Ranked: Best Dinky Doors in Cambridge
The dinky door trail is a sure-fire way to lift those Week Five blues
If you’re new to town, you may not have noticed the tiny little doors that adorn random street corners in Cambridge. The Dinky Doors are miniature-sized escapes into new worlds– and they’re definitely worth stopping and looking at!
The artists keep their identities a secret, the doors all feature quirky wordplays, and it’s a great way to escape the stress bubble of Week Five. To help you decide which doors to hunt for (yes, hunt, we’re not going to tell you where they are), we walked over 15,000 steps to rank the 12 in Cambridge.
12. Love from Above
Though the secret love story between Angel and Mr D Mon found a place in our hearts, this door just could not compare to the grandeur of some of the others. Tucked away down a little lane, this discrete door resembles the entrance of mundanely familiar colleges (yet, unfortunately, when we step out the gates of Johns we don’t find giant yellow gift boxes waiting for us…).
Overall score = 5/10
The concept and location of the emailerator won us over, but we both agreed that its design wasn’t our favourite. The door of this miniature ‘digital’ post box opens up to share a sweet note that looks like it was designed with Cambridge students in mind– we’ll let you find out what it says. Somewhere along the river, the scenery makes up for the rather harsh design of the door. We get it though, it’s hard to turn a post box into something majestic!
Overall score = 6/10
10. Ride & Park
Use these last few weeks of term to catch some autumnal vibes with Ride and Park! This little nest features a spinning orb (which we didn’t quite understand) and some baby birds. Together with the location, (hint: it’s in one of those many green areas by the river) everything comes together to create a slightly fairy-like conception of nature!
Unfortunately, this one wasn’t our favourite because it just didn’t stand out enough– but hey, maybe the fact that it was the last one on our list had something to do with that!
Overall score = 6.3/10
Fighting for survival, up next comes FotoDinkyMat. What once was a dinky photobooth is now no more than a melted puddle of metal after the DinkyDoors evil genius (Chief Mischief) destroyed it with his ray gun.
Conspiracy theorists suggest that the FotoDinkyMat was actually stolen on a post-night-out heist. Nonetheless, the authors agree that whatever the circumstance for its melted reminisce, the FotoDinkyMat does have a certain level of charm (if a green melted puddle is your thing).
Overall score = 6.5/10
8. Reality Checkpoint
Unfortunately for reality checkpoint, it promises exactly what it says in the title. Located at the confluence of one of Cambridge’s busiest bike lanes, Reality Checkpoint offers a crash course in bike avoidance, and if that wasn’t a challenge enough, bird poop offers an additional hazard to avoid.
Despite the treacherous location, Reality Checkpoint is a lovely and festive door reminiscent of the entrance to Santa’s grotto.
Overall score = 6.6/10
7. Wonder Emporium
Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium has a branch right here in Cambridge! Scan the QR code tucked away at the bottom to browse through Dinky and Doorky’s wares (yes, that is how the artists refer to themselves). Fancy a sharpener for an ice-cream cone maker? Or a key that’s a miniature ping-pong racket?
Explore as long as you like on this one because the ‘door’ here is really your phone coupled with loads of little details to zoom in on in the art itself. While there wasn’t too much wordplay going on, we did appreciate that the Emporium was located right by stores in town– and of course, that it was cheaper than its neighbours, asking only 3p per item.
Overall score = 7/10
6. Ye Olde Knight Rider
This charming, whimsical door truly transports you back to the knights of the round table. Something out of an Arthurian legend, this door is immaculately crafted, with a miniature house hidden within the pages of the book. Ye Olde Knight Rider is a sure-fire favourite for any bookworm, however, this door is not one that can just be stumbled upon whilst walking from Jack’s to Pret.
Rather it requires the viewer to undertake a quest out of central Cambridge– a task only the valiant knights of Girton have ever been known to undertake. Hidden within the realm of Wandlebury, this dinky door is awaiting the brave and valiant knight to mount their (bicycle shaped) steed.
Overall score = 7.77453/10
Crashlanding at number five is DFO (dinky foreign object). Suspended by the Museum of Technology, this alien object provides the perfect opportunity to escape the Cambridge bubble as it is a trek to get to (unless you row of course, but if you do, we DON’T want to hear about it). Luckily for DFO its intricate detail, especially the green alien tea, and gorgeous location makes it a favourite of ours.
Overall score = unable to compute, it was in alien code
4. 10 1/4 Downing Street
Definitely more delightful than its real-life counterpart, 10 ¼ Downing Street was a hit with both of us, and not just because of the wonderful wordplay and location (hint: it might be on Downing Street). Though we weren’t sure whether the purple octopus inhabitant of this door was a political jab or just a bit of fun (we reckon both), it certainly made an impression on us.
Overall score = censored for political reasons
3. Octo Spa
Even the hardworking Octopi of 10 ¼ Downing Street need a break, and there is no better place to go than Octo Spa. This delightful little door was actually a lighthouse spa catering for all your relaxation needs, charging only 3p (anyone seeing a pattern?).
Count us in as Week Five blues inch closer! Although slightly out of town (shocking: it’s more than a 10-minute walk) the location of this door will allow you to experience one of the best streets in Cambridge so is definitely worth the hike (especially when you can stop at Tom’s Cakes on the way back).
Overall score = 8/10
Let’s just say we disagreed on this one…The Teleport-o-matic was well-concealed, had great wordplay and really intricate detail, but the aesthetic just did not work for Vedika. It looked way too much like it belonged on the street– the phrases ‘fire hydrant’ and ‘street drainage’ were thrown around.
Maddie on the other hand absolutely loved it. The Wallace and Gromit crossed with Doctor Who aesthetic was super fun and definitely made this door Maddie’s favourite, or maybe it had something to do with the fact that it’s right by the market… Van of Life anyone?
But here’s what we both loved: The escapism (somebody teleport us home please!), the location, and of course the fact that it was cheap. Threepence for a three-yard trip? Sign me up!
Maddie’s score = 100/10
Vedika’s score = 5/10
1. Rocket Rocket
Cambridge’s newest Dinky Door is ready for takeoff! This door was easily identifiable on the street, with blues and purples adorning its body. Taking a peek inside revealed so many tiny details– my personal favourite was the mini A-Z map.
Perhaps the reason we love it so much is that the artist’s themselves say their ‘latest doors are always the ones we’re most proud of!’
The location is central enough that anyone could go and have a look– and is tied into the artist’s inspiration for the piece. Here’s a clue from the artists to help you find it– Rocket Rocket is on land owned by Gonville & Caius, as a tribute to Stephen Hawking, who was a fellow at the college.
Overall score = infinity (and beyond)/10
And that’s all the Doors in town! You can find the (slightly confusing, but we believe that’s the point) map of the Doors on their website, as well as read more about all the Doors themselves. If you’re really looking for a break, check out the Doors outside Cambridge– we’re sure they’ll make for a good day trip! And maybe you’ll bump into someone from Girton on your way too.
Feature Image Credits: Vedika Mandapati