and spa facilities on offer. During your stay, you have the option of booking a personal trainer who will assess your fitness level, help you to set goals and motivate you during a session. Alternatively, the hotel boasts a fitness studio with a range of classes. To renew your body, why not enjoy a deep tissue sports massage, or to properly wind down, the Elemis spa has a variety of treatments to help you feel your best.
Following a two-year renovation, on August the 1st the University Arms Cambridge hotel reopened its doors to the public. The hotel was recreated by architect John Simpson, alongside interior designer Martin Brudnizki, who worked in association with both Buckingham and Kensington Palaces. The 192 rooms and suites spread across four floors and are undeniably British in style, featuring bespoke and leather-padded writing desks and tiered chandeliers. Guests can choose between either cosy, classic or superior rooms, or opt for one of the twelve premium suites, complete with walk-on balconies. Take a timeout in their library, get your sweat on in their 24-hour luxury gym, and then treat yourself in their restaurant, ‘Parker’s Tavern’, complete with long tables, stained glass windows and banquettes to replicate Cambridge College dining halls!
Stem & Glory
With two locations in Cambridge, this restaurant will fulfil all of your plant-based dreams. Stem & Glory was established by Louise, owner of CAMYOGA and long-term vegan, and is one of the few 100% vegan restaurants Cambridge has to offer. Choose something from their juice and smoothie menu to cleanse the palette, and then enjoy their daily brunch menu at their King Street venue, served until 3:30, or dinner served until 22:00 pm Monday-Thursday and 23:00 pm on weekends at Chesterton Road. Enjoy a gluten-free lasagne or gourmet burger or opt for raw Japanese nori rolls or kimchi pancakes for a lighter option. Sweet tooth? Their brunch banana bread or selection of desserts should do the trick!
In Cambridge for a special occasion and fancy more of a fine dining experience? Then Cotto is definitely the place for you. Situated in The Gonville Hotel, the food at Cotto is both delicious to eat and a masterpiece to look at. Each of their meals is created by the chef in the Cotto kitchen using natural ingredients, so little wonder Cotto was named in the Sunday Times Top 100 restaurants in the country. Alongside their fish and meat options, Cotto also caters perfectly for vegetarians with their decadent vegetarian platter. What’s not to love?
After enjoying a cocktail at the rooftop bar at the Varsity Hotel, walk a flight down to stairs to Six for panoramic views across the Cambridge skyline. The restaurant is open all day serving dishes from their Wood Stone oven, Grill and Rotisserie, as well as a daily Afternoon Tea sitting between 2pm-5: 30 pm, using fresh and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Better still, their weekend brunch menu is served until 4:30 pm, so enjoy your lie in without worrying about whether you’ve missed breakfast.
From the founder of Stem & Glory, CAMYOGA is a social enterprise designed to improve the health and wellbeing of Cambridge citizens. With all their profit being reinvested in new locations, facilities and supporting those who would normally not have sufficient funds to train, CAMYOGA is definitely spreading good in the world through exercise. They offer a variety of classes, ranging from yin and restorative yoga to hot yoga, and if you’re planning to visit Cambridge more often, they offer new clients 30 days of unlimited classes for just £30.
Milan Fitness is a gym situated a few miles outside of central Cambridge, offering personal and group training sessions to a variety of clientele. The opportunity to work closely with two trainers is perfect for those who need an extra push or are looking to expand their fitness knowledge. They also run daily Bootcamps, which combine exercise with a friendly and fun atmosphere, so prepare for tyre flipping, cone dodging and a whole lot of running during these sweaty sessions.
Let’s Run Girls Cambridge
Started by a group of like-minded women living in Cambridge, Let’s Run Girls is perfect for those of you who want to meet local people and explore the running routes in the city. All sessions are led by a group of qualified volunteer-run leaders and are designed to be enjoyable and easy-going. They are also completely free, with the option of a small donation to train up new leaders. They run regular 5k sessions, so keep up to date with their Facebook page for all the information.
You haven’t completed a trip to Cambridge unless you’ve been punting, just ask the likes of the Beckham’s or Amanda Holden who have taken a trip down the river. A punt is a long, narrow boat propelled with a pole, and taking a trip on one of these for an hour or two is the best way to explore the city. Book a private or shared tour to learn more about the history of Cambridge, or if you don’t mind running the risk of falling in the river, have a go yourself! The perfect Instagram opportunity.
words by Harriet Prior