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23 Oct 2020

An Autumn Mini Break In Cambridge


Cambridge mini break

 

Pre-Covid, I’d have probably asked myself if going 10 miles down the road really counts as a mini break but this is 2020 and we gotta take what we can get these days eh lads? 


On the basis of nothing more than we had a booking.com voucher (a wedding gift) that had been refunded more than once due to covid-related cancellations, we decided to book ourselves into the four-star Clayton hotel in Cambridge for a night. Because if there was ever a year to spontaneously ‘treat yo’self’, this would be it. It had cloud-like super king beds, a gorgeous bar and truly superb interiors. From the spiral staircase in the entrance hall to the panelled-wall library areas to the velvet pink pouffes; everything was very much up my street. 


Clayton Hotel, Cambridge

Clayton Hotel, Cambridge

Clayton Hotel, Cambridge

It was the last weekend of September and the first time it really felt like Autumn; we’d dug out the knitwear for the first time and everything. We arrived in our neighbouring city in the afternoon, dropped our bags off, marvelled at the marble bathroom and beautifully comfy bed and then headed into the centre of Cambridge. Something I’m slowly learning this year is that an unexpected joy of trips close to home, apart from the lack of travelling, is the lack of pressure to squeeze it all in. Which to be fair, I don’t actually mind when you’re excitedly trying to take in a new place, but on the other end of the scale, knowing I’ll come back to Cambridge many times gave me the permission to gently wander which is a different kind of joy. 


And Cambridge city centre is a great place for gently wandering. Full of beautiful architecture, an abundance of recognisable and independent shops and an overall studious feel, there is a lot for the eyes to absorb and you can easily while away an afternoon by meandering around the town, the shops & the market. We stopped in Aromi for a tea break or, in my case, a hot chocolate break. We found it at random so I was taken completely by surprise by how good their hazelnut, velvet hot chocolate was. That combined with the aesthetically-pleasing slice of pistachio cake we shared and the cosy interiors made Aromi a great accidental find. 


Cambridge

Cambridge

After the obligatory pre-dinner-crash-in-hotel-room that is synonymous with city breaks, we had a drink in the hotel bar which we both agreed reminded us of a New York bar, although we couldn’t put our finger on why. Anyway, there was stylish décor, great wine and a marble bar complete with beautiful fairy lights. And then we headed to the Old Bicycle Shop for dinner which has been top of our list of places to try in Cambridge for a good while. 


The Old Bicycle Shop literally used to be a bike shop and there are nods to it throughout with curled bicycle handles mimicking antlers and photos of the old shop on the wall, and wooden floors, leather seats and moody décor that you could just imagine in a shop selling bicycles. The food did not disappoint; Gary had the crispy salt & pepper squid with squid ink chilli mayonnaise & charred lime to start whilst I had the honey & thyme baked feta which were both great, but we both agreed that the gnocchi with sun dried tomatoes, olives & almond pesto (Gary had the added trout) was the shining star. Our only disappointment was it left us too full for dessert but hey, we’ll definitely be going back. 


Cambridge

Cambridge

Cambridge

We had the comfiest night sleep in our king cloud bed and then headed to Bill’s for breakfast for old time’s sake; we miss having a Bill’s round the corner and their lovely décor and lovely food always make it a reliable option. 


I would highly recommend wandering around the centre of Cambridge on a Sunday morning; with the shops not opening until 11, it’s a rare dose of quiet and a joy to watch the city sleepily wake up. When it is awake, if you’re a bookworm, I would recommend a visit to their Waterstones as it is freakin’ huge. It’s spread over five enormous floors and, yes, I made Gary walk around them all. Always happiest wandering around a bookshop me. 


New book in hand, we took a slow wander back to the train station for the 20 minute journey home. 


Cambridge

Cambridge

Cambridge


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