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“This place should be fantastic but sadly falls short”

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University Arms Cambridge
Ranked #29 of 36 Hotels in Cambridge
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
58 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“This place should be fantastic but sadly falls short”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 September 2013

A hotel just over 15 minutes walk from Cambridge Rail Station and on the edge of the city centre. It backs onto a large green open space and is close to all the colleges, good restaurants and so on. In short it is in an excellent location.
The front entrance on Regents Street could be mistaken for a low rise 70's car park and so it is a pleasant surprise to discover a much grander interior reflecting the earlier original building which runs on through to the back of the hotel. With big red leather seats, ornate ceilings and dark polished wood, it has the feel of an old fashioned hotel or gentle men's club.
However just like so many old hotels and clubs, it appears to have struggled to keep up with the times. My room was in the front modern extension on the 3rd/top floor. It was accessed by a slow lift with walls that had been carpeted to match the upstairs corridors.
The room was dark and the decor tired. Coffee and tea making facilities were provided but that utilised the only obviously available spare socket unless either the TV or Freeview receiver was unplugged. So charging up the laptop and phone was an unhelpful irritation.
The bathroom was clean with quality soaps and shampoos and the shower effective albeit old. The toilet was positioned side on at the end of the bathroom and flush to the lower wall. It was physically impossible to sit on it straight without having to keep the right leg raised in the air; fine for a small cheap quirky B&B but surely not for a hotel charging in excess of £100 per night.
The bed was very comfortable but even after a long day at the office, not enough to prevent me being woken almost hourly by raucous shouting and chatting from groups hanging around the neighbouring Pizza Hut and open space. I was there for two nights and was woken intermittently through to 4am on both days. Granted the hotel cannot control what happens in public spaces but they could fit some better sound proofed windows.
Breakfast was included and was taken in a fantastic big old ballroom overlooking the open space. The tables are set up in regimented rows but nevertheless it is a great room with a better than average view. A fairly standard buffet of juices, cereals and breakfast baked items was on offer. Toast was on a cook yourself rotisserie. Coffee came after 15 minutes with no milk and the porridge I ordered followed a further 10 minutes after- nice but nicer had it been hotter than Luke warm. I did not venture to ordering cooked fair but fellow work colleagues also staying advise me that the kippers were suspiciously like boil in the bag products found in supermarkets but the poached eggs were OK.
Perhaps the most damning thing however was when telling locals where I was staying, the uniform response was ' Oh. Why?'
I feel sorry for the staff because all of them tried their best to deliver a good service. However when the core product is so tired there is a limit to what they can hope to archieve.

Room Tip: Ask for a room at the back in the old part of the hotel to limit the impact of the outside revellers...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank JCHappyskier
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matthew M, Manager at University Arms Cambridge, responded to this review, 30 September 2013
Dear JCHappyskier

Thank you for taking to time in writing such a detailed account of your experiences here at the University Arms.

I am pleased that you enjoyed our central location, and you found you bed comfortable. It is ture that some of our room require updating; however we believe that this is reflective in the specialist rates we offer. In addition I am pleased to report that plans for a comprehensive refurbishment program are with Cambridge City Council awaiting approval.

I am sorry to learn that your sleep was disrupted; also I would like to thank you for your understanding with regards to this being out side of our control. I would like to mention however we work closely with Cambridge council to monitor noise from surrounding premises to minimise disruption, wherever possible.

I am also saddened to learn that felt your service was slow during breakfast, of course I apologise unreservedly. Also I am grateful for the opportunity to point out that our Smoked Kippers available from our breakfast menu our most certainly not "boil in the bag".

Thank you again for your feed back.

Best Wishes

Matthew
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914 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
San Jose, California
Level Contributor
199 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 September 2013

OK the positives, it's quaint, it has a good breakfast, it's not one of your huge impersonal hotels, it almost feels like a bed and breakfast but on a larger scale. It's conveniently located to the town centre so you're walking distance to some great pubs and restaurants.
Those were the positives, the negatives - it's a bit downtrodden and could do with some freshening and it is the quality level of a B&B without the low price.
Would I stay here again - yes.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank GarryPy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matthew M, Manager at University Arms Cambridge, responded to this review, 30 September 2013
Dear GaryPy

Thank you for your recent review, I am pleased that you found our hotel to offer a personal service and you enjoyed our central location.

It is true that some areas of our hotel require updating; I am pleased to report that plans for a comprehensive refurbishment program are with Cambridge City Council awaiting approval.

Thank you again for you review and I hope that I may have the opportunity to welcome you back to the University Arms Hotel in the not too distant future.

Best Wishes

Matthew
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
33 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 September 2013

I booked this hotel with the false impression that it was a DeVere hotel. It is no longer in this chain but it is still able to use DeVere's website to advertise and the new 'owners' have been very selective, naturally, on the photos advertising the hotel rooms. We stayed here one Saturday night earlier this month - very tight car park and no spaces so had to park in an NCP about 15 minute walk away (but worked out cheaper than the £16 we would have been charged if we'd stayed in the hotel's car park). Whilst my husband parked the car, I checked in and went to the room. I was gutted, having just left a 5* Marriot hotel in Ghent, this was a major let down. I have never asked to move rooms - until now. It felt like student accommodation - maybe even worse! The receptionist did offer us another room of a similar standard, it was slightly better (no view of air con units out of the window and there was no wooden curtain pole as was in our original room which would not have kept the room dark at all). Luckily it seems we had a room overlooking the side street, away from the park which seemed noisy on the night.
Breakfast was excellent with very pleasant restaurant staff.
Reception staff were polite but I got the feeling they had to deal with a lot of complaints and were just a bit tired (like the décor) of it all.
Roll on the planning approval from the council. It can't come quick enough and you only get one chance to make a first impression and so I will not stay here again.

Room Tip: Ask for a refurbished room and see what you get!
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Debra P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matthew M, Manager at University Arms Cambridge, responded to this review, 30 September 2013
Dear Debra P,

Thank you for your recent review following your stay here with us. It is true that we are still listed on the DeVere Website, as we have always been. This forms part of the service agreement between DeVere on our owners.

I am sorry to learn that you felt let down by your room and I am pleased that our team made every effort to change it for you. It is true that areas of our hotel are in need of updating, however we believe this is reflective in the tariffs we offer.

I am delighted that you enjoyed your breakfast and you found our staff to be present and helpful.

Thank you again for your review.

Best Wishes

Matthew
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Travellers are raving about these Cambridge hotels

2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 September 2013 via mobile

Visiting Cambridge for one night. Once you get over the disappointing exterior of the building you find that the hotel's reception and bar are nicely presented. Unfortunately the style does not extend to the bedrooms where the decor is tired (I'm being polite) and the air smells musty. The noise from outside in the park will make sleeping difficult. The hotel wanted £160 per night which is enormously over priced and doesn't even include breakfast!!! A disappointing hotel!!!

  • Stayed October 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Travellingbeary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matthew M, Manager at University Arms Cambridge, responded to this review, 23 September 2013
Dear Travellingbeary

Thank you for posting your recent review, I am sorry that your felt our hotel to be disappointing.

It is true that some of our bedrooms require updating. I am pleased to report however, a planning application has recently been submitted for a comprehensive refurbishment program. This application is with Cambridge City Council awaiting approval. We hope for an update very soon.

I also welcome the opportunity to point out that we conduct regular market research to ensure that our room tariffs are in line with the Cambridge market and are also reflective of the accommodation facilities we offer.


Thank you again for your review.
Best wishes,

Matthew
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 September 2013

Good central location, easy walk to shops, tourist attractions and river. Not a vibrant modern hotel but despite decor being a little dated and ready for a revamp it has charm. Free wifi throughout, TV, kettle, toiletries etc. and the breakfast was brilliant (well worth the £14 if you had to pay for it).
As a city centre hotel it suffers from noise outside at night but that along with paying for car parking (£16 for over night, ie 2 days, as opposed to £25 a day in local car park!) and express checkout (bill through door at night but you don't have to pay that way!) is the norm nowdays for hotels so can't see why people moan about it. Can imagine it being even noisier when the students are back which may be an issue for light sleepers.
Admittedly step down from upper level car park is a bit keen, rattled our tow bar so would suggest going into underground bit instead.
Staff were happy to let us leave bags until check in and on check out and were all very obliging and friendly.
Prob a bit pricey for what you get decor/facility wise but it was generally clean and we thought it was worth it for the convenience and parking. No doubt when done up it will cost much more due to its location.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Bladette20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matthew M, Manager at University Arms Cambridge, responded to this review, 21 September 2013
Dear Bladette20,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review following your recent stay here at the University Arms. I really do appreciate the points you raise and I am sure that many other reviewers will find it helpful.

Thank you once again and I look forward to welcoming you back to the University Arms in the near future.

Best wishes,

Matthew
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lincoln, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 September 2013

I was looking forward to our first break away for years and had seen the beautiful facade from the website photos, but the modern frontage was disappointing. When we arrived we were pleased to find a space in the car park (but shocked to have to pay an additional £16) and as we drove up the ramp heard a shocking crunch as the car bottomed out on an enormous step. On inspection having reached home there is about £100 worth of damage to the now cracked front bumper.

We were told by the rather cool reception staff that we could not check in until 3pm (although when we left we were expected to check out by 11am), but they took in our luggage while we ate in the bar. Food was good, if a little greasy and breakfast was fab. Room was small and dirty (dado rails dusty, bathroom grouting falling out, silicone moldy) and noisy being at the front. The carpet was threadbare in front of the bed, the bed so hard I woke up with pins and needles, there was no bedside light, no sewing kit, no stationery and the bill was shoved under the door during the night.

Overall a tired and shabby (but not in the chic way!) hotel that charges a premium.

Room Tip: Try to stay at the back facing the park
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank MORSAL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matthew M, Manager at University Arms Cambridge, responded to this review, 21 September 2013
Dear MORSAL,

Thank you for your recent post. I am deeply sorry to learn that you had scrapped your car bumper on the ramp leading to the upper car park. I appreciate the opportunity of pointing out the "enormous step" you speak of in 2 inches in height. Also, we have clear signage alerting drivers that there is a ramp leading to the top car park.

I must confess that I am surprised to learn that you where "shocked" at being asked to pay for the use of car parking in the centre of Cambridge. I am also grateful for the opportunity to point out that we go to great lengths to inform guests prior to their arrival that a £16 overnight fee will be requested. This can be found on all hotel websites, in the car parks themselves and indeed on the very confirmation of your hotel reservation we send out. Being a city centre hotel and limited parking (54 to be exact) space is valued at a premium.

Thank you for pointing out our standard check in and out times. Of course, should your room be available before hand then we would be happy check you in early. Also, late departures are available upon request.

It is true that some areas of our building require updating. I am pleased to report that a planning application for a comprehensive refurbishment program is with Cambridge City Council awaiting approval.

I also welcome the opportunity to point out that we conduct regular market research to ensure that our room tariffs are in line with the Cambridge market and are also reflective of the accommodation facilities we offer.

I also note your comment "the bill was shoved under the door". The express check out facility is offered to all of our residents, so that they may avoid having to check out in the usual way if they wish (should time be a factor). This is simply another choice we try to offer our guests and I fail to see how it can be treated as a negative?

I remain delighted that your enjoyed your breakfast. I will be sure to pass this along for our kitchen teams.

Thank you once again and I look forward to the opportunity of welcoming you back to the University Arms hotel in the near future.

Best wishes,
Matthew
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Berkhamsted, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
39 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 September 2013

Sadly this place has really seen better days. I gather they are in the midst of improving the rooms and it cant come quickly enough. Shame as its in a great place. But for the price was really not up to scratch.

Room Tip: book another hotel
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank garethgreig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Matthew M, Manager at University Arms Cambridge, responded to this review, 21 September 2013
Dear garethgreig,

Thank you for posting your recent feedback. It is true that some areas of our building require updating. I am pleased to report however, a planning application has been submitted for a comprehensive program of refurbishment. This application is with Cambridge City Council awaiting approval. We hope for an update very soon.

Thank you again for your review.
Best wishes,

Matthew
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about University Arms Cambridge

Property: University Arms Cambridge
Address: Regent Street, Cambridge CB2 1AD, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Cambridgeshire > Cambridge
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#10 Luxury Hotel in Cambridge
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:4 star — University Arms Cambridge 4*
Number of rooms: 192
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In the heart of medieval Cambridge, set back from the hustle and bustle of the town and bathed in green lawn lies this rather special historic hotel. It’s an education in quirky British charm and is famous for its hospitality, not to mention its guests over the years from the Beatles to the Krays. Luxurious rooms full of character await, spiral staircases and of course all of Cambridge’s attractions right on your marble doorstep. Take a punt on University Arms and you won’t be disappointed. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel De Vere University Arms

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