Do you know Cambridge is less than an hour away from Central London by direct train. Classy Cambridge as an event destination is ideal for any event planner wishing to combine stunning locations, convenience and space as a location.
Recently I was lucky enough to be taken round some key venues with the excellent Conference Cambridge team, who treated us to an action packed, experience-full day. This included dining with a Michelin Starred chef, punting on the Cam and discovering the culinary delights of Cambridge at Stephen Fry’s favourite café.
We started the day at the stunning Fitzwilliam Museum; packed full to the brim with treasured artifacts. This is a spectacular building and it regularly hosts events (some of Viva Live Music’s musicians have performed at events there).
Our next stop was the famous Fitzbillies café where we were treated to a “Duke of Cambridge” and ‘Chelsea Bun’ (with its secret recipe), whilst being introduced to the vibrant Cambridge food scene by the Cambridge Food Tours.
This was followed by a visit to Stephen Hawking’s college: Gonville and Caius (pronounced “Keys”). This has many wonderful possibilities for successful events, with picturesque courts, plenty of photo opportunities and a variety of hospitality spaces inside, including stunning dining rooms. The great hall is wonderful for a large gala dinner – complete with a minstrels gallery that the college choir could serenade guests (or out of term time when the choir aren’t there, the Viva Live Music singers!)
Before lunch we were met by an expert guide from “See Cambridge Differently”. She showed us some hidden gems of the city whilst weaving great stories. They offer exclusive bespoke guided walks for groups, and since Cambridge is flat and compact, this is a great way to discover the City.
A highlight of the day was visiting the stunning St John’s College, which was founded by the ultimate mother–in-law from hell, Margaret Beaumont (mother of Henry VII). We had lunch with the Michelin starred chef, Bill Brogan who shared his passion for food and told us how he regularly has themed food evenings at the college bar for the students. The catering is second to none and there is no doubt that organising an event at St Johns College would be a memorable experience for any guest – with the stunning buildings (including the bridge of sighs) the courts, grass and the river flowing through the middle of the grounds. The photo below is of the grand hall from the minstrels’ gallery. A copy of Margaret Beaumont’s portrait looms on the far wall….
After lunch we visited the lovely Magdalene College, which is a small medieval college. Again there were grass areas for outside receptions as well as a smaller dining hall.
The college was adjacent to Scudmore’s Punting and we were treated to a ride, complete with stories. There is no better way to see this city than in a punt!
We alighted at Trinity Hall, where we discovered another perfect venue for an event. I could see the combination of pre-dinner drinks on the lawn overlooking the river and dinner in the dining room, very appealing to many guests.
Finally, we were treated to a delicious English afternoon tea and a tour of the Cambridge City Hotel. This is an excellent venue for clients and guests who want a ‘corporate’, more ‘standard’ accommodation base for their event.
I was quite overwhelmed by the tour: although I live less than an hour from Cambridge by train and have visited on a number of occasions, I have never taken the time to explore the city. It is a perfect location for events, being less than an hour from Central London by train. It has a wide variety of venues – many with unique experiences for the guests. And the city has an enticing buzz about it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Thank you to Conference Cambridge for inviting me on this tour and for allowing me to use their beautiful images of Cambridge.