Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Novotel Cambridge North

1 Dec 2021 by Mark Caswell
Novotel Cambridge North

Background

Situated in the Cambridge suburb of Chesterton and described as “a sustainable urban gateway”, the Cambridge North development is very much still a work in progress.

Cambridge North rail station opened in 2017, followed by the adjacent Novotel property in May this year, and opposite the hotel construction has begun on One Cambridge Square, which will eventually offer 94,000 square feet of office space. Further phases include the addition of residential and retail units, as well as the creation of open spaces and a multi-storey car park (which will replace the current open air car park next to the Novotel).

More information on the development can be seen at cambridgenorth.co.uk and twitter.com/CambNorth.

Novotel Cambridge North

What’s it like?

As the first tall structure within the development, the six-storey Novotel Cambridge North is easy to spot on approach. Just beyond the entrance there is an understated reception desk, which had two members of staff when I arrived around 1600 on a Friday afternoon, and no queue to be checked in.

To the left of reception is a games “snug” area (pictured below) with lounge chairs and various board games, and to the right is an open space lounge / bar area, past which is the dining and breakfast area.

When I had a tour of the property with the general manager, he explained that the new-build nature of the property had allowed the hotel to take on characteristics that might not normally be associated with a Novotel, and that it had something of a Pullman feel to it. I could see this – the rooms and public spaces felt modern, stylish and upscale, in particular the pool area which felt a cut above Novotel’s midscale branding (more of this below).

Novotel Cambridge North

Where is it?

The hotel is located directly next to Cambridge North rail station, which has direct links to Cambridge, London Stansted airport, London King’s Cross, London Liverpool Street and Norwich. There is parking adjacent to the property, but this is operated by NCP and Greater Anglia, and there are currently no discounts for guests staying at the hotel. More information on charges can be seen here.

Arriving by car guests will pass by the adjacent Cambridge Business Park, home to tenants including Qualcomm, Handelsbanken, Net Names and the BBC.

Rooms

There are a total of 217 rooms across Superior (starting from 25 sqm) and Executive categories, with six Executive Suites taking up the corner space of the building on each floor.

Rooms feel stylish and understated, with decor being mainly whites and dark woods, with splashes of burgundy in the cushions, and headboard feature walls with abstract artwork, which alternate each floor.

Facilities include 55-inch TVs with Chromecast capabilities, as well as fridges (empty for guest use), ironing board, hair dryer, safe, and tea and coffee facilities. Wifi is free, and no code is required to log-on. I only used it to browse my emails, but my son was able to stream content via his Kindle without issue.

Novotel Cambridge North

All rooms have walk-in rain showers rather than bathtubs, and executive rooms enjoy upgraded amenities including bathrobe and slippers, and a Nespresso machine.

Despite being directly next to a rail station, I did not hear any noise from trains, although we were on the sixth floor – there was also ongoing work from the One Cambridge Square development opposite, but again I was not disturbed by this.

Food and drink

The open space layout on the ground floor means guests can effectively sit where they want to dine and drink, and menus are available via a QR code displayed at every table. The space is light and bright, with a range of seating options from communal bench-style seats to more private seating behind partitions.

The main restaurant area is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – we visited for breakfast on a Saturday morning, and were impressed with the buffet selection on offer, which ranged from breads and pastries to cereals (including gluten free options), cold meats and cheeses, and the standard hot breakfast choice of bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns, etc.

Lunch and dinner options include sharing bites, two grill options (rack of lamb for £23, and ribeye steak for £28), burgers, pizzas and salads, and “classic dishes” including fish and chips, and Thai green chicken curry (both £18).

Novotel Cambridge North

Meetings

There are a total of seven meeting spaces, all with natural daylight, ranging from the 20 sqm Crick room (they have all been named after Cambridge University alumni) accommodating up to eight people, up to a 155 sqm space accommodating up to 100 guests when the Darwin and Hawking rooms are combined.

As you would expect with a new-build, the rooms have the latest technology, including wireless projectors which can share screen from any devices including mobile phones.

Leisure

The hotel’s wellness area is undoubtedly the highlight of the property. Located on the ground floor it includes a fitness centre with Technogym equipment, as well as an indoor pool which would not feel out of place in a five-star hotel, with stylish dark tiling and a wooden slated effect ceiling.

A spa bath feeds directly into the main pool, and there are also two monsoon showers and a small sauna. There are only two lounge recliners (both of which were being used when we visited), but there were a couple of other tables and chairs to leave our stuff on.

Novotel Cambridge North

The health centre is operating under the Club 100 brand, which as the name suggests is also offering a maximum of 100 private memberships. The space did not feel busy when I visited, but limiting memberships will be important as the hotel and the wider development becomes established.

Getting to it is a bit of an oddity though – there is a door from the main reception area into the health centre, but this is not for guest use (to discourage them walking through the public areas in their dressing gowns, or less). Instead guests are directed to the first floor, then along a corridor, and down a flight of stairs (there is also an accessible lift).

Verdict

A great addition to Novotel’s UK portfolio – the location on the outskirts of Cambridge might not suit everyone, but the leisure facilities in particular are of a high standard, and having the rail station next to the hotel will no doubt be attractive to those arriving by public transport.

Fact file

  • Best for Guests happy to be located outside of Cambridge city centre
  • Don’t miss The superb Club 100 health centre, even if it is a bit of a trek for guests to find it
  • Price XXX
  • Contact 2 Cambridge Square, Cambridge CB4 0AE; +44 (0)1223 867 170; all.accor.com
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