I recently traveled up to Cambridge, to spend some time exploring the city’s rich history and take in the beautiful scenery. Whilst there, I crossed the river Camb to meet with Christine who runs the beautiful 5 Chapel Street to talk about what makes a stay there so special. And what a welcome, after a scenic 20-minute walk from the town centre, I arrived to a warm welcome, a delightful pot of tea and some delicious homemade gluten-free biscuits. And after a quick tour of the stunning three bedrooms and living area, we sat down for a chat about Christine’s story into the accommodation sector:
What makes a stay at 5 Chapel Street different from anywhere else?
Well for starters I think that our house is really unique, it’s Georgian, it’s not very big so it’s more of a cottage than a town house but it’s very charming. The location is fantastic as it’s very close to the river and it’s a lovely walk along the river into the centre of Cambridge. It’s lovely and quiet at night and currently we have on-street parking, which not many people have as parking is quite a problem in Cambridge. And then we really emphasise good food, all the bread is either baked by me or I buy very good artisan hand made bread, and if people arrive at tea time they get a welcome with scones or homemade cakes. And for breakfast all the ingredients are locally-sourced. We have free-range Suffolk pork sausages and bacon and smoked fish from Norfolk. Plus the biscuits in the rooms are homemade.
How do you keep guests coming back?
We don’t really do very much about that in marketing terms, but a lot of people do want to come back. We do give them plenty of information about what to do and see in the area because I really love Cambridge. Our average length of stay here is two days, and it’s really not enough time to scratch the surface of discovering Cambridge. I mean, you’ve got the university, punting trips on the river, independent shops and restaurants, award-winning museums, and then the many surrounding villages. There’s just so much to see! And people just can’t fit it all in, especially in just two days, which keeps them coming back.
What’s the best part about your job?
Meeting people! They come from all over the UK and abroad. I used to really like travelling but it’s really nice now, to have a base here and people come to us. And I’ve always loved cooking.
Can you tell us the story behind how you both got into the industry?
I went to a rather an academic school and I caused constant consternation because i suggested catering college to my careers teacher, and I was very firmly told that I was Oxbridge material. So I went to university in Scotland and then I worked in Japan for a year, then after that I tried to train as a chef. But it was too late and I was too slow. But, the owner of the restaurant suggested running a B&B, and I didn’t like that idea as I was in my twenties and it didn’t appeal to me at all. So I went into the wine trade for a few years, and then worked as a fundraiser for an overseas development charity. Eventually I went to Ukraine to teach English and I met my husband. I mentioned the idea of running a B&B to him, as I was looking to settle here, and he loved the idea.
And for fun, what’s the strangest thing that’s ever been left behind in a guest bedroom?
The complete works of Karl Marx, a bit fat tome of paper back, tucked away in the bedside drawers.
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