Monday, 21 May 2018

Afternoon Tea on the Tanfield Railway

I have always wanted to dine on a steam train, in fact it's one of the items on my 40 Before 40 Bucket List  I don't know exactly what it is but enjoying food with my husband on a beautiful old steam train chugging its way through stunning landscape just sounds so romantic to me. So this year I decided it was time to tick it off the list and I booked us an afternoon tea on the Tanfield Railway.

Afternoon Tea on the Tanfield Railway


The Tanfield Railway in Gateshead is the world's oldest railway. Riding the 6 miles of track in beautiful Victorian carriages through the picture perfect wooded valleys of Gateshead and Durham is the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

An important part of North East history, the railway dates back to 1725 when the line was built to transport coal from colleries in the Tanfield area to the River Tyne for shipment and, if you're keen to learn more, the Marley Hill Engine Shed is the oldest working engine shed in the world where you can take a closer look at the steam engines.

Tanfield Railway Gateshead


There are four stops along the Tanfield Railway - Sunniside, Andrews House, Causey Arch and East Tanfield and if you book a ticket for afternoon tea you're able to travel on the trains all day and hop off at any stations that you fancy. A great way to get some fresh air and a leg stretch after indulging in your afternoon tea, there are some beautiful walking routes alongside some parts of the track and if you want to explore the Causey Bridge, the world's oldest railway bridge it's definitely worth getting off the train for a proper look.

The Tanfield Railway Gateshead


Our Afternoon Tea train departed Andrews House at 2:40 pm and we were welcomed aboard the Director's Class carriage at the front of the train. Another slice of amazing railway history, the carriage was built in 1875 as an inspector's saloon for senior officers of the North Eastern Railway.

The Director's Class Carriage is most definitely the loveliest way to journey down the train track, a small carriage with a handful of tables and super comfy chairs, there were around 18 of us sitting down for Afternoon Tea and we had the most fantastic views. The engine of the train changes position at various points during the journey so we either had a fantastic look at the front of the train or the most beautiful open scenery at the back of the train.

The Tanfield Railway Durham


When we booked our tickets we could select which table of the carriage we wanted to sit at, with tables set for either groups of two or four. We were shown to our table which was already laid out with our beautiful traditional crockery and a large plate of sandwiches.

They were Afternoon Tea classics - ham, cheese and cucumber with the crusts cut off and a generous spread of butter (whoever made these sandwiches needs to come and make me my lunches for next week because they are on the same page as me with the butter).

Afternoon Tea The Tanfield Railway Durham
Eating afternoon tea on an old steam train is so much fun. As soon as we set off our cups were rattling away and I just loved it. Tea was served to us at the table, with just a splash served each time to prevent spillages, it's pretty much impossible not to make a mess when you're pouring tea and milk on a moving steam train. We were very thankful we weren't in charge of the teapot ourselves and there were endless refills available whenever our cups were empty.

Afternoon Tea The Tanfield Railway Gateshead


Clattering our way down the train tracks sipping on tea and admiring the beautiful views of the Gateshead and Durham countryside was the most blissful way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon and if you're planning to travel on the Tanfield Railway I'm convinced that this is the best way to do it.

As we clattered our way up the tracks our host told us a brief history of the Tanfield Railway which unfortunately I couldn't really hear too well as the table next to us were getting very over excited about how much they love cheese sandwiches (I couldn't be angry at them when I also REALLY love a good cheese sandwich!)

Afternoon Tea Tanfield Railway Gateshead


Once we'd cleared our sandwiches (no prizes for guessing which table polished the plate off first!) the cakes arrived. We each had a scone, a large slab of Victoria Sponge and a Strawberry tart. Whilst the food definitely won't win any prizes for being the fanciest or best Afternoon Tea in the North East the experience of eating it on the steam train really made it all taste extra delicious.

There was no cream served with the scones (you should have seen my shocked face) so I came up with the genius idea of scooping cream off my strawberry tart to cover my scone, then swapped my tart for Simon's when he wasn't looking. I'm sure I would have got away with it if I hadn't been laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my face!

Afternoon Tea Steam Train
Having completed the challenge of managing to cut my scone with a knife on a very wobbly train, comedy moment of the journey arrived when the table next to us lost one of their cakes off the top tier and it landed (with amazing precision) into a man's teacup!

It really is so much fun eating afternoon tea on a steam train!

Afternoon Tea Steam Train - Gateshead


Just as we finished up our delicious cakes the train made a brief stop and the guard stepped into our carriage to ask if any of us wanted to have a proper look at the engine. We had no idea this was going to happen, and we were over the moon that our carriage was getting the opportunity to have an up close look at the train. The young lads driving the train were so lovely and huge fans of railways and engines so they were really interesting to chat to.

I couldn't believe how hot it was and it really made me realise how hard it must have been transporting coal up and down the line in the 1700s!

Afternoon Tea Steam Train - Durham

Our whole journey took around 70 - 80 minutes and with a really smooth and efficient service we had plenty of time to fully enjoy our afternoon tea in that time. We didn't feel rushed at all and really enjoyed the food at a leisurely pace with plenty of opportunities to admire the views and take photographs.

We both really enjoyed our day and I'm so happy that I finally got myself into gear to book the experience, it was one of the loveliest days out we've had in the North East.

Afternoon Tea Steam Train - Tanfield Railway


Afternoon Tea on the Tanfield Railway is served every Sunday and Summer Saturday until 27 August and costs £25.00 for Adults, £22.00 for Seniors and £20.00 for Children. Pre booking is essential!

If Afternoon Tea isn't your thing then unlimited travel all day is £10.00 for adults, £6.00 for children and £8.00 for Seniors and there's a tea room, canteen and gift shop at different stations along the track so you won't go hungry!

It's worth knowing that Tanfield Railway run loads of different events throughout the year including Murder Mystery Evenings, Heritage Open Days, Ghost Trains and the very popular North Pole Express. Discover more of their events here.

Tanfield Railway - Afternoon Tea


Find The Tanfield Railway at:

Marley Hill Engine Shed
Old Marley Hill
Gateshead 
NE16 5ET

07508 092 365

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Top 5 North East Adventures in 5 Years! Happy 5th Birthday New Girl in Toon

Reaching the age of 5 feels like something that should really be celebrated!  I never would have thought when I opened up my laptop 5 years ago and began writing a blog that New Girl in Toon would last so long and be so successful.

To celebrate I thought it would be fun to rummage through the archives and share my top five adventures in the North East, picking each one from when I first started my blog in 2013 (get ready for some giggles!) right up to 2018.

The Top 5 North East Adventures in 5 Years! Happy 5th Birthday New Girl in Toon


2013 - A Picnic at Saltwell Park

Picking a post from 2013 to share with you wasn't an easy job, I didn't exactly have a great choice of high quality blogs to choose from (please don't go back and read any others!) but as we're chatting about the top 5 adventures in the North East I'm throwing it back to July 2013 when we went on a picnic to Saltwell Park, an adventure that certainly stands the test of time! Saltwell Park in Gateshead is somewhere that we've spent a lot of time over the years, we even had our engagement photo shoot there in 2016.

On this particular day back in 2013 we made a quick visit to the (retro old style) Fenwick's Food Hall to stock up on picnic goodies and then made our way to Gateshead for an afternoon of lounging about in the beautiful sunshine. I was very new to the North East and Simon and I hadn't been dating that long so it's certainly a memory that I hold very dear.

Crazy to think that this is actually the last picnic that we went on!

Fancy a little look at the old Fenwick's Food Hall - read all about our Picnic at Saltwell Park 

New Girl in Toon - Saltwell Park Picnic


2014 - Exploring North Tyneside

There's nothing like looking back at a blog post from 4 years ago to make you realise that maybe you need a wardrobe refresh. I still wear this outfit!

Exploring North Tyneside has to be one of the greatest North East adventures that you can have, it's still one of our favourite things to do on a Sunday afternoon. Ambling along the seafront eating ice-cream, going crazy for all of the lovely little dogs we meet and playing Dinosaur Crazy Golf in Tynemouth.

On this particular day back in 2014 we started our stroll in North Shields and walked all the way along to Whitley Bay (with a cheeky stop at Beaches and Cream for huge ice-cream sundaes of course!)

Why am I wearing so much eyeliner? Have a giggle and read all about exploring North Tyneside.

New Girl in Toon - North Tyneside


2015 - Glamping in Northumberland

When I think back to all the opportunities this blog has brought me, staying in a Shepherd's Hut with the Bells of Hemscott at Druridge Bay is one of my favourite moments, it's an experience that will stay with me forever.

I'd always wanted to go camping but never thought that Simon would be up for it so when the opportunity came along to stay in a Shepherd's Hut I was over the moon. I had the most fantastic evening roasting marshmallows on an open fire, skipping about on Druridge Bay and having a wonderful night of no TV and no technology .. we actually had to speak to each other!

Yes I'm dressed like a fisherman leave me alone! Read all about our experience Glamping in Northumberland 

New Girl in Toon - Bells of Hemscott


2016 - Climbing Grey's Monument

Climbing to the top of Grey's Monument in Newcastle was something that I'd been wanting to do ever since I arrived in the North East yet it took me until 2016 to finally get round to booking us some tickets and I'm so glad we finally got the chance to climb the 164 steps to the top because it was the most amazing experience and those views have to be the best in Newcastle.

If you ever get the opportunity to climb Grey's Monument (they usually release tickets once a year!) then make sure that you go.

Check out the beautiful views across the Toon! Read all about our adventure climbing Grey's Monument.

New Girl in Toon - Monument


2017 - Newcastle in the Sky

Picking only one adventure from last year was incredibly tough as we did so many fantastic things. The one thing that really sticks in my mind though is Newcastle in the Sky when we got to dine at a table hoisted 100 feet in the air over Newcastle. As much as I love amazing views I was so nervous when the table first hoisted up but it was a truly beautiful experience and one that I don't think I'll ever be able to recapture. I really hope they come back to entertain us again this year.

Dining in the Sky! Read all about our evening dining in the sky

New Girl in Toon - Dine in the Sky

Before I sign off I just have to say a massive thank you to every single one of you who have commented on a blog post, shared my work or sent me a lovely message. This blog was created out of my love for the North East and to this day it is the only reason that I still create new content every week. Chatting about the North East is my passion and this site has given me the most amazing opportunities to collaborate with local businesses and people to help promote our beautiful region - I am so proud to be an ambassador for the North East and that my readers give me such a great reason to indulge myself in the wonderful delights of the region.

Thank you!
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Thursday, 17 May 2018

Afternoon Tea at Wynyard Hall

Can you believe that we are still desperately trying to work our way round all of the most popular afternoon teas in the North East? It's been years and years of scone scoffing, tea slurping and sugar overdoses and we've still barely scratched the surface! Recently we ticked another off the list with afternoon tea at Wynyard Hall.

Now I don't want to ruin this review by going in too big too soon but I can't keep this information to myself any longer. After years of hunting to find anywhere that comes even slightly close to our current favourite afternoon tea in the North East, we've actually done it. Afternoon Tea at Wynyard Hall ticks every box.

Afternoon Tea at Wynyard Hall is perfection and annoyingly I don't think I'm going to be able to find the words to truly express how I felt about it and how much we both loved our experience. But let's give it a go!

Afternoon Tea at Wynyard Hall is served in the Library and as we were escorted to our table in the middle of the room my jaw did somewhat hit the floor. We were welcomed into the most beautiful room with huge windows framed  by plush velvet curtains, floor to ceiling bookshelves covered in gold features, breathtaking displays of fresh flowers and, the centre piece, a stunning piano.



With almost every seat in the Library taken the atmosphere was perfect for afternoon tea with a gentle murmur of happy voices filling the room. Looking round we noticed friends catching up, couples celebrating over glasses of fizz and an 18th birthday party. Each table had an impressive looking cakestand on it and we couldn't wait to get our hands on our own.

There are a few different afternoon teas to choose from at Wynyard Hall and we decided to go for the Standard Afternoon Tea with English Breakfast (£23.50 per person).  It wasn't long before our pot of tea turned up and being the afternoon tea snobs that we are we couldn't resist having a little high five when we noticed the tea strainer, afternoon tea with lose leaf tea is one of life's greatest joys.



A few moments later our afternoon tea appeared and, thanks to my nut allergy, we had a stand each which I was thrilled about as I wouldn't have to keep an eye on Simon to ensure he wasn't swiping my cakes.

Starting off with the savoury tier we indulged in Egg Mayonnaise & Cress, Smoked Salmon & Pesto, Tuna, Chorizo & Rocket and Wiltshire Ham, Pea, Parsley and Creme Fraiche sandwiches. It was nice to see some different fillings and it certainly inspired us to get more creative with our sandwiches at home. I'd never tried Salmon and Pesto together before and wow it was good! Each sandwich was served on a different style of bread which made the stand look really eye catching and gave the afternoon tea that little something extra.



We knew we were in for a treat with the scones as we could smell them as soon as the afternoon tea arrived. They were served warm and smelt divine! Our knives cut through them effortlessly and they were the fluffiest scones we have ever seen. Without a doubt these were the best scones that we have ever had on an afternoon tea.

With a plain and fruit scone each to enjoy I took full advantage of not having to share my pot of jam with Simon and had a little chuckle to myself when I noticed that he'd spread his entire pot on one scone and not left anything for his second (what an amateur!)



Scones always fill us up and it was time for a little rest before we battled the final tier. Simon decided to rest his eyes and I'm sure he had a little snooze in the patch of sun that was pouring in through the large windows whilst I indulged in a spot of people watching, secretly making a note to upgrade to a fizz afternoon tea on our next visit.

When we were ready to continue we turned our attention to the colourful top tier of cakes that looked too good to eat! Produced by Wynyard Hall's talented pastry chefs they included a mini tart (with the most perfect buttery pastry), a delicious pot of Rhubarb Crumble Custard and a little sponge cake. We were so full and struggled to finish but when cake tastes this good you have to commit and get the job done.



With our table completely covered in empty plates we turned to each other with wide eyes. We both knew it but wasn't sure who was going to say it first.

This was, without a doubt, the best afternoon tea we've ever had in the North East!



If you want to enjoy afternoon tea at Wynyard Hall for yourself, the standard afternoon tea costs £23.50 per person (with optional supplements if you'd like to enjoy some fizz with your tea), the Gentleman's Afternoon Tea costs £27.50 and the Children's Afternoon Tea costs £15.00 per child and I highly recommend you get yourselves booked in as soon as possible!



Find Wynyard Hall at:

Wynyard
Stockton on Tees
Billingham
TS22 5NF

01740 644 811

Wynyard Hall invited us to enjoy a complimentary afternoon tea for review purposes. All opinions are our own. 
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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Low Newton to Beadnell - Walking the Coastal Path in Northumberland

Walking the coastal path in Northumberland is one of my favourite ways to spend a sunny afternoon and with miles and miles of coastline to explore I'm keen to get as much ground covered as possible this Summer in my effort to discover more of the North East's most beautiful scenery. We decided to start our adventures with the coastal footpath between Low Newton and Beadnell, a walk which many say is one of the most stunning along the Northumberland coast.

Low Newton to Beadnell - Walking the Coastal Path in Northumberland


With the small carpark at Low Newton full (no surprise as the Ship Inn in the village has to most popular pub on the Northumberland coastline!) we parked our car a short stroll up the road at a free carpark just off the B1340 as you come into the village, the perfect spot for a quick visit to The Joiners Arms.

Without meaning to, this walk became a coastal pub to pub route for us and starting our walk at The Joiners Arms with drinks in their sunny beer garden was the perfect way to start the day. If you arrive at lunchtime the pub serve up some rather lovely looking dishes and it's a charming little place filled with hidden corners and pretty fairy lights - just make sure you don't forget to leave and start your walk!

Joiners Arms
The coastal footpath at Low Newton is easily found just before you get to the beach and is clearly signposted (essential for walkers like us who very easily get lost!). A word of warning before you begin, the signpost claims that the walk to Beadnell is 2.5 miles and it really isn't!

Believing the signs, we were wearing fashion trainers rather than walking shoes and I really don't recommend you follow our lead. The walk is around 4 miles and sensible footwear is needed (I'm still cleaning sand off my expensive Addidas trainers!)

The more adventurous can make their way to Beadnell navigating the sand dunes or stroll along the beach but as this was our first time we decided to follow the coastal path which runs behind the dunes and offers walkers a lovely easy route between the villages.

Low Newton to Beadnell - Walking the Coastal Path


The walk was perfect for us, a few little hills and dips to challenge our legs, a couple of styles to climb (always makes me feel like I'm on a proper adventure if I get to do some climbing!) and some glorious coastal views to admire.


Low Newton to Beadnell - Coastal Path
We were a little confused when we realised that the sign at the start of our walk  had been fibbing and that we were committed to a few extra miles but we really couldn't grumble, especially when we realised a number of very happy people walking the opposite way to us were completing a 26 mile hike along the Northumberland coastal path.

Whilst 26 miles does seem like a very long way, I can see why people want to push themselves to go just a little further along the path, with so much to discover along the way the route takes you along some of the most stunning coastline in the North East as well as in and out of some of my favourite villages. Maybe one day we'll do the whole 26 miles for ourselves!

Low Newton to Beadnell Northumberland
Around 2 hours later (yes we were ambling pretty slowly!) we found ourselves in Beadnell. The coastal path ends at the Caravan Park at the Bay, which was people watching heaven to someone nosy like me. The smell of BBQs filled the air and weaving in between the cute little homes had us suddenly wanting to plan a caravan holiday (yes really!)

If your legs are tired this is the perfect place to end your adventure with some food at Bait, the cutest little takeout food van I've ever seen. However, we decided to press on a little further into the village in search of The Craster Arms, home to perhaps the biggest beer garden in Northumberland and somewhere that serves up huge portions of food, perfect for the hungry adventurer.

Low Newton to Beadnell Northumberland Walk


I had been craving fish and chips as soon as we'd left Low Newton (there's something about sea air that makes me want to indulge) so ordered the Craster Giant Beer Battered Cod served with chips, mushy peas and house tartare sauce (£13.00) and Simon opted to refuel with The Craster Burger (£11.00).

Look how huge my portion is!  Wow!

The Craster Arms Beadnell
The Craster Arms is definitely a great place to stop for some carb loading after your walk and, if you did fancy turning this into a pub to pub walk it's a brilliant sunny spot to enjoy a few beers in the huge garden.

Of course proper explorers would follow the coastal footpath the entire way back to Low Newton but if, like us, you fancy a little cheat you can come off the footpath and amble back up the B1340 which cuts a fair bit off the walk back.

This is probably why we'll never be able to call ourselves proper walkers!

I'd love to know your favourite spots to go walking, we're hoping to get a few more done over the Summer months, this is just the beginning!
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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Steak Night at Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse, Newcastle - New Menu Review

Any foodie will tell you that indulging in a good quality steak is one of life's greatest joys, they will probably also tell you that well prepared delicious steak isn't the easiest thing to find on a menu. I can count on one hand places in Newcastle that serve up steaks that pass my quality test! So when I heard that Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse in Newcastle now have steaks on the menu I felt it my duty to investigate.

I get many questions on social media from locals and visitors to Newcastle wanting to know the best places to dine, and recommendations for restaurants that do a good steak pops up frequently, so I've decided I probably need to do some proper investigating to discover the very best steak in Newcastle!

Get nervous Longhorns, I'm a difficult lady to impress when it comes to steak night!

Steak Night at Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse, Newcastle - New Menu Review


If you're a resident of Newcastle and have never been to Longhorns, where have you been? Bringing a taste of Texas to the Toon they serve up delicious British meats (locally sourced in Northumberland where possible) rubbed in their own special blend of spices before being slow smoked over a hickory for up to 24 hours (has anyone else started dribbling slightly?)  All of their sauces and slaws are made fresh in house and they provide the folks of Newcastle with damn good scran!

I've visited a fair few times and enjoyed fully loaded meat boards, burgers bursting with barbecued meats and, my absolute obsession, Pit Beans which I have to order with every meal because they're just so damn good! So as you can see I'm a bit of a longtime fan of Longhorns and very excited at the idea of steaks appearing on the new menu.

Steak at Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse, Newcastle - New Menu Review


Steaks at Longhorns are 21 day dry-aged for supreme quality and a full flavour. Tomahawk, Sirloin and Rib Eye are all on the new menu so there'll definitely be a cut to take your fancy! Although I was very tempted to give the 16oz Tomahawk (£24.99) a go I knew it'd be far too big for me so instead opted for the 10oz Sirloin (£14.99).

All the steaks are served on a board completely covered in food so I definitely advise turning up hungry and rolling up your sleeves. I couldn't believe my eyes when my food turned up, alongside my Sirloin I had a grilled tomato and mushroom, fries, sweet potato fries (yes you read that right, two portions of fries!) and crispy onion rings.

Steaks come with a choice of a classic peppercorn sauce or, if you fancy something a little different, a jack cheese sauce. I love cheese but I can't say I've ever thought to try it with steak so I was very intrigued and couldn't help but order it. I covered my steak in a very greedy thick layer of cheese sauce and wow it was good! The perfect accompaniment to the steak and even better when I decided to dip my fries in it too.

Steak at Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse, Newcastle


I'd asked for my steak to be served rare (I just can't eat steak any other way!) and was so happy when my knife slid through it effortlessly to reveal the delicious pink meat. The chef came out a few moments after my food had arrived to check I was happy with how my meat was cooked and, with a mouth stuffed full of meat and carbs, I gave him a very happy thumbs up before continuing my way through my mountain of food.

Now may be a good time to confess that despite having enough food to feed most of Newcastle I couldn't resist ordering a portion of Pit Beans (£4.00) on the side. I certainly didn't need them but I really did have to order them.  If you haven't tried Longhorn's Pit Beans I recommend you pay them a visit just to try a pot for yourselves because they're out of this world. House beans with maple syrup, ranch bacon and bbq ends they are rich and smoky and I'm desperate to get my hands on the recipe so I can enjoy them with everything at home!

Pit Beans at Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse, Newcastle


If Steaks aren't your thing then the old favourites are still all on the menu alongside some very tasty looking newbies, I definitely want to try the "Hot Dawg" on my next visit and the "Mac and Cheese' has my name on it. My dining buddy went for another menu newbie, the Honey Glazed Ribs n Wings Sharer (£9.00) a platter of low and slow ribs glazed in honey, finished on the grill and served with slaw. I have to admit I didn't pay much attention to what she was doing because I was too busy making moon eyes at my steak but judging by the amount of sticky sauce covering her hands, the grin on her face and the empty plate, I'd say she enjoyed her food!

Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse, Newcastle
Unfortunately the steak at Longhorns defeated me! I gave it a good go but I just couldn't get through all of that food, it's not often I leave food on my plate but this time there was just no way I could finish my meal.

Steak night at Longhorns was a huge success and I can't wait to go back and try out some more of their new menu.

Let's open up the debate, how do you have your steak served?

I received a complimentary meal for two in exchange for this honest review. 
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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Hotel Indigo and Marco Pierre White - An Overnight Stay in Durham City Centre

Despite having only opened 6 weeks ago residents of Durham already have a great deal of affection for the new Hotel Indigo that has opened in the city centre. Following a £15m transformation, the hotel has opened at Old Shire Hall, the most stunning red brick building that locals know and love as the old home to the Council and university offices.

Having kept the beautiful original features of the 1890s building, planning an overnight stay at Hotel Indigo is very different to any other hotel you'll find in Durham City Centre.

Hotel Indigo and Marco Pierre White - An Overnight Stay in Durham City Centre


Ideally situated on Elvet Bridge, Hotel Indigo Durham is the perfect base to explore the city with the beautiful River Wear a short walk away, an abundance of shops, bars and tea rooms a quick stroll down the road and the wonderful history of Durham Cathedral visible from some of the hotel's bedrooms.

We checked in for an overnight stay on a very busy Saturday afternoon where the reception area was already crammed full of people ready to begin their weekend break. When we got to the desk we were happy to discover that it was the first weekend the hotel was fully booked, it was lovely to see so many visitors to Durham arriving at the hotel.

Hotel Indigo Durham City Centre


Bedrooms at Hotel Indigo Durham

There are 83 bedrooms in the Hotel Indigo Durham, each taking design inspiration from Durham Cathedral or University with affordable standard rooms or, if you fancy treating yourself to something a little fancier, rooms offering a Cathedral view, larger superior rooms or suites for more special occasions.

Hotel Indigo Durham


Our home for the night was a superior room inspired by the Durham Boat Regatta it was a treasure trove of amazing local history and we loved the attention to detail with some beautiful photos and prints displayed round the room and, the main design feature, some wooden oars hung above the bed.

Hotel Indigo Durham - Bedrooms


Jumping up on to the king sized bed, I felt a bit like royalty when I realised it was so high my feet were swinging in the air (cue many jokes every time my slightly shorter than average husband tried to get on or off the bed - hilarious!). Covered in huge squishy pillows and cushions printed with the University of Durham motto, we had our own separate reading lights and so much space I could fully stretch my arm out without touching Simon!

Hotel Indigo Durham City


The complimentary snack tray was the first thing my husband headed towards when we got into our room. Loaded with local treats including fresh gourmet Durham cinder toffee and Ringtons biscuits making ourselves a coffee using the fancy N'espresso machine in our room in the Durham mugs and climbing into our complementary robes was the first thing on our agenda for the afternoon.

Durham Hotel Indigo


Our spa inspired ensuite bathroom was my favourite part of the room, it was seriously beautiful with its exposed brickwork and marble counter. The complementary Old Elvet Durham toiletries were heavenly, exclusively created for the hotel, the mint, rosemary and lavender scented products were inspired by The Monks of Durham Cathedral who used to grow mint and rosemary on the banks of the River Wear.

The large waterfall shower was hot and powerful and, the very best part, so easy to use.  Does anyone else ever climb into the shower in a hotel and then find themselves completely puzzled by how to switch it on, or am I just a little daft? The shower at Hotel Indigo consisted of two large buttons, one to operate each of the two shower heads and a simple dial to change the temperature. Perfect!

Durham Hotel Indigo - Spa Bathroom

Exploring Hotel Indigo Durham

Hotel Indigo open their hotels in vibrant neighbourhoods, using local influences to inspire their designs to ensure that each hotel is completely different, so it's easy to see why they've opened their latest UK based hotel in the stunning city of Durham.

The Grade 2 listed building has kept many of its original features and the hotel is adorned with the most beautiful coloured tiles, stained glass windows, gold banisters and stunning dark wooden carvings and furniture.

New Hotel Indigo Durham


I spent most of our visit barely paying attention to where I was walking as I was so mesmerised by the features of the hotel. Victorian luxury balances perfectly with fun modern twists and it's quite the place to lose yourself in (which I did several times thanks to the never ending corridors!)

The hotel has four floors, each named after a different area of Durham, The Mansard, the Bishops, The Elvets and The Vennels. The top two floors are solely bedrooms but the bottom two also have a restaurant, cocktail bar, coffee house and fitness suite.

Hotel Indigo Durham Tiles


Coffee Break at Tinderbox

Exploring is hard work so we decided to enjoy a bit of a rest at Hotel Indigo's coffee shop which you'll find in the Reception area of the hotel.

Tinderbox is a beautiful place to relax with a cup of coffee and we noticed plenty of non residents coming in for a cuppa and a natter, it's certainly a popular new spot and the pavement cafe style seating outside the coffee shop will be great in the Summer.

Hotel Indigo Durham - Tinderbox


After spending a while eyeing up the very tasty looking cakes on the counter we managed to resist (that's a first!) and ordered a cup of coffee each which set us back £5.50. Taking advantage of the super speedy wifi we both plugged in although I found it pretty hard to concentrate as it was very cold. Unfortunately the coffee shop has two large doors leading to outside so on colder days it gets a little nippy.

If, like me,  you do feel the cold the "Snug" behind the cake counter has a few seats away from the doors that looks super cosy, unfortunately we discovered it a little too late.

Hotel Indigo Durham - Coffee Shop
Dinner at Marco Pierre White

Get ready for the most amazing food!

Guests at Hotel Indigo Durham are in for a real treat as the hotel's restaurant is a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill housed in the most beautiful room of the hotel. The restaurant is set out below the dome of the old Council room and it is so stunning it needs to be seen to be believed.

Hotel Indigo Durham - Marco Pierre White


For my Starter I decided to go for the Cream of Pumpkin Soup (£6.50). Once I'd got over the initial disappointment of it not coming with a chunk of bread (as a huge bread and butter fiend it's one of the reasons why I quite like ordering soup) I was treated to the most delicious bowl of thick, hot, creamy soup. It was so delicious that towards the end I picked up my bowl to give it a little tip to ensure I got to every last bit of it! I really shouldn't be allowed to eat out in public!

Marco Pierre White Durham


I've enjoyed many Steaks at Marco Pierre White in Newcastle so this time I decided to go for a burger instead, choosing myself The French Burger (£14.95) - BBQ glazed burger stuffed full with melted cheese, crispy onion rings and Dijon mustard served with pomme frites. It was perfect, if a little messy! Trying to eat a burger nicely in a restaurant is impossible so I rolled my sleeves up and dove straight in.

Marco Pierre White Durham - Burgers


Our waiter had promised me the finest onion rings I have ever had and he wasn't wrong, the batter was so crispy and the tower of them inside my burger felt like the ultimate weekend treat.

Marco Pierre White Durham - Burger


For my dessert I opted for the Fresh Bluberry Cheese (£5.95) and although it was scrummy (indulgently thick cream cheese, sweet blueberry and a lovely crumbly base) it was my only disappointment of the evening as it came served in a glass. I don't know if it's just me but I'm really not a huge fan of desserts in pots and glasses and I'd been looking forward to a traditionally served cheesecake and was a bit surprised when I had to eat it out of a pot with a spoon.

Marco Pierre White Durham - Dessert


If we weren't so tired and boring we definitely would have left our table and headed straight for the hotel's Rotunda Cocktail Bar and Lounge and enjoyed a few drinks. The bar is gorgeous and was very busy when we walked through with excited people enjoying the beautiful new space but those burgers had left us very sleepy and we needed to retire to our bed.

Hotel Indigo  Durham - Rotunda Cocktail Bar


The Breakfast Table at Hotel Indigo Durham

Breakfast at Hotel Indigo Durham is served between 6:30 am and 10:00 am on week days and 07:00 and 10:30 am at weekends in the restaurant giving guests another opportunity to enjoy that beautiful room. The only thing distracting me from gawping at the stunning architecture again was the most epic looking breakfast table loaded with just about every breakfast treat you could think of. I've seen a lot of very lovely breakfast spreads in my time but this was on another level!

Hotel Indigo Durham - Breakfast Table
Fresh bread (which you could cut yourself to indulge in extra chunky slices!), endless jars of different flavored jams, cheeses and meats, huge bowls of yoghurts, tins of muffins, piles of pastries and endless options of juices, smoothies and cereals. My eyes were out on stalks, my tummy was rumbling and in all honesty I just wanted to pick up one of everything.

Realising I had to have some kind of self control I settled on a bowl of cereal and a lemon muffin whilst perusing the hot dish menu which was so good it took me a while to come to any kind of a decision. I was so tempted by the Durham Pancakes, Porridge served with Toasted Almonds and Honey or Traditional Cured Kipper but in the end opted for the Smoked Salmon.

Hotel Indigo Durham - Breakfast


My Smoked Salmon was served on local wholemeal loaf with smashed avocado, halloumi and wilted spinach. It was delicious and made me realise I should make more effort to make my breakfasts at home more appetising!

Simon opted for Scrambled Eggs on a Toasted Bagel. The portion of scrambled egg was so generous and looked deliciously creamy.

Hotel Indigo Durham - Breakfasts


Late Check Out 

One of the very best things about Hotel Indigo in Durham is how late the checkout was. There was no scrabbling around to pack our cases and get out in the morning with every guest having a wonderful 12:00 pm checkout time. We were on go slow after breakfast, making the most of our beautiful surroundings before sleepily ambling our way down to Reception to check out. We weren't exactly in any hurry to leave!

Hotel Indigo


We loved our stay at Hotel Indigo in Durham and Simon's already mentioned that next time we're in the city for the evening we should treat ourselves to a night's stay rather than catching the train back to Newcastle. I have to say this is definitely the best plan he's ever come up with, I can't wait to go back!

We enjoyed a complimentary stay with dinner and breakfast at Hotel Indigo Durham in exchange for this honest review. Coffees at Tinderbox were paid for by us.
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