Our UK travel writer, Rachel McAlley recently spent 48 hours enjoying a few local attractions, an afternoon of retail therapy, and tasty food in the North East’s quaint city of Durham.
I checked in to the Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County for 2-nights in a family room for three, where we were upgraded due to them having spare rooms, which was a lovely unexpected surprise.
The room comprised king size bed, sofa bed, large flat screen TV, and all the amenities you would expect within the Marriott Bonvoy collection including; complimentary Nespresso, bottled water, biscuits, and Acca Kappa bathroom products.
After unpacking we headed into the city for a walk, across Elvet Bridge, and around the cobbled streets making our way to Durham Cathedral where we spent a couple of hours taking a tour of the cathedral itself and the cloisters. It was a Monday afternoon and perfectly quiet in the cathedral, which is usually extremely busy with visitors, so we enjoyed the calmness of taking in the stunning architecture, and purchased a couple of books from the cathedral shop.
We strolled down the cobbles and into the town centre for a little retail therapy, where we successfully shopped in a couple of independents including; Circle Vintage, and The Mugwump on Saddler Street, plus a sneaky visit into the kids store Smiggle for our 8 year old.
Dinner on our first evening was taken at a rather wonderful hidden Italian restaurant in the heart of the city, up a few flights of stairs, at La Spaghettata. This was by far the greatest find in Durham. The restaurant was candlelit and full of charm, the menu was bursting with pastas, pizzas, and specials, and everything was extremely reasonably priced.
A walk back down to the hotel meant we could call in to Durham’s smallest bar on Elvet Bridge for a drink before planning an evening swim in the hotel’s leisure complex.
Breakfast was served buffet-style in the Marriott’s Market Kitchen Restaurant, where there was plenty to choose from between traditional cooked or continental breakfast options.
Our second day in Durham included a trip just outside the city to the North East’s biggest family adventure park, Adventure Valley, an amazing indoor and outdoor facility where kids can literally run wild. We spent over 3 hours there whilst our daughter played on the outdoor bouncing pillows, helter skelter dragon slide, go-karts, swings and climbing frames. She bottle fed the baby goats, fed the hens and played with the mini feeding tractors on the pond for the ducks. Indoors, she ventured in to the play town, and the showtime theatre, and before we left we all visited the farm animals and petting animals in the farmyard barn.
Early afternoon was spent at Durham University Botanic Gardens where we walked around the 25-acre site and visited the cactus house, tropical house, and conservatory. We spotted unusual plants and flowers from Australia, South Africa and woodland forests. The weather was on our side, so we enjoyed a couple of hours doing the kids animal trail, and the science trail whilst at the Botanic Gardens.
Late afternoon we travelled back into Durham city for coffee and cake, followed by a relaxing early evening back at the Marriott. At dinner time we walked along the river to The Food Pit, where we indulged in a Mediterranean feast, a Thai treat, and a Durham Sausage Co’ hot dog, followed by a brisk stroll along the river and back to the hotel.
After breakfast the following morning, we checked out of the hotel, collected the car, and made our way from the beautiful city of Durham and on to Beamish Museum, where we enjoyed a few hours learning about the history of this part of the UK.
Our 48-hours were up and it was time to head home.
Visit www.thisisdurham.com for details on all of the above.
H&N Magazine would like to thank Visit County Durham for organising media passes to each of the attractions, and to the Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County for offering a reduced media rate for the 2-night stay.