Hotel Of The Week: Hotel Felix, Cambridge

Who thinks of taking a break in Cambridge? Perhaps too few. Yet if you venture east you'll find a pretty university city worth exploring and fashionable lodgings at the Hotel Felix

I've just come back from a weekend in Cambridge. There, you don't hear that very often, do you. Bath, Oxford, York, yes. But Cambridge? Well, why not? It has much to recommend it: the elegant architecture of the university colleges, ancient and modern; the gentle landscape of the "Backs", where picnickers sit on the grassy banks of the river Cam watching the punts float by; and a compact heart of pedestrianised streets that encourages strolling at window-shopping pace.

I suspect Cambridge might have itself to blame. It doesn't seem to want to shout about its assets. Just log on to visitcambridge. org and you'll see what I mean. Yet, it's well connected to London and the Midlands and offers city amenities with easy access to rural pastures.

Surely one of the city's problems has been the lack of anywhere tempting to stay. Then Hotel Felix opened its doors a couple of years ago, putting the little city on the boutique hotel circuit with its minimalist styling, destination restaurant and access to a Conran-designed spa.

Centring on a Victorian mansion, with modern wings accommodating most of the bedrooms, the hotel is a curious architectural mix. From some angles it looks like a modern university building and inside there is an air of "institution" in its ramped corridors and around the reception counter. But step into its Victorian heart and the atmosphere is more intimate. It's a shame that this isn't the part of the building guests first encounter (the car park sits at the end of one of those modern wings), especially the lovely façade with a terrace overlooking the garden.

The location

Just outside the city centre, off Huntingdon Road.

The comfort factor

Bedrooms come in five styles - Felix, Classic, Premier, Junior Suites and the Penthouse - spread across the original Victorian house and the modern wings. They offer generous square footage, big beds dressed in soft white linen and ample desk space. The style is minimalist but not sparse, though the colour palette is heavy on the browns, which contrasted with the predominantly white walls makes the place look plain rather than warm. Hi-tech goodies include CD player, satellite TV, pay movies, internet connections and Wi-Fi.

The bathroom

The tasteful slate-lined bathrooms have baths and, in some, monsoon showers. Toiletries are by The White Company.

The food and drink

Graffiti is a contemporary restaurant serving British cooking with a Mediterranean influence. Its gourmet menu is not shy of describing dishes in the kind of detail that reveals ingredients you'd be advised to store in your memory lest you receive the call from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. (Just what is sumac, or, indeed, zander?) It's solid fare with enough frills to reassure diners that they are being spoiled: baked Dover sole is accompanied by mushroom duxelle and parsley snails; risotto piperade comes with deep-fried quail's egg and air-dried vegetables. Lunch from £12.50 per head. About £35 per head for dinner without wine.

The people

Business traffic during week (hence all that desk space in the bedrooms), lots of parents visiting their bright kids at the university, weekending couples.

The area

All the delights mentioned above. Plus, guests receive complimentary passes to The Glassworks Health Club and Aveda Hair and Beauty Spa in the city centre.

The access

Wheelchair access throughout. Four modified rooms available for guests with disabilities. Children and small pets welcome.

The damage

Nightly rates from £168 for a Felix King to £275 for the Penthouse, including continental breakfast, parking and taxes. Two-night breaks from £250 to £515 per room, including the above plus £30 per person towards dinner in Graffiti. Book four days in advance for discounted rooms from £99 per night. If you book online you will receive a 5 per cent discount.

The address

Hotel Felix, Whitehouse Lane, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0LX (01223 277977; hotelfelix.co.uk).

LIKED THAT? TRY THESE:

* Give Reading a second look. Make the boutique Forbury Hotel (08000 789 789; theforburyhotel. co.uk) your base for exploring the city

* How about a weekend in Exeter? The trendy place to stay is the Alias Barcelona (01392 281000; aliashotels.com)

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss