A full Welcome/Visitor Pack is provided in each apartment at City Studios, detailing shops, eating establishments, visitor attractions and other useful information for your stay, including details of local medical facilities, public/private transport, car parking and more, along with all of the relevant information you need for your stay including Wi-Fi access details and so on.
The city of Ely is a picturesque medieval town in Cambridgeshire, East Anglia, internationally famed for its magnificent Cathedral, known as The Ship Of The Fens. The cathedral largely pre-dates the town which was only a small settlement at the time of construction. Originally founded as a church by St. Etheldreda in AD 673, the current building dates from 1083. With its striking octagon tower, it is one of the 7 medieval wonders of the world, the only one listed in the UK.
Ely Cathedral is a short 4-5 minute walk from City Studios and is open to visitors for sightseeing throughout the year, with tickets available in advance of your visit from their website. There are regular guided tours, including the towers – with the highlight being the opening panelled windows in the octagon which let you look down into the cathedral from above. The cathedral is also a centre for shows and performances throughout the year.
Ely holds its city status thanks to its cathedral, making it the 2nd smallest in England (excluding the City of London) – but don’t let that fool you as Ely is packed with things to see and do, with something for everyone both here and further afield in the surrounding areas and counties.
Oliver Cromwell’s House (also Ely’s Tourist Information Centre) is a short 4-5 minutes walk from City Studios. The house is the former Lord Protector’s family home, the only residence still in existence other than Hampton Court.
The visitor attraction boasts a completely revamped Civil War Exhibition with interactive displays and interpretations. There is also a timeline and family tree to provide more engaging content about this complex man who killed a King but refused the Crown.
Visitors have the opportunity to try on costumes and experience games of the time as well as experience what life was like on the battles fields during the English Civil War. Audio handsets bring the story of the impressive Oliver Cromwell House to life; there is an augmented reality tablet tour/game available for children, tied to clues throughout the attraction.
Oliver Cromwell’s House also hosts Ely’s Escape Room, which can be booked in advance and offers a period-themed 1-hour challenge, for groups of up to 8 people.
The Stained Glass Museum – situated inside Ely Cathedral – is just a 4-5 minute walk from City Studios. The Stained Glass Museum offers a unique insight into the fascinating history of stained glass, an art-form that has been practised in Britain for at least thirteen hundred years. The entry fee is separate and you can visit the museum without paying to enter the Ely Cathedral – a combined ticket with access to both the museum and Ely Cathedral is also available for purchase.
The permanent gallery offers over 125 stained glass panels representing eight hundred years of history, from the thirteenth century to the present day. All panels in the gallery are displayed at eye-level enabling visitors to have a rare close-encounter with the art of stained glass. Temporary exhibitions are also held throughout the year from the Museum’s reserve collection.
Ely Museum has reopened after a £2.2m redevelopment. It offers a fascinating tour of the history of Ely and the fens, looking back all the way to its pre-historic origins at a time when the area was a Jurassic era ocean. Visitors will learn all about life and culture as the area developed through the ages and will reopen with a brand new extension and exciting new exhibits throughout.
The museum itself is located in The Old Gaol, a building dating back to 13th century which once housed criminals and debtors. With new interactive features and activities for younger visitors, Ely Museum will entertain the whole family.
Ely Riverside is a favourite place for visitors offering gentle walks along the tow paths to view the long boats and tourist boats, and the river birds.
There are several pubs and eateries including the award-winning Peacock’s Tea Rooms, two historical Malting buildings – one of which houses a large Antique Centre, and links to the Country Park, Jubilee Gardens, and Cherry Hill Park. The Babylon Gallery, an independent arts development charity, is also situated by the river on a hanging walkway next to Peacock’s Tearoom – they often have free exhibitions and open studios.
From the beginning of March to the end of September, 30-minute boat trips on the River Great Ouse are available on the Liberty Belle leaving from the quay by the Maltings. There is no need to book and it costs around £6 per person.
Ely Markets are held throughout each week, on Thursday is a conventional market with wide variety of household goods and food stalls. The Saturday market is a mixture of conventional stalls, arts/crafts stalls, antique/bric-a-brac stalls, and a farmers market every second and fourth Saturday of the month.
Shopping in Ely you will find that although a city, Ely is very much a traditional market town with a good mixture of independent and specialist shops scattered throughout the four main areas of High Street, Market Street, the Market Place and Fore Hill, linked by tiny back alleys such as High Street Back and Chequer Lane, and shooting off into Newnham Street and St Mary’s Street.
Cafes, pubs and restaurants are plentiful throughout Ely and there is something to suit all tastes. Ely boasts both national and independent establishments, from coffee shops like Caffè Nero and Starbucks to delightful independents including Lemon Tree Deli, Daybreaks and Samovar Tea House. Restaurants include Wildwood, Pizza Express, Prezzo, The Almonry and many more.
Ely Leisure Village which opened in 2017 is within walking distance (about 20 minutes) from City Studios and is also accessible via several bus routes. The facility has ample car parking and is home to Cineworld Cinema, Nando’s, KFC, McDonald’s (KFC/McDonald’s both feature drive-thru service), Arbuckle’s, The Isle Of Ely Pub, Pizza Hut (take-away/collection only) and Costa Coffee.
The site also features The Hive Leisure Centre, a new fitness complex featuring a gym, swimming pool and various other facilities. Short term and single visit options are available, should you wish to fit in a bit of exercise during your stay!