Recommended eating places
St Ives

Click Oliver Cromwell (who once lived here) to go to contents list.

A personal view
by Philip Grosset

The Dolphin across the river
The Dolphin Hotel. Cross to the other side of the bridge (away from the town), and you'll find the modern Dolphin Hotel, a pleasant place, recommended for a coffee, drink, or the very popular excellent value buttery self-service lunch. But don't turn up hoping for the carvery lunch on Sundays unless you've pre-booked (their 'phone no. is 01480-466966 or 497497). There was a Dolphin inn on this site from at least 1716, but the predecessor of the present one was demolished in 1968. There's an informative website at:

Surf & Turf
Surf & Turf is at 8, Manor Mews, Bridge Street, just a few steps from the bridge. It's become a more up-market restaurant, specialising in steak and fish. There's a fairly limited menu (except for steaks) and it's quite expensive, but helpings can be large. Their website is at

The Golden LionThe Golden Lion. Very conveniently situated just by the Free Church on Market Hill, this old coaching inn has been extensively modernised inside, and offers well-cooked food that is ordered at the bar and served in its large and attractive interior. It is good value for money. It has a website at

he photo above shows it at Christmas time. The photo on the left shows it as it once was.

Slepe Hall Hotel in Ramsey Road was converted in 1966 from a girls' boarding school set up there in 1848, after the old Slepe Hall (on the site of Cromwell Terrace and Cromwell Place by the bus station) was demolished. Under its latest owners it has been tastefully redecorated. Bar meals offer a restricted menu and the brasserie is a bit pretentious and expensive, although the service was good. The rooms are expensive and mine had no hot water.

The hotel has its own website at:

The Merchant House, at the bottom of Ramsay Road (beween Westwood Road and The Waits) reopened in 2013. Since 1992 it had been known as The Aviator and for over 200 years before that as the Dun Horse. It has recently reopened.

Oliver's Lodge Hotel, in Needingworth Road, is an extended Victorian building, a few minutes walk from the town centre. It offers simple bar snacks (soup and sandwiches) but there is a good restaurant menu which can be recommended. It has its own website at:

Cherry ValleyCherry Valley Eating House (on the left of the photo) is a Chinese restaurant that is a few yards from the bridge in Bridge Street. It's really friendly, with very quick and efficient service, and offers excellent sit-in and take-away meals. Their buffet meal is particularly recommended. Only one minor snag: they won't serve tap water (I know of nowhere else in St Ives that won't). They have their own website at:

Restaurant Molise. Next door to Cherry Valley along Bridge Street, and on the extreme right of the above photo, there's the Italian Restaurant Molise. Its set meal can be particularly good value. It can get busy in the evening so it may be necessary to book, and service can be slow. But the food is good. Its website is at

Amore is half way along the Quay. It is an Italian-run Italian restaurant (new in 2012) with very well-prepared food even if you do have to pay extra for vegetables! There is little choice if you want a glass of wine (there's just a happily inexpensive white, a rose or a red), but overall it's good value. Their website is at

Kushiara restaurant
Spice of Asia restaurant in Bridge Street is one of several good Indian restaurants in St Ives. Particularly recommended for its inexpensive Sunday buffet lunch. It used to be known as the Kushiara.

River Tea Rooms (previously Sedge's), in the last alleyway on the right as you walk down Bridge Street towards the bridge, is an attractive riverside cafe offering coffee, tea etc and simple light meals. The tables by the windows and, on sunny days, those on the balcony overlooking the river (as seen in the photo) are particularly attractive. Specially recommended.Their website is at:

Nuts Bistro
Nuts Bistro (on the right of the picture) in Station Road is a popular and pleasant place for a cup of tea or coffee or a variety of other drinks and goodies, with good value homemade light lunches - and it's very conveniently situated for the market. Specially recommended.
The premises, together with those of the adjoining building society and pet shop, as seen above, were originally built in 1844 to house the Church of England's National School.

The taproomThe Taproom bar (on the left of the picture) is in Bridge Street, just a few yards from the bridge. It's a long narrow room with an open air courtyard at the back. I've included it here because of its remarkable opening hours: 8.0am to 11pm daily (to I.0 am Thurs-Sat) and Sundays 10am to 10.30pm. They do simple cooked meals as well as a good trade in coffee and tea, but in the evenings it is more of a bar than a place to eat. Their website is at

Costa must be about the tenth place where you can buy coffee in the town centre, but it is very well situated and offers good coffee although it can get very busy.
It is situated next to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill (the place of constant sales) in Crown Street in premises previously used by Dewhurst the butchers, before their chain went bankrupt.

Marsh Harrier is on the Needingworth Road by the St Ives Business Park on the outskirts of the town on the road to Bluntisham.
Most of its customers have to arrive by car, and it seems to have had very mixed reviews. However, I was very impressed with its attentive staff, the wide choice of good food and the two-for-one offer that made it real value for money. But it took too long for food to arrive. Website at

Photo of inn and gardenOld Ferryboat Inn. Some three miles down river at Holywell. By car, turn right, as signposted Holywell, from Needingworth. An attractive thatched pub that claims to be the oldest inn in England - although the upper storeys had to be rebuilt following a fire. A river ferry used to operate from the site, so the inn claims Hereward the Wake as one of its early customers, and liquor has certainly been sold on the site since 560 AD, although the foundations are an estimated century earlier. The bar contains what is said to be the tombstone of Juliet Tewsley, a lovelorn lass who (may have) committed suicide around 1050 AD, and now returns to haunt the place on every March 17th.
It's always very pleasant eating (or drinking) in the garden overlooking the river or in the atmospheric interior, and it is currently offering very good value - but you can wait a very long time if you order a dessert.

The Pike & Eel is also on the river at Needingworth, but is approached along Overcote Road (leading down from the Needingworth war memorial). It is alongside a large marina, and is a 17th century building to which has been added a large airy restaurant overlooking the river and a spacious conservatory where you can enjoy excellent bar meals. Sunday lunch in the restaurant is also good value. Their website is at Specially recommended.

King William IV is a picturesque old pub on the main road through Fenstanton, a few miles from St. Ives. It was a 17th century inn that was converted into cottages, then became a pub again in the 19th century. When I last visited it, there were as many as three different menus at lunchtime!

Photo inside pubThe Three Tuns. High Street, Fen Drayton. Some 4 miles from St Ives, via Fenstanton. Attractive thatched country pub, with plenty to look at inside (Tudor beams, old photographs, songsheets, brass plates etc.). It has a much more extensive (and expensive) menu than it used to, even if the food turns out to be rather simpler than it sounds! Still worth a visit, though. Their website is at

Three Jolly Butchers. Huntingdon Road, Wyton. A short walk from the clock in Houghton. Excellent bar (or restaurant) meals, particularly the chicken fajitas - one may be enough for two people! Sit in the large garden behind it in summer. Excellent friendly service. Specially recommended. Their website is at