With its burnished copper columns of coded letters paying tribute to Alan Turing’s Enigma machine and piles of books on bedside tables, The Fellows House could be Cambridge’s 32nd and latest college. This is a place where concepts, theories, thoughts, and words flow like wine.
An oils portrait of distinguished Dr Davidson Nicol, the first black African fellow at Cambridge, dominates reception. College crests and DNA double helix plaster casts decorate the Folio Bar.
This new hotel, just an eight minute walk from Jesus Green, solves an age old problem: Cambridge’s medieval centre was designed for horses not cars. Beneath The Fellows House, there is a large and well-lit car park, with electric vehicle charging points. Crossing the River Cam, idyllic on a misty morning, it is an easy walk into Cambridge.
Designed for both short and long stays, there is a home from home welcoming feel to The Fellows House. Families exploring Cambridge, folk on business for a few months, and even mature students working on a Masters degree, all settle into life at this Hilton Curio Collection property.
Featuring a well-equipped gym, sauna, steam room and small lap-pool, the hotel does well to look after residents’ health and wellness.
Although there are a number of Kipling rooms, they are outnumbered by apartments, evolving into Darwin duplex suites, where heading upstairs to bed gives a sense of going to bed in your own house.
The one-bedroom Gormley apartments, named after Trinity College alumnus Sir Antony, like all of the apartments, have a kitchen area. A cookery book and a two-minute walk to a small supermarket encourage long-stay guests to creatively self-cater in a well-equipped kitchen of fridge, hob, microwave, coffeemaker, toaster, kettle and dishwasher. Washing machines, for those keen to do their own laundry, are in the basement alongside the wellness facilities
As with every one of the 131 rooms and apartments, my Gormley apartment features a piece of artwork based around a quotation. Pithy wisdom from A.S. Byatt: “Art does not exist for politics or instruction. It exists primarily for pleasure, or it is nothing.” In all, interior design company Twenty2Degrees have scattered 163 quotes through The Fellows House.
Both lounge and bedroom have separate climate control and 49-inch televisions. Black and white photographic collages provide a sense of place: glimpses of gothic and neo-classical college architecture, punting through the Backs, hushed quads. Bathrooms are spacious featuring Hansgrohe rainfinity showers and Noir toiletries.
Food and drink
Deep tan sofas and well-stocked bookshelves may give the aura of a sedate college senior common room, but a pool table and smooth jazzy playlist make the Folio Bar far more lively.
Study the cocktail list carefully as smart cocktail staff in their waistcoats can whisk up drinks inspired by the published works of Cambridge alumni. Perhaps try a Life on Earth (Attenborough), History of Time (Hawking) or Enigma (Turing). Though If I May, a tribute to A.A. Milne, is nowhere as innocent as Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin et al.
The menu in the Folio Kitchen divides equally between plant-based and meat and fish. Somehow, with deconstructed poems decorating the restaurant’s wall, it seems appropriate to begin by pouring an aromatic broth onto a scholar’s bowl of faro, kale, mushroom and squash.
Alongside the beef, chicken and lamb, there are gnocchi with burrata, cabbage cannelloni, Romanesco with cassoulet, tempeh and slaw. The menu rings the changes for long-term residents with a fish catch of the day, the butcher’s choice and a pie of the day. In keeping with the décor, even the pear tarte tatin arrives deconstructed.
With a separate entrance, locals drop into The Sage of Cambridge, a café that begins the day by offering breakfast, perfectly located for grabbing a coffee for the walk into Cambridge.
An Alumni Tour is the best way to discover Cambridge’s attractions. A Cambridge graduate walks you through almost two millennia of Cambridge history, from the days when Boudicca gathered her forces to attack occupying Roman armies through to the College where Professor Stephen Hawking gave his series of lectures on the history of time.
Along the way there is the quintessential Cambridge view, captured on a thousand postcards, across the lawns to Kings College, then there is a stroll past Trinity College, founded by Henry Vlll, Cambridge’s richest college. Trinity also has an apple tree said to be grafted from a 17th century ancestor, whose dropping apple inspired Sir Isaac Newton.
Take a punt to the tea rooms at Grantchester where Bloomsbury writers including Rupert Brooke and Virginia Woolf once gathered.
In a nutshell
Inspirational interior design and deconstructed bikes and poems excitingly capture Cambridge’s intellectual energy. Contemporary luxury, which makes you feel as though you really could happily live here, coalesces with a remarkable sense of history.
Rooms can be booked from £170.
Address: 33A, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 1UZ
Phone: 01223 949499