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In another county the charming, albeit tiny, city of Ely, with its Georgian terraces and medieval centre, complete with impressive cathedral, might easily become the main tourist hub. Or else the region's largest city, Peterborough, with its almost intact Norman cathedral, might qualify. But in Cambridgeshire it's Cambridge which takes the crown, with its twin lives of town and gown, all happening within splendid honey-coloured architecture. Indeed many of the best places to stay in Cambridgeshire can also be found here.
Cambridge definitely deserves to be a hub for visitors, but don't forget to look outwards across the spectacularly flat fens and see more of this charming and historic countryside.
Whether or not you're staying in Cambridge, there are a few things a visit to Cambridgeshire would be amiss without:
- strolling the 'Backs', the college gardens, to overhear the work of future poet laureates;
- having a drink in a student pub and play 'spot the future prime minister';
- lazing away an afternoon in the bottom of a punt;
- a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum, one of Britain's first public art museums;
- a peek the inside of Kings College Chapel;
- and the Round Church built by the Knights Templar;
- and seeing as much of Trinity, Peterhouse and Christ Church colleges as you can
Ely and Peterborough are certainly worth a day trip at least, both for their cathedrals. Ely also has a quirky little museum housed in the old gaol, and the Waterside Antiques Centre, which is the largest antiques market in East Anglia. Plus Oliver Cromwell's House Museum - yes, this is where the warty dictator lived when he was the local tithe collector.
In addition to its famous cathedral, Peterborough also has an impressive Museum and Art Gallery complex, and it's the closest centre to Burghley House, with its impressive park and gardens laid down by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Longthorpe Tower and Milton Hall, both famous buildings, are also nearby.
To go back further into Cambridgeshire's history, visit an exposed section old ancient Roman road, known as the Fen Causeway, or Flag Fen, the Bronze Age archaeological site.
Cambridgeshire is home to Duxford, where you'll find the Imperial War Museum's collection of aircraft, and more - this is also where they have the famous air shows! And T.S. Eliot's Little Gidding.
The Hotel Guru's selection of the best places to stay in Cambridgeshire are ideally located to make the most of this charming county, whether you simply want a short city break or if you plan to explore the whole area in more depth.
For visiting Cambridge
- Hotel Felix was once a Victorian villa and is now a charming hotel with an attractive garden and gourmet restaurant on the outskirts of Cambridge.
- The Varsity Hotel & Spa is very central and very new, with a design-y edge and its own spa, gym and cinema.
For rural Cambridgeshire
- Paddocks House once belonged to Lord Byron's sister, and has been converted into a luxury hotel on the edge of Newmarket.
- Poets House in Ely is an attractive townhouse hotel in the heart of the city, right opposite the cathedral. The decor is pretty 'bling' and the owners have tried to anticipate every luxury - including a bath butler.
Best Hotels in Cambridgeshire
Poets House 21 rooms from $146Ely, Cambridgeshire
Exciting new addition to Ely's hotel scene. Townhouse hotel in the heart of the city opposite the cathedral close. Service is key with personal butler's to draw your bath, and a luxurious vibe throughout. Lively bar for evenings in.Sights nearby - A stone's throw from the famous cathedralRoom service - Personal butlers at your beck and callViews - Great views of Ely CathedralRomantic - Good for couples.
The Varsity Hotel & Spa 48 rooms from $165Cambridge
Newish, central, contemporary hotel with plenty of light, great roof terrace and cinema, chic design details and a useful spa and gym.Cinema - Rooftop cinema in fine weatherViews - Rooftop and river Cam views from many rooms (but not all!)SpaRecommended by - I Escape, Tablet, Good Hotel Guide
Paddocks House 15 rooms from $170Newmarket (Six Mile Bottom)
Former country house of Lord Byron's sister which has been turned into a luxury hotel on the edge of Newmarket. Bedrooms are contemporary in style: hues of grey with enormous copper statement bathtubs. Great spot for a romantic escape or simply ideal if you're spending a day at the races.Views - All bedrooms have lovely views over the surrounding countrysideGreat walks - Good for walkers.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.
Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Cambridge 37 rooms from $214Cambridge
Beautifully renovated university building. Rooms boast a range of architecturally quirky features and a number of unique suites. Library, French-stle bistro and bar available, offering a comfortable and relaxing stay in Cambridge city centre.Sights nearby - Well located in Cambridge city centre for historic sights of Cambridge University.Cots available - All children under 2 years stay free of charge for children's cots/cribs.Restaurant - French-style bistro offering A La Carte or Prix Fixe menusWedding license - Possible to book entire hotel for weddings.