We had the absolute pleasure of staying at Durham’s newest hotel, Hotel Indigo Durham, over the Easter holidays and it’s fair to say we were well and truly spoilt! It was such an honour to be invited as some of the first people to stay in this historical and stunningly beautiful building located in the city centre of Durham. This article, and our video tour below, shares some of our favourite features of the luxury boutique hotel. First let me tell you a little about the building because if like me you’re not local to Durham you’ll not know about its historical past and importance to the city.
Prior to a £15million transformation, this grade-II listed building was the Old Shire Hall, built-in the 19th century as the headquarters for Durham County Council.
In the 1960’s she was taken over by Durham University and used as admin offices before sadly being left empty in 2012. I can imagine it must have been heartbreaking for anyone familiar with the building to see her looking unloved and forgotten for a few years. I’m sure many glasses were raised in the bars across the city when developers announced they were converting her into a 83 bedroom luxury hotel. (Especially when they promised to bring her back to life by retaining many of her original features, which is exactly what they have done!)
Our video tour of Hotel Indigo Durham including nearby attractions
Our first & lasting impressions – Hotel Indigo, Durham
You cannot fail to be impressed as you drive up to the red brick Old Shire Hall. Walking into the hotel for the first time I felt like I had stepped back into the Victorian era. Elaborate brass carvings decorate the lobby walls and stunning stained glass windows project a colourful light onto the floors covered in parquet and fancy marble tiles. My boys took an instant shine to the old school desk and cloaks in the entrance whilst my husband and I thought the original council front desk, stylish high-backed chairs and lighting created a very grand and welcoming reception area.
We were warmly greeted by the front desk manager who proudly pointed out that the hotel had lots more authentic surprises in store for us, including locally sourced goodies in our bedrooms. Of course my boys ears pricked up at the word ‘goodies’ and they were off down the corridors in search of our rooms. They were bouncing up and down in excitement by the time my hubby and I arrived having taken our time taking photos of the grand staircases, quirky chairs and artwork reflecting Durham’s historical past.
It was great fun to stay at the hotel during the opening week, there was a real buzz about the place. We kept bumping into former county council and university employees who had popped in to take a tour around the building. They were genuinely excited to find that their old offices still had many of the features and furniture that they fondly remembered.
Sneaky peak around our rooms
It always amazes me when we stay at hotels how my husband, boys and I all pick out different features of our accommodation. My boys entered our two adjoining guest rooms first and excitedly ran around pointing out the quirky artefacts. They loved the old books and microscope displayed on the bookshelves and they couldn’t wait to try the local sourced goodies of cinder toffee, biscuits and popcorn left on our tea-tray. I loved the Durham maps and art work on the walls, the luxurious bath/body products and lush soft furnishings which dressed the stylish rooms perfectly. My husband was most impressed with the huge walk in shower, mini fridge and the inbuilt chrome cast on our Samsung tv (typical bloke!)
The hotel bedrooms are all themed, we were in academic themed rooms decorated with old school science artefacts and academic paraphernalia from Durham University. We didn’t get the chance to see the Durham Cathedral themed rooms (with views of the cathedral) but from the website they look super stylish too.
Is Hotel Indigo Durham family friendly?
Although the hotel doesn’t have family rooms they do have rooms which interconnect. We stayed in adjoining rooms and let me tell you it was such a treat! Normally when we stay in a hotel we are all in one room together. Hubby and I tend to spend the evening creeping around in the dark trying not to wake our boys up. It was a luxury to have interconnecting rooms and be able to enjoy our evenings watching the huge flat screen TV on the comfy huge bed. On the first night I literally could not wait to get comfortable in the fluffy white dressing gown left in our room and watch a movie whilst sipping on a glass of bubbly. (I told you we were spoilt!)
The only slight criticisms I had of our rooms were that there was no bath to bathe kids in and no bed rails. (To prevent my boys rolling out of bed in the middle of the night we pushed the double bed against the wall and padded the other side with pillows but it’s worth bringing bed rails with you if you are travelling with young kids). Some of the hotel rooms do have baths, (lush Victorian style ones no less!) so it’s worth requesting a room with a bath when you make your booking.
Breakfast fit for a king!
One of the many highlights of our three night stay at Hotel Indigo was breakfast each morning in the Marco Pierre White restaurant. The former council debating chamber has been elegantly renovated to create a unique dining experience….
The eggs Benedict were to die for and my boys couldn’t believe their luck when they spotted bacon, pancakes and maple syrup on the menu!
It’s worth noting even if you are not staying at Hotel Indigo you can still experience some of what she has to offer. The Marco Pierre White restaurant is open to the general public (for lunch and dinner), as is the Rotunda Cocktail Bar and Tinderbox Coffee Shop. (Three perfect excuses to have a little nosey!)
Final thoughts – Hotel Indigo Durham
As you would expect for a brand new hotel we did experience a couple of teething problems but nothing that will not be fixed when the staff have had time to settle into their roles. The front door on one of our rooms wouldn’t lock as it was warped (which makes me think we were possibly the first people to ever stay in the room). Alternative rooms were offered but we were happy to just put the bolt across and happily popped open the bottle of champagne they delivered to our room for the inconvenience. I think this city centre hotel will be a roaring success and fully expect that the next time we try to book, (and there definitely will be a next time as we loved the energetic vibe of the city) it will be fully booked up. So if you are reading this and are tempted to book a room, get booking now!
As I’m sure you can guess from our rather gushy review above, we loved our three night stay at Hotel Indigo. We’ve stayed in historical hotels before but nothing quite like this. She is truly special. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending her if you are looking for a luxury, boutique hotel smack-bang in the heart of Durham city.
P.S I’ve realised when reading though this review that I’ve referred to the hotel as a ‘her’. I was going to change it but to be honest it just feels right! The hotel has a very lady like personality and character. If you’ve visited I would love to know if you feel the same way?
Hotel Indigo, Durham website: www.ihg.com/hotelindigo
Pin for later: Review & video tour – Hotel Indigo Durham
Disclosure – We were invited to stay at Hotel Indigo as part of our press trip with This Is Durham (www.thisisdurham.com). All words and opinions are, as always, my own.