View from Regent's Street and of the new Porte Cochere, University Arms Hotel, Cambridge, United Kingdom View of the new Porte Cochere, University Arms Hotel, Cambridge, United Kingdom


John Simpson Architects' revitalization of the University Arms Hotel for Melford Capital Partners is now fully underway. RG Carter has just been appointed as the contractor to carry out the extensive works to this fabulous hotel. The original buildings, defaced in the 1960s, will have these detrimental accretions cleared away and a new classical frontage will restore the hotel's prominence in the city.

John Simpson Architects have been commissioned to carry out a major refurbishment and extension to the University Arms Hotel, the oldest hotel in Cambridge. Originally opened as a coaching inn in the 1840s, the hotel was extended in the 1930s, and then unsympathetically in the 1960s.

Having consulted the local community, a planning application was submitted to City of Cambridge in July 2013. Planning consent was subsequently granted on the 6th November 2013 for the designs, which involved fairly controversial elements such as adding an extra story to the 1930s extension, and in-filling between parts of the historic core of the building. To mitigate this, the design removes unsympathetic additions which are detrimental to the hotel and its surroundings. This is a sensitive intervention within the historic fabric of the hotel.

The University Arms is in an important location in the historic centre of Cambridge, on the old High Street. Overlooking the common, Parker's Piece, the site is constrained on all sides, so that the extension must make use of existing buildings and space. When the works are completed, the 190-bed hotel will be the premier hotel in Cambridge providing first class facilities with excellent new bedrooms, a destination restaurant, bar, gym and conference facilities over 11,800 square metres. The project will enhance the relationship of the hotel with the street and the open space of Parker's Piece.

Furthermore the plans will see an improvement to the traffic flows on Regent Street and Park Terrace with a new and improved servicing plan. The addition of an elegant Porte Cochere to the front of the hotel will utilize its visual language to emphasise that this is a gateway to the city and has the practical benefit of organising the currently confusing and hazardous traffic flow coming into and out of the hotel.

Cambridge has a growing demand from corporate visitors and tourists but an undersupplied hotel market and the city needs to cater for the anticipated additional demand over the next decades.

The hotel is an important building marking one of the main routes into the town centre and acts as the base for many visitors. As a building it has grown and developed to reflect both the success and popularity of the hotel and of Cambridge itself as a city. The work by JSA continues this tradition and signals a new era of posterity as it is intended to be the best hotel in Cambridge.

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Published: 26th September 2014