We tried the food at this boutique hotel in Cambridge, which boasts an excellent reputation and stunning grounds
At first sight, Hotel Felix looks every inch the typical country house hotel, with its grand Victorian frontage, sweeping gardens and neatly trimmed topiary – but step inside and you’re greeted with something altogether more modern.
Mingling with the building’s period features is striking artwork, a sleek bar and a zingy colour palette with splashes of vibrant pink and purple, creating a stunning, contemporary look.
Only 15 minutes by car from the city centre, it seems a million miles away; the peaceful grounds creating the feel of an off-the-beaten-track escape, despite its proximity to the hubbub of central Cambridge.
Nestled at the end of a long private driveway in Girton, the hotel has been bringing a little boutique chic to Cambridge since back in 2002, establishing itself not just as a popular place to stay, but also a sought-after wedding venue.
It’s easy to see why it’s an in-demand choice for nuptials – the manicured gardens frame the mansion beautifully, there’s a pretty wooden gazebo for ceremonies, a range of function rooms and, of course, ample (52 to be precise) luxurious bedrooms for guests to stay in after the celebrations.
In its almost 20-year lifespan, Hotel Felix has also built up an excellent reputation for its food offering, with in-house restaurant Graffiti a firm favourite with locals and hotel guests alike.
It’s even attracted praise in the national press for its inventive food, seemingly always remaining in favour despite the inevitable comings and goings of the kitchen team.
Currently, the menu combines bistro fare with dishes more at the fine dining end of the spectrum, covering both pub grub favourites like beer-battered fish and chips and more refined offerings such as pan-seared scallops with miso dressing and pork popcorn.
It being a miserable winter’s night, we were keen for some comfort food on our visit, and so began with an indulgent goat’s cheese souffle: a tricksy, delicate dish for any chef to conquer, but Felix’s take on it was solid. Tart in flavour, fluffy in texture and with good volume, it had a surprise layer of sticky caramelised tomato hidden underneath – somewhat unorthodox, but an excellent use of this classic flavour combo. We also shared some crunchy ham hock croquettes to start, tightly packed with smoky shreds of meat and cleverly paired with a fresh, cooling pear and celeriac remoulade.
My dining partner couldn’t resist a steak for her main course, which ticked all the right boxes with a perfectly cooked cut of meat accompanied by a puddle of creamy peppercorn sauce and a rustling stack of salty skinny fries. I went for the beef cheek and was delighted with my choice – crispy meat on a bed of unctuous truffle mash, with rich gravy and roasted carrots in a sticky-sweet red wine jus, it worked beautifully texturally and sang with flavour.
We rounded things off with a pineapple cake (a warm, lightly spiced sponge, caramelised crust and a liberal helping of whipped cream), and a light-as-air panna cotta topped with fresh fruit, washed down with a delicious dessert wine, before heading off reluctantly into the chilly night. You leave Hotel Felix feeling completely spoiled.
The staff are attentive, the atmosphere cosy and elegant, and the food and wine delicious, making it a lovely location for a special meal out or a romantic getaway – a delight to discover.