How much do you love these roll-top baths? I know, I thought you would. The rich blue paint on the outside, the shiny, traditional-style taps; everything that’s lovely about antique style but scrubbed up and given a hotel-style gloss. These were the centerpiece of the beautiful suite I stayed in at The Hotel du Vin in Cambridge and as proof of just how much I loved them, when I got home I realised that I had taken 24 photos. 24. Of a bath. I need to get out more.
But just look at the way that they are positioned by the window with a perfectly placed table for a glass of wine and thick fluffy towels warming up on the towel rail within arms reach. Total decadence. And great attention to detail. The rest of the suite I stayed in (Wolf Blass) was pretty gorgeous too. With sweeping sash windows painted a rich dark blue, framed with thick dark velvet drapes and black walls painted with sweeping gold stencilled flowers it was a perfect contemporary take on classic style. The bed was an enormous 8ft wide and deliciously comfortable with crisp white cotton sheets which were both crisply fresh and snuggly soft at the same time in the way that only hotels can manage to achieve. (How do they do that?)
Aside from the baths (this really is the last photo) Hotel du Vin Cambridge is a pretty special place. The building dates back in part to medieval times and has been fashioned from a row of Grade II listed town houses which makes for a characterful and quirky atmosphere inside. The richly carpeted hallways, book-lined library and snug basement bar all combine to give the impression of a plush old-school townhouse which is yours to explore whilst the (very rich and fabulously stylish) owners are away. Despite being fully booked and with the Bistro downstairs lively and full to capacity, the hotel itself was deliciously hushed and calm; so as I walked the corridors I did feel, for a brief moment that I was in my very own super-luxe townhouse.
This is a place which wears its history proudly, but in a ‘scrubbed up’ and contemporary way. My kind of history. And it is the quirkiness of the building which makes it feel so special. When you discover something like the little snug tucked away in the corner of the basement bar or even the outdoor Cigar Shack (I don’t smoke and have no intention of starting but I still loved it) you feel like you have discovered something secret which only you know about. By the way, I think it was the fact that the Cigar Shack was an outdoor wooden chalet open on three sides with leather chairs and a fireplace which caught my imagination rather than a secret desire to light up a Cuban.
How great is this chandelier? Simple but effective it made a lovely statement as we entered the hotel from the reception. Against the dark painted woodwork it really glittered and sparkled. It’s a simple idea, but it makes a great impact. While we are on the subject of lighting, with all the gorgeous dark fabrics and ambient mood lighting in the suite it was a bit tricky to see properly to do my hair and makeup when getting ready for dinner. But this was a small price to pay for the gorgeous atmosphere and i’ve yet to find a hotel which has great makeup lighting.
The library was a lovely cosy den, with book-lined walls and a good selection of magazines and papers to read.
The Bistro was lovely in a buzzy, but sophisticated way. The polished wooden tables, heavy cutlery and thick linen napkins all added to the feeling of simple, good quality and the other diners seemed relaxed and friendly which made for a lovely atmosphere. We went on a Sunday night and by 8.30pm the Bistro was nearly full to capacity which is pretty impressive. I had the swordfish steak to which the waiter asked if he could suggest a wine to accompany it. Yes please! Suggest away. I always panic when it comes to choosing wine, so to have someone go away and come back with the perfect glass of wine for my meal was brilliant. Which brings me onto my next point.
The staff. It is always the staff who make or break a place. I was worried that the staff here would be your typical snooty posh hotel staff, but they couldn’t have been friendlier. Everything was organised quickly and quietly and with minimal fuss. They restaurant staff were happy to guide us through the menu without patronising and the reception staff were all lovely, smiley and helpful which made our stay special. They even showed me a couple of the other rooms in the hotel and answered all my questions without losing the smile. And I can ask a lot of questions.
All in all, a lovely stay in a truly luxurious townhouse hideaway.