Part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, a portfolio of one-off hotels and resorts handpicked for their distinctive character and unique charm, The Fellows House proves the perfect base to explore this historic city.
Home-from-home is an often- overused phrase, but when it came to thinking about how to describe The Fellows House, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, for me it proved to be entirely true. Having grown up in the area, my partner and I had both explored Cambridge hundreds of times, but for a special weekend away, we wanted to do things differently – as holidaymakers rather than locals. There is something undeniably appealing about the potential of seeing something new, or even seeing something you’ve seen many times before but experiencing it in a new way.
The Fellows House offers the perfect blend of luxury facilities and first-class service with home-from-home style accommodation
Relatively new to the Cambridge scene, the hotel only opened its doors in 2021; set amidst the city’s beautiful parkland areas and, backing onto the picturesque River Cam it’s a delightful base from which to explore. Designed with both long and short stays in mind, The Fellows House beautifully merges apartment-style luxury living and more traditional hotel accommodation with its mix of guest rooms and self-catering suites. Neither solely hotel nor apartments, it is a new breed of luxury aparthotel offering tiered pricing options based on length of stay. All of which makes it very attractive to a broad customer base – from those with an appetite for stress-free business travel, to visiting academics wanting a base in the city, and those, like us, simply seeking a luxury weekend break. Whether guests choose an en suite bedroom, a spacious apartment suite or a compact but well-equipped studio, they are assured the exclusive comfort of home with the service and thoughtful design of a boutique hotel.
Where design is concerned, The Fellows House has pulled out all the stops with a luxurious aesthetic that plays on its historic location. From the copper-clad columns by the entrance with their jumbled alphabet celebrating Alan Turing’s code-breaking talents, to the deconstructed bicycle parts hanging in the lobby honouring Cambridge’s love affair with the two-wheeled ride, there is cultural significance in every detail. And luxury runs through the hotel’s DNA (which just happens to have been discovered in Cambridge in 1953); the dramatic foyer with its expanses of grey marble, gold fixtures and high ceiling immediately sets the tone, while inside, the rooms and suites, each uniquely designed, offer rich accommodations adorned with luxurious linens and bespoke artworks. Fittingly, the 131 rooms and apartments are named for some of Cambridge’s best-known inventors and thinkers, with Sir Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking and Sir Isaac Newton all honoured, among other notable Cambridge Fellows from over the centuries.
We are staying in the Attenborough apartment, a large space with a comfortable lounge area and a fully equipped kitchen complete with cookery books offering night in dinner inspiration and an espresso machine to fuel days of exploring. A door separates this spacious living zone from the bedroom, which is furnished with a supremely comfortable king- sized bed, and offers an en suite bathroom that is thoughtfully designed with walk-in Hansgrohe rainfinity shower and stocked with fluffy towels and White Company Noir toiletries.
Having checked in late in the day, we gravitate towards The Folio Kitchen, where dinner is being served. The imaginative menu here provides plenty of choice when it comes to both plant-based meals, and meat and fish; we dine on the biggest, gooiest ball of burrata topped with grilled peaches and Heritage tomatoes, followed by butcher’s choice of the day, a succulent T-bone steak. After such gluttony, dessert feels an extravagance too far, and we opt instead for a couple of espresso martinis. Rich, indulgent and expertly mixed, these are the perfect end to a delightful dining experience.
They give us a taste for more, and we head over to The Folio Bar for a nightcap. Squishy leather sofas combine with bookshelves, university crests, a pool table, board games and an open fireplace, giving the air of a college common room. Academia also inspires a dreamy collection of signature cocktails, celebrating the works of Cambridge alumni, these include ‘Theatre of Imagination’ after Quentin Blake’s incredible body of work, and ‘If I May’ influenced by A. A Milne (albeit for an older audience than his tale of Pooh and his friends).
After a peaceful and restful night’s sleep, breakfast the next morning is a laid-back, relaxed affair. It is served in The Folio Kitchen as an unlimited buffet, with tables groaning under the weight of sausages, eggs, mushrooms, beans, toast and all the usual suspects. There’s also fresh fruit, granola, cereal, smoked salmon, ham and cheese plates, a variety of freshly squeezed juices and more.
As ever, design, food and location are key when it comes to picking a hotel, but the amenities are just as important for a memorable stay – and The Fellows House exceeds expectations on this front, too. After breakfast we take a trip to the hi-tech gym, which has evidently been expertly put together. The pool area adds further wow factor; guests can kick back on one of the loungers, take a long dip or soothe weary muscles in the sauna and steam room.
The Fellows House has proved to be a treasure trove of hidden artwork, history, and architecture, with something new to discover around every corner, and our brief encounter has certainly left us wanting more – we will be back.
Prices from £170 per night, based on 2 people staying in a Kipling King room on a B&B basis (01223 949 499; thefellowshouse.com)