by Tom Mulvihill, The Telegraph, March 17, 2017
Cambridge's eagerly anticipated Tamburlaine hotel will throw open its doors next week, ending the buzz of speculation surrounding what promises to be the city's most exciting opening in years.
The 155-room hotel spearheads an extensive regeneration project that promises to see the area surrounding Cambridge Station emerge as a vibrant business and residential district. It also marks the first UK property from Irish group O'Callaghan, best known for its stylish Dublin hotels (including the excellent Stephen's Green Hotel).
But, while The Tamburlaine may be at the forefront of the Cambridge's ongoing reinvention as a modern city, it is not to say the designers have ignored the distinct culture and history of its surroundings. For instance, literary types may recognise the hotel's name as that of a play by Christopher Marlowe, one of the university's most celebrated alumni.
And there is a further nod to the university in the accommodation categories: Fresher rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows; Scholar rooms on the upper floors, some with balconies; and the three-bedroomed Dean suites on the top floors, which provide wide-ranging views over the city and surrounding countryside.
Despite differences in size and prospect, all rooms come in the hotel's ubiquitous traditional-yet-contemporary design: bespoke furniture features throughout, as does wood-pannelling, polished concrete surfaces and patterned velvet fabrics, all offset by a soothing Cambridge Blue colour scheme (another design element chosen to give a sense of place).
It's the same story in the hotel's common areas. The lobby is bright and colourful, with quirky modern chandeliers hanging from the ceilings and parquet flooring underfoot. It is overlooked by an elegant library, its cosy atmosphere induced by sagging bookshelves, panelled walls and snug furniture. A menu of light snacks, teas, coffees and wines is served here.
The three categories of guest room are traditional yet contemporary, with a colour scheme of Cambridge Blue.Credit: thetamburlaine.co.uk
It is, in fact, just one of four culinary options offered at the hotel. The Brasserie is the hotel's main restaurant, serving a variety of classic English fare, cooked with locally-sourced ingredients (the offering includes Norfolk Black chicken supreme and grilled breast of wood pigeon).
Afternoon tea can be taken in the Colonial-style Garden Room, which also serves an array of champagnes and cocktails; further drinks can be had in the horseshoe-shaped Cocktail Bar; and the hotel's in-house delicatessen, Steam, serves up coffee and sandwiches throughout the day, transforming into a wine bar in the evenings, with cheese and charcuterie to accompany the vintage.
In all, The Tamburlaine represents a remarkable step forward for a city that, otherwise, has a remarkable dearth of decent accommodation options. That said, there are other encouraging signs that the Cambridge hotel scene is improving, not least the autumn relaunch of one of the city's oldest hotels, The University Arms.
The lobby is bright and colourful, with quirky modern chandeliers hanging from the ceilings, but staid parquet flooring underfoot.Credit: thetamburlaine.co.uk
Tamburlaine opens on March 20. 27-29 Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2FB, England; 0122 379 2888; thetamburlaine.co.uk .