Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Hotel Felix

1 Jul 2005 by Tom Otley

What's it like? Originally a Victorian mansion built in 1852 for a surgeon at the local Addenbrooke's hospital, the building is now stripped clean and brought up to date with polished wooden floors, colourful modern art on the walls and spot lighting. The strange name comes from St Felix of Burgundy, who as well as introducing Christianity to the East Angles (East Anglia) in the 7th century, founded many schools – including one which became the University of Cambridge. Attached are the two wings of the modern extension, built in 2002. Viewed from the side car park, the effect is more sports or conference centre than luxury hotel. Other than waiting a decade for the extension to blend in, the only solution to that is to avoid standing in the car park, something that's easily achieved since the attractions of this hotel are all on the inside.

Where is it? One mile from the city centre, a few hundred yards off the main Huntingdon Road (A14) and surrounded by playing fields.

How many rooms? 52 in total, split between the old main house and the two wings of the extension. There are five room grades, each available as double or twin: Felix, classic, premier, junior and the penthouse.

Room facilities Rooms have top-class beds, robes, dataport, voicemail, direct dial-in, satellite TV and CD player (but no DVD player). Bathrooms are equipped with The White Company toiletries, good power showers and baths. All rooms have small safes (only big enough for small laptops) and analogue dial-up internet access. Non-smoking rooms and wheelchair-access rooms are available.

Meeting rooms There are four main meeting spaces, three of which (Atlas, Calypso and Phoebe) are on the first floor of the mansion, directly above the restaurant and bar and overlooking the gardens. These can be used for boardroom and theatre-style meetings, and Atlas and Calypso can be opened up to create one room for up to 50 delegates. All rooms have ISDN, projector, flipchart, laptop and video facilities and, of course, telephone lines.

Downstairs is Hyperion, used at weekends as an overflow for the popular Grafitti restaurant (see below, right), but also available for private hire. On the walls are a set of three back-lit canvasses originally from Edward Muybridge's famous 19th century photographic studies of "Animals in motion".

Local businesses include those at the St John's Innovation centre for SMEs, and hi-tech industry from the Silicon Fen Valley such as Convergys and Microsoft, as well as Marshalls and Volvo.
Business Centre No.

Restaurant and bar Grafitti, in the main room of the house, overlooks the terrace and the small, informal gardens. It offers excellent Mediterranean food "with a twist" under the guidance of head chef Stuart Conibear, formerly of the Ivy and the Dorchester. Menu examples are: risotto of fresh crab with lemongrass (£9.50); and braised belly of Denham estate rare breed pork, runner beans, tarragon fondant potatoes and apple crisps (£16.50). Lunch is from 12 to 2pm (£12.50 for two courses, £16.50 for three courses). Service is excellent, even on the busiest nights.

Activities For overnight delegates, the hotel arranges day passes to the Conran-designed Glassworks Health Club and Aveda Hair and Beauty Spa in Cambridge (open 7am-9.30pm, Monday to Friday and 9am-7pm weekends), which is opposite Magdalene College and has a spa bath overlooking the River Cam.

Other considerations Cambridge is easy to explore, while attractions further afield include racing at Newmarket, Ely Cathedral, exploring the fens and bird watching.

Verdict An excellent choice for both weekend breaks and meetings.

Price £185pp for the 24-hour delegate package. Price includes three-course dinner, overnight accommodation in en-suite double bedroom, full English or Continental breakfast, morning tea and coffee with petit-pain, a two-course hot and cold buffet lunch, afternoon tea and coffee with home-made biscuits, main meeting room hire with OHP, screen and flip chart, and a fruit bowl in the conference room. Day delegate packages are £58pp, as above, without dinner and accommodation. Visit the website for last minute offers and internet specials. One Night Graffiti Breaks cost from £216 per room per night, including full English breakfast, overnight parking and dinner in Graffiti to the value of £29pp excluding drinks.

Contact Hotel Felix, Whitehouse Lane, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, tel +44 (0)1223 277977; www.hotelfelix.co.uk.

Tom Otley

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