With the throngs of summer fading from its time-worn streets and mists rising from the River Ouse, early autumn is a particularly atmospheric time to visit Ely. Its cathedral, standing sentinel over the surrounding Fens for nearly a millennium, is the obvious place to start. Guided tours take in its octagonal towers, considered architectural marvels of the medieval world. For a slightly more modern spin on Ely’s historical riches, book into the Escape Room at nearby Oliver Cromwell’s House – the ruse is that you’re a captured Royalist, and have 60 minutes to escape from the Lord Protector’s guards and flee the building. Peril over, beat a path over to the Poet’s House, a Grade II-listed hotel with fine views over Ely Cathedral and Cromwell’s House from many of its bedrooms. The styling here is rather more contemporary, with a colour palette of black, grey and silver, copper bathtubs in the rooms and a long glass extension housing the cocktail bar at the back. Dinner is a relaxed if elegant affair, with a short menu including the likes of seared pork with rhubarb and saffron-poached John Dory. Look out, too, for dishes featuring Ely’s original namesake: its famed eels.
Twelfth-century Ely Cathedral, seen from the banks of the River Ouse