University Challenge: Where to Stay in Cambridge
From leafy, family-friendly suburbs to up-and-coming communities and the historical centre – here's where to stay in Cambridge.
Fun fact: Cambridge University Library gets a free copy of every book published in the UK, resulting in a collection of millions. (But whatever rumours you may have heard from freshers at the university, there is no collection of Victorian pornography on its shelves.) All in all, though, Victorian nudie mags or not, there’s a lot of knowledge within those walls, and indeed in the city itself. So you’ll want a good night’s sleep after (hopefully) absorbing some of it.
Enter Plum Guide. Our home critics have professionally vetted each and every one of the holiday rentals on our books to make sure we list only the top 3%. They’ve scrutinised the design accents and numerous practical details like water pressure – even the decibel level, so you’ll be sleeping sound in your Plum Guide apartment in Cambridge. But which neighbourhood to choose? Read on for our pick of where to stay in Cambridge.
The Historic Centre
Staying in the Historic Centre of Cambridge – maybe in a Victorian townhouse or perhaps a 17th century timber-frame home – will position you near some of the city’s finest cultural institutions. You’ll be close to The Fitzwilliam Museum, housing one of the most significant collections of internationally important art and artefacts outside London, which covers everything from medieval manuscripts to fine art. Plus, you’ll also be close to the university’s famous colleges (many of them will let you in free of charge or for a small fee: there’s a comprehensive list of them here) and the gothic King’s College Chapel, which contains the Rubens painting, ‘Adoration of the Magi’. And if you do end up in the city’s Eagle pub (famous for containing a ceiling’s worth of graffiti by Allied pilots who fought in World War Two and for being where Francis Crick and James Watson announced their discovery of DNA), you’ll find your way to bed in no time. Plum Guide home Solstice is where to stay in Cambridge is you want to be at the heart of the action. It's mere steps from Midsummer Common and it manages trussed-up Georgian chic with aplomb – especially in the bathroom, with its free-standing tub and striking fish scene wallpaper.
The Romsey Area, with Mill Road running through it, is one of Cambridge’s up-and-comers. Known for its community feel, it's filled with independent coffee shops, hip cafes and holds an annual Winter Fair, which fills Mill Road with independent stalls, buskers and poets. Plum Guide home Retroeur is at the heart of the action, close to Mill Road, and has its own charming back garden, a farmhouse kitchen and trendy design flourishes (think palm-print wallpaper, gold pineapple lamps and geometric prints). The light, airy conservatory here seals the deal with this three-bedroom property.
For a villagey vibe that would suit families, Chesterton is where to stay in Cambridge (especially around the De Freville Avenue area – mostly home to doctors and university lecturers). Accommodation-wise, Chesterton is one of Cambridge’s more well-to-do neighbourhoods (with the property prices to match), so you’ll find spacious, up-market properties here – from Victorian townhouses to modern homes and chic riverside flats. Peaceful, leafy streets are the order of the day here and neighbourhood staples include the Radmore Farm Shop and the Stir cafe and bakery.
Technically a village in its own right but very close to Cambridge – just across Grantchester Meadows, immortalised in a certain Pink Floyd song – is Grantchester. It might be most recently known for being the brooding setting for the TV detective drama of the same name (you might recognise the Grade II listed church) but there’s more to Grantchester than murder mysteries and prog rock. The intellectual weight of this little spot is pretty significant, too: Cambridge students have frequented Grantchester for more than 700 years, and Alan Turing is said to have conceived the idea of artificial intelligence while running on Grantchester Meadows. So it’s little surprise that Grantchester is said to have the highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners in the world. It’s also home to The Orchard Tea Garden, whose trees were first planted in 1868, and which has been visited by many famous names from Virginia Woolf and Bertrand Russell to Stephen Hawking. You never know, maybe some of that brilliance will rub off while you’re staying here.