Cambridge is another of Britain’s powerhouse tourist cities, filled with culture and education. The city centre has two Hilton options, and on the outskirts there is another Doubletree with a name that sparks romantic thoughts of history and gothic style but is actually a relatively new build property in a residential and commercial area.
The hotel is easy to find just off a dual carriage way, and has ample free parking. The accommodation is situated in a large brick construction building with a small low level annex hosting the reception, bar/restaurant and health club. The reception area is accessed through a revolving door and has been recently renovated to provide a light, bright modern space.
A warm, if a little enthusiastically clueless, welcome was given. As is becoming standard with Doubletree outside of London in the UK, water is provided in a brown bag at reception and the cookies just handed to us as they had run out of bags. I was welcomed as a Diamond member but no drinks vouchers offered, nor a room upgrade.
Filling the reception with a holiday-esque chlorine scent is the pool with jacuzzi, well equipped gym and spa area. This facility is well attended by residents and members from the local area. Access, towels and lockers are provided free of charge to all guests.
We headed to the room, a 300 numbered room which was oddly on the 2nd floor. As you walk through the corridors it becomes the hotel is real mixture of styles, with some amazing carpet clashing happening.
The room was a standard queen, and felt rather small due to the eaves of the roof projecting inwards. Mid woods and green/reds add to the feeling of a dated room. The real issue was the lack of air conditioning, coupled with the windows only opening about 4cm. A tower fan was provided, but during the unseasonable weather the UK is currently having led to a rather uncomfortable level of heat in the room.
The bed was comfortable with standard Hilton linen, all in excellent condition. A power point is located next to each side of the bed, along with an alarm clock and reading lamp. A large flatscreen dominates the bed facing wall, with a large desk below.
Below the window is a table with two chairs, ideal for room service – if you could stand the heat. Moving back towards the entrance of the room, there is an empty minibar acting as a fridge and above a hospitality tray. Good quality tea and instant coffee was in plentiful supply but those looking for a shortcake biscuit will be left wanting.
A large wardrobe with safe and hairdryer enclosed, but no robes or slippers were supplied in this category. There is also a handy shelf for a suitcase, something missing from many hotels these days.
Opposite the wardrobe is the entrance to the bathroom, and another large door which is home to a thin cupboard for the iron. The bathroom has a walk in shower and a tub, the tub also has a shower hose. An illuminated mirror with a sink below, with Crabtree and Evelyn amenities adjacent. All towels were of good quality and fluffy. The whole bathroom was really well equipped but was showered in a dim yellow light making it feel dated.
As I explored the bathroom there was a knock at the door and the receptionist presented two drinks vouchers for the bar, apparently she had been so flustered she had forgotten this benefit.
I decided a cool beer was in order after the stifling heat of the room, so headed down to the air conditioned bar. A few families, but a rather quiet experience for the weekend. It was nice to have Camden Hells on draught, especially cold and made even tastier by being available with the drinks voucher.
I had eaten a large lunch at Mollie’s Diner en-route to Cambridge so just decided to sample a few light bites in the bar for dinner. The restaurant does open for dinner if you would rather a more formal meal. I opted for a margarita pizza and pea tortilla. Both were delivered quickly, and whilst the pizza was less than visually attractive both were very tasty, coming in around £18 for both.
After a rather hot night, I went to experience the Belfry’s breakfast. It was a busy buffet affair, with the team rather stressed – in spite of being rather well staffed. The restaurant decor is quite a clash again, but very acceptable for breakfasting whilst overlooking the lake.
Hot items were nicely presented, and well stocked, including some very tasty rosemary roast potatoes. Continental items were less well stocked, it took three requests to get the milk replenished. The cold cuts and meat selection was very sparse, and the bakery items of low quality. My muffin was practically dehydrated and the bread of low quality for toast.
I ordered a poached egg, which took an age to come (I think about six visits for water in the thimble sized glasses) but was of an acceptable quality and cooking temperature when delivered. Breakfast is one of the last impressions given to guests and this really fell short, but most probably did deliver on textbook Hilton Doubletree guidebook standards.
An express checkout later, and I was on my way to the next Hilton. I can’t say the Cambridge Belfry will be on my radar again any time soon, but why not tell us what you think in the comments below?