We hear a great deal about recycling these days - du Vin recycles attractive but sometimes un-loved buildings to restore real gems in the best tradition of British understated style.
Complement that with all that is best in the French bistro ethos, bars that reach out to please, and you have a setting that provides an inspirational background for people to meet, do business, get married, provide a base for golf or fishing, somewhere you can call your own for a private celebration, a spa or - most engagingly - a wine school that breaks the mould.
In historic Cambridge, du Vin has taken on a beautiful old building in Trumpington Street and transformed it into a distinctive luxury boutique hotel, engaging its quirky architectural features in a manner that is wholly convincing. Inside the 41 bedrooms and boutique suites, some with private terraces, are fitted out with luxurious Egyptian linen and monsoon showers.
du Vin are renowned for their bistro style restaurants, and this one has more than a touch of La Français, making the right setting for a cuisine that looks to Europe for inspiration with a modern edge, as well as being serviced by the first du Vin open style kitchen.
Down in the labyrinthine cellars, vaulted ceilings look down on a splendid bar with, amongst other commendable attributes, a noble array of single malts and armagnacs. Add to this a specialist wine tasting room and private dining room, and the library overlooking the bijoux terrace where a mildly scholastic style reminds its occupants that they are sitting near the centre of one of the finest universities in the world.
In the snazzy bistro a choice of around ten starters could include devilled chicken livers, half a dozen Colchester oysters, or smoked duck breast with beetroot and pecan salad. Amongst the main courses expect to find that fast fading from the scene but delightful gastronomic extravagance, venison haunch with pickled red cabbage and artichoke puree and gilt head bream with sautéed potatoes and sauce vierge. Only in Cambridge? Well, perhaps in that other place beginning with 'O' where they used to make cars?
In amongst the classics there's braised ox cheeks with marrow bone dumplings and hot and sour cabbage, or crepes filled with mussels, cockles and crab.
Whilst one might argue that the whole point of being in a du Vin is to snuggle up to the wine list, this list is designed to match with the food and can only be described as superb. With a team of sommeliers, there is no room for anything but the best. Service is telepathic in the best possible sense.
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for full information and rates. Hotel du Vin, with fourteen options throughout Britain, awaits your call.