I’ve lived in Cambridge for nearly eight years now, and it’s been a delight to build a collection of favourite local shops, cafés and the likes that I treasure (as well as discovering new gems that continue to pop up) over the years. To me, it’s the small independent boutiques, the local baristas (who know you by name), and the local neighbourhood cafés that really make a community (and which have helped make this adopted city feel like home for me).
This weekend, the UK celebrates Small Business Saturday; a day when people across the country are encouraged to get out support their local small businesses.
I’m always asked about my favourite places in Cambridge (and to be honest I think this warrants at least three separate posts), so when American Express – founder and ongoing supporter of the campaign – asked me to team up to highlight some of my favourite local independents, I was delighted to take part.
Whilst this list is far from exhaustive, here are a few of my favourite local shops and eateries in Cambridge that I regularly visit:
Hot Numbers // For me, Hot Numbers is the authority on good coffee in Cambridge (to the extent that most of the best cafés in town serve the coffee roasted in the café). At the original Gwydir Street location (just off Mill Road), its signature flat whites come with a side of jazz with live music on Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as on Sunday afternoons, and a rotation of local art on the walls. This is the perfect spot to read the Saturday papers or work on your creative idea (the staff don’t mind how long you loiter with your laptop); and you’re just as likely to pull up a chair beside a Nobel laureate as you are a tech founder.
Pint Shop // Bene’t Street is my favourite foodie destination in the city (I send all my friends there if they’re new to town), and Pint Shop is one of the best on the block. Granted, I don’t partake in two out of the three things it’s famous for (beer, bread and meat), but it’s still one of my favourite cosy spots to while away a lazy afternoon. This is a firm local favourite beloved for its craft beers and modern twists on British classic dishes.
6 Ice Cream // Hands-down my favourite ice cream in Cambridge. Aside from the Cambridge Cream (its signature combination of honey, lavender and burnt cream), its flavours change daily depending on what’s in season, so you never know what you’re going to find on the menu (which is half the fun), but expect unusual flavours like salted dark chocolate, blackberry sorbet, or strawberry and rose.
Urban Larder // Over on Mill Road – which is home to lots of independent grocery stores and eateries – you’ll find Urban Larder. It’s exactly what you want a local neighbourhood café to be, and serves up delicious coffee and snacks (made from locally-sourced ingredients) with a smile. Its three-cheese toasties are something else.
Garden Café // One of my favourite ways to spend a lazy Saturday is to find a seat beneath a big tree in the Botanical Gardens and spend a peaceful few hours with a good book and the weekend papers. I always stop at the Garden Café on my way in for a picnic to complete my perfect afternoon (its home-made sausage rolls, salads and cakes are excellent).
Cambridge Wine Merchants // Although I rarely drink, this is one of my favourite local gems and where I always head when I want to treat the wine-enthusiasts in my life. The staff are all oenophiles and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine, and it stocks both well-known and hard-to-find wines from all the best regions. The beautiful Kings Parade location (right opposite Kings College) also serves up Jack’s Gelato and Pimm’s from the window in the summer months, and hot mulled wine in winter.
Boudoir Femme // This award-winning independent fashion boutique is always one of my first stops in Cambridge for wardrobe basics; the perfect pair of MiH jeans, American Vintage tees, cashmere scarves and Yawn pyjamas.
Cambridge Satchel Co // Without a doubt my favourite Cambridge-based brand. This label has grown from humble beginnings – founder Julie Deane started the label from her kitchen table in Cambridge when she couldn’t find a proper leather schoolbag for her children – to become a global success story. Beloved by preppy students and fashion editors alike, its chic leather bags are entirely desirable. If in doubt, go for the classic satchel in tan, navy or oxblood.
Love, Miss B xx
This post is in partnership with American Express and Small Business Saturday (but I couldn’t be more proud to support the ‘shop small’ initiative). Visit amexshopsmall.co.uk to learn more about Shop Small in your city. What’s more, American Express Cardmembers will receive a £5 statement credit when they spend £10 or more in a single transaction at a participating small business during the campaign period (3 to 18 December 2016). There is no limit to the number of participating small businesses you can receive your £5 statement from, however, you can only claim this offer once at each small business (terms apply).
Promoter: American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.