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Graduate Hotel ‘so very Cambridge’ where if you’re lucky you can buy a giraffe!

The hotel began as The Belle Vue Private Hotel and was renamed The Garden House in 1926

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In 1970, it was subjected to a student riot and in 1972 the hotel burnt down. The Cambridge Graduate Hotel, once called Garden House, has had various owners and several incarnations and a fascinating history. In an iconic setting on the banks of the River Cam, the current hotel, newly refurbished in a grand manner, has laudable connections with the city and Cambridge University.

At a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night (May 16) to launch its summer season of events, the guests included many of the city’s creatives as well as movers and shakers.

The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events

The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events

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Among them were people from Cambridge University, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge City Council and Cambridge Open Studios – the annual event where the city’s artists open their doors to the public.

This year’s celebration of 50 years of doing that will be held at the hotel.

The Graduate is a previous sponsor and host of the annual free summer concerts in the city organised by Cambridge City Council.

The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events

The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events

This year, as a sponsor of the Giraffe trail of model giraffes along the streets, it will host the fundraising auction when the model giraffes will be sold off to raise money for young people leaving care.

One of the launch party guests, Natasha Forster of employer engagement for Cambridge University’s Career Service said the hotel was: “Very Cambridge.”

The garden opened for the summer season on Saturday, May 18 with a programme including live music, outdoor painting experiences, wine and champagne tastings, a weekday spritz hour, and alfresco brunch events.

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The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events

The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events

There is also a teatime and punt package with Scudamore’s Punting including a private tour along the river to see the famous College Backs, followed by afternoon tea.

The restaurant, which is still called The Garden House, in tribute to the hotel’s history, has a menu including Cambridgeshire asparagus, Isle of Wight tomatoes with avocado and smoked oil, and Walby Farm beef carpaccio with radish and local watercress.

Mains cooked to order over the Robata grill, include whole boneless sea bass with salsa verde. Meat dishes include Hereford steaks, Norfolk saltmarsh lamb or herb-fed lemon and garlic chicken.

The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events

The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events

But back to the history. Over 50 years ago, in February 1970, on Friday the 13th, during a Greek Week in the city, there was a student protest at a Greek Night Dinner being held at The Garden House.

What became described as a riot was an uprising against Greece’s right-wing Junta.

The date was certainly unlucky for eight students who received harsh prison sentences from Justice Melford Stevenson who had a reputation for severity in sentencing. He was described by a fellow judge Sir Robin Dunn as “the worst judge since the war.”

The hotel, which began as The Belle Vue Private Hotel, was renamed The Garden House in 1926. On April 23, 1972, fire gutted one of Cambridge’s oldest and most famous hotels. It was rebuilt and today, refurbished and renewed it is considered one of the most glamourous.

 

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