*AD – Press trip
We’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in our time and the Doubletree at Hilton have been good experiences in the past. When we were asked to review a couple, Forest Pine and the Cambridge Belfry hotels, we jumped at the chance and got them in the diary for half term.
The Cambridge Belfry is a few miles outside the city which is a good and bad thing. Great because there’s free parking (one of my pre-requisites for hotels), plenty of space, and you’re away from the traffic. The downside is that this hotel is just too far to walk (over 6 miles) into town. We would usually book something within walking distance of the city centre.
We used the Madingly Park and Ride which wasn’t far and a bargain at only £3 (free parking, and children travel free), but if you’re going out in the city in the evening, the buses stop just after 8.30, so it’s either driving in and parking, or getting a taxi.
The Cambridge Belfry hotel – the room
The location isn’t the most attractive and it’s a modern purpose built hotel, but once the landscaping has been in place a bit longer with the lake and trees outside, it’ll be prettier to look at. But our experience was that this hotel does the job in comfort and customer service.
We arrived a little earlier than check in, but were able to park, and sit and wait in one of the lounges. There’s a couple as well as the bar so this wasn’t a problem. Both of the reception staff were welcoming and happy to answer my questions about the restaurant and pool times. We were also given the Doubletree warm cookie, free water (either still or sparkling), and the welcome letter with key information on.
We checked in at 3 and were given a twin room. The room itself was functional, but we did have a standalone shower as well as the shower head over the bath, Everything was clean in the room, the beds were comfortable with plenty of pillows, and the hotel tv was simple to turn on. Because I’d stayed before, it was easy to connect to the wifi as well. We also had enough plug sockets.I do like to have a table and chairs too, so I can do some blogging in the evenings once N is asleep.
Our room did overlook the roofs and car park, but when you get a sunset like the one we had, it doesn’t matter! I also had to ask for someone to come and lock the adjoining room door on our side as it was initially unlocked, but that was done with no bother.
Other facilities in the room were the usual hairdryer (nice that it’s a normal plug in one, rather than attached, but they still have a very short cable), a mini fridge, and tea and coffee making equipment. N was disappointed there wasn’t a hot chocolate option, but that’s not usual in many hotels anyway.
We didn’t have any problems with noise which was good, even though we were right by a walkway, and both of us slept well.
Dinner at the Cambridge Belfry
We were staying with the dinner bed and breakfast package. Usually when we stay in hotels we eat out for dinner because most restaurants rarely have a decent (if any) children’s offering and I often find them too fussy for myself. So it was interesting to see how much of the menu we’d like to try.
Service only starts at 6.30 – always a shame there’s not an earlier sitting for families, especially when you don’t actually get the food til 7ish. It’s a long time for children to wait. We did see families eating in the bar area, where they probably serve food throughout the day. But 6.30 was fine for us now N is a little older, even though he counts down from 5pm!
The person at the entrance was very friendly and explained the dinner package included an allowance for adults at £28. Drinks sit outside of this allowance. Children eat free from the kids menu where they can choose 2 or 3 courses.
The children’s menu had 4 starter options and 6 mains. N decided on the nachos to start (tortilla chips with melted cheese, salsa, and his also came with soured cream. It was a large portion but he managed it all. For main he chose the beef burger with cheese, and skinny fries. Again it was a good sized portion and he didn’t have room for a dessert afterwards.
I’m more fussy but there was a lot of choice on the normal menu including salads, steaks, burgers and more. I decided to forgo my keto diet while away, and opted for the Asian spiced chicken yakitari with coleslaw and bbq sauce. This was delicious although I would have preferred it without the bbq sauce. For main I had the Singapore noodles which was also chicken skewers with a pangpang sauce. This was just way too spicy for me and I wasn’t sure what the veg were in the noodles other than chillies. They just overpowered the sauce so I just tasted hot. I did still eat it all though. I also was full so didn’t have room for dessert.
I had been worried about sticking within £28 limit, but with the dishes I chose, even with a dessert I would have stayed within in. Although if you go over you can just pay the extra.
The staff were attentive but not over the top, and the restaurant wasn’t too busy early on so we didn’t have to wait for service.
Breakfast at Cambridge Belfry
N loves a fried english breakfast, so of course that’s what he decided to have. He wasn’t keen on the bacon but I thought it was fine. Plus it was nice and crispy, just how I like it. He had the fried egg, and I had scrambled with cream, both were good, as well as the sausages.
Whether you wanted cooked breakfasts or continental, there was lots of choice. As well as toasting our own bread, and having fried options, I also had some greek yoghurt with berries, some melon (which needed to be cut a bit further from the rind as some bits were too tough to eat), and I can never resist the little mini pastries. N again didn’t get to have hot chocolate – the machines only served tea or coffee. But it was lovely to have some different juices – raspberry, and the rhubarb that I had.
As far as I could tell, what you get for breakfast is all set out on the buffet. There aren’t any a la carte additions like in some restaurants. But we had plenty to choose from anyway, so went away satisfied, and full to start our day.
As well as the bar, lounges and restaurant, there’s also the spa and leisure facilities. If you want to use the pool, check the times that children are able to go. They have a couple of hours in mornings, and from 2-6pm. The pool isn’t that large (probably around 15 metres long), so it was very busy when we were there, being half term and raining.
The changing rooms have a code based locker system which was beyond N as he was in the mens changing room without me, and I need to ask someone as I couldn’t find instructions. But it was simple enough to use, once you knew how. The hotel provide towels, and there are showers in the changing rooms too.
When we were there (Thurs pm during half term), there were swimming lessons going on in a lane that was blocked off), so it did reduce the space. It would have been nice to have that extra lane for people who wanted to swim. But we did still get in a few lengths as well as comparing glides and surface dives. The pool is 1.3m deep throughout which N could just stand on tip toes in. There’s also a jacuzzi in the pool area which was full when we were in the pool.
It’s a nice pool though, and as the changing rooms have costume driers, you don’t have to worry about having soggy swimwear back in your room afterwards.
The website mentions a tennis court as well, but we spotted it, and it wasn’t in a playable state, and was used as a dumping ground for some old chairs. It would probably be better if they didn’t mention it at all.
We really enjoyed our stay at the Doubletree at Hilton Cambridge Belfry hotel. The customer service was great, especially the cheerful lady on reception as we left – she gave us another cookie for the journey, and sorted out the lunch that had somehow been put on our room before we’d even arrived. And the room and hotel had everything we needed for a comfortable stay. It was a good base for visiting Cambridge and further out.
Have you stayed in this or other Doubletree at Hilton hotels?
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