Review: Idyllic and historic Cambridge is a city that has it all making it the perfect weekend destination

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With winding medieval streets peppered with stunning architecture and a fabulous food and drink scene, it is easy to see why Cambridge was named the best city in the UK in the 2022 Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards.

As I ambled around the picturesque city on a gloriously sunny spring day, taking a stroll through the leafy grounds of Emmanuel College, and looking up with awe at the magnificent spires of King’s College, the impressive history of the world-renowned university – and the city built around it – is inescapable.

But while the weight of tradition looms large, Cambridge is also a vibrant and modern city, with plenty of night life to enjoy, along with a fabulous food and drink scene. I particularly enjoyed the brunch offering at Hot Numbers, which gave me my first taste of sesame tofu.

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In short, Cambridge really is a city that has it all. And that is reflected in the cost of accommodation, which often tops £200 if you want a hotel of a good standard with a particularly central location.

Cambridge is a city that has it allCambridge is a city that has it all
Cambridge is a city that has it all

The Holiday Inn Cambridge provides you with a good compromise. It is just two miles outside of the city centre, with good transport links (including bus services on the Cambridge Busway, which forms part of the longest guided busway in the world) boasts a good standard of accommodation and amenities such a swimming pool and leisure centre, with the cost of a night’s stay from £77, depending on when you book.

The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, and little touches such as luggage trollies help to ensure that your stay is relaxing from the offset.

But if you don’t want to head straight to your room, there is a comfortable bar, with a good selection of drinks on offer, including a selection of local beers; as well as an elegantly-furnished lounge with a working fire, which was bustling with people enjoying themselves as we arrived.

I also liked the inclusion of a vending machine, packed filled with all of the modern essentials such as phone charging leads, in the reception area.

The loungeThe lounge
The lounge

The Holiday Inn Cambridge also has a picturesque courtyard, which is bound to be popular as we head into the summer months, and a great playground for youngsters. All of the grounds were very well-tended, and we enjoyed watching bunnies bouncing around in the sunshine.

The room we stayed in was spacious and airy, with a nice nod to Cambridge through the modern, graphic artwork in place. The luxuriously large bed was just the right level of firm, and the blackout blinds meant we had a wonderful night’s sleep. The powerful shower helped to reinvigorate us in the morning, and the bathroom was furnished with Dove toiletries.

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Our room and bathroom had the softest towels, and I also appreciated the efforts to go green with a wooden key card for the room, which isn’t something I’ve seen before.

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The hotel’s restaurant provides an excellent breakfast with everything you could possibly want, from a pancake making machine to a full English, to a continental selection, to a range of breads and croissants – as well as made to order items such as vegetarian sausages and omelettes.

The bar at the Holiday Inn ExpressThe bar at the Holiday Inn Express
The bar at the Holiday Inn Express

The plentiful breakfast is also available until 11am on weekends, giving you the option of a more leisurely morning. And if you treat yourself to a later start, you can also catch-up with the weekend newspapers, using the hotel’s complimentary WiFi, which gives you access to digital versions of the nationals, as well as magazines and games, among other types of media.

The restaurant also offers a sumptuous selection of evening meals, and we particularly enjoyed the Summer Vegetable Risotto and the Roasted Field Mushrooms with Chorizo.

In the Spirit Health Centre, you will find a medium-sized family-friendly pool with separate cordoned areas for swimming lengths and for leisure bathing, along with a warm spa pool, a larger-than-average Nordic sauna, a steam room, and loungers by the pool.

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Staff were friendly and a complimentary towel and a token for the lockers were great touches. There is also a compact gym, with a state-of-the-art sound system. It featured resistance and cardio machines and some free weights. There were TVs to look at in every direction, too.

The spacious bedroomThe spacious bedroom
The spacious bedroom

We really enjoyed our stay at the Holiday Inn Cambridge, which combines value for money, with excellent amenities and those little touches of luxury which can make all the difference during a weekend away.

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