|Cambridge welcomes its Royal namesakes
|On 28 November, nineteen months almost to the day since they were married, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will make their first royal visit together to city that gave them their official title. VisitBritain takes a look at some of Cambridge’s star attractions and offers tips on places to eat, drink and sleep that are fit for a royal on any budget!
|Only an hour from London, Cambridge makes for the perfect break from the capital at any time of year, the ideal spot to soak up history and beauty, and get a taste of British student life. The city is synonymous with its famous University, which one of the oldest in the world. It has educated some of history’s most famous people, including members of the British Royal family. Prince William might like to make a trip to the largest of the Cambridge colleges, Trinity, where his father Prince Charles studied and graduated to become the first heir apparent to earn a university degree. Visitors can go to the Wren Library, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (who also designed St Paul’s Cathedral) and look for early editions of Shakespeare and books from Sir Isaac Newton’s own collection on its shelves. Along with Trinity, St John’s and Kings are the University’s three royal colleges, St John’s boasting stunning grounds and Kings a breathtaking Gothic chapel, where the college’s famous choir sings carols at Christmas, broadcast to millions around the world. You can visit every one of the 31 colleges in the city, each of which has its own unique character and quirky stories.
Once you’ve exercised your mind, why not exercise your body in a typical Cambridge activity: punting. Adding a romantic dimension to the city is the River Cam, which winds through the centre of Cambridge, taking in most of the university colleges on its way. At any time of the year you’ll see long boats drifting up and down the river, with professional and amateur ‘punters’ standing on the back end, guiding the vessel with a long stick pushed against the riverbed. If he’s sure he won’t fall in (which happens frequently!), Prince William may like to take his wife in the special punt that was named after the couple by The Traditional Punting Company when their title was announced; or else he may prefer to be chauffeured down the river by expert guides, who pepper the trip with history and anecdotes about the city and its many famous residents.
If they want to while away an afternoon following in the footsteps of some of Britain’s greatest minds (and most enthusiastic tea drinkers), the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge might like to take their punt out to the idyllic village of Grantchester. Said to have the world’s highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners, Grantchester is a popular destination for student day-trippers, who head to The Orchard, an idyllic café in an apple orchard where time stands still and the likes of Wittgenstein and Virginia Woolf used to take tea and exchange ideas.
Or the Royals may prefer to visit the Imperial War Museum Duxford, just outside Cambridge. On show are fascinating aircraft from First World War airplanes to those used in modern conflicts, which may interest Prince William given his career with the Royal Air Force. Throughout the year airshows draw crowds from all over the world to see the machines fly in thrilling displays.
Back in the city, there are plenty of options for a romantic dinner, or else the chance to immerse yourself in student life. For a special occasion, the Duke and Duchess might like to visit 2 Michelin starred restaurant Midsummer House, in a Victorian Villa with a pretty terrace and enticing menu. Another restaurant with Michelin appeal is Alimentum, which was awarded a star this year and has a very budget-friendly fixed price menu and perfect cocktails. Galleria is a favourite dining spot among both ‘town and gown’ (residents and students) that is perched over the River Cam overlooking St John’s and Magdalene College. For delicious fresh fish and seafood Loch Fyne is a good choice, and has a nicely intimate atmosphere. There are plenty of pubs to cosy up in too. The Eagle dates back to the 16th century and is where scientists James Watson and Francis Crick announced their discovery of DNA; you can also see Second World War graffiti on the ceiling of its RAF bar and The Maypole by beautiful Jesus College has delicious traditional pub food.
When night falls, the rooftop of The Varsity Hotel is the most romantic spot in the city with picture perfect views over Cambridge, and an inviting champagne cocktail list. The boutique hotel has 48 rooms, named after Cambridge colleges and decorated in an ultra-chic contemporary and very British style. Boutique option Hotel Felix, just outside the city, is set in beautiful surroundings and mixes Victorian architecture with 21st century comfort. The Duke and Duchess met at university so might like the nostalgia of staying in university accommodation. Many colleges offer rooms to guests, so if you’ve a particular favourite you can check the individual college’s website or see Visit Cambridge’s accommodation site for details. Those on a budget should check out Hostelworld for a wide selection of affordable and well-located hostels and B&Bs.