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“A grande dame shows her age”

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Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County
Ranked #8 of 19 Hotels in Durham
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level Contributor
159 reviews
77 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 190 helpful votes
“A grande dame shows her age”
Reviewed 2 August 2010

I used to go to Durham every year as a child - my mother grew up there and my grandfather still lived there. The "County" was always talked of in hushed tones. The swanky hotel where the prime minister stayed when he was up for the Miners' Gala. It was without a doubt, the grand hotel of Durham.

I decided to take my kids up for a week to wallow in a bit of nostalgia and also to take them to the many attractions in the vicinity. I checked the Marriott website and the hotel still looked grand with beautifully furnished rooms and a lovely pool.

It has some good points. The location is outstanding - a very short walk from all the attractions and within a five minute walk of a variety of restaurants. The pool complex with sauna and steam room is quite nice. And the staff are all lovely local North Easterners who are the friendliest people in the country, if not the planet. Consequently the service was excellent.

But to be honest it's just a little bit tired. It's like Marriott did the cheapest possible makeover. The rooms were just not as nice as they looked on the website. The beds had good quality linen, but were a bit too hard for my liking, and with hard pillows. The bathroom was functional but in the twenty-first century I'd rather have mixer taps than individual hot (ouch) and cold (brrrr) ones. The room (a supreme one) was spacious which was good as I had young kids and gave them space to play, but it was all just a bit lacklustre and for £135 per night without breakfast I'd have expected something a tad nicer really.

The food in the restaurant was also overpriced for the (poor) quality. Again the staff were lovely; in fact when one fellow diner complained about how awful the meal was, the staff didn't charge him for it.. We had breakfast one day too, but for £14.95 a head I'd have expected something just a bit better. Since the location is so good the poor quality food didn't really matter as we just went out for breakfast and dinner to local restaurants, but you may not want to do that in winter or when the weather is poor.

My other big gripe was the charge for internet access. I bought a laptop so I could use it to check emails and see what attractions we could visit, but the hotel charge a whopping £15 a day, or £75 a week, which is ludicrous. I guess it sums up what this hotel is really - just a middle market corporate affair, which earns money from the lucrative conference trade and probably doesn't really care much about individuals taking a leisure trip there.

Which is a shame because the lovely staff and good people of Durham deserve better.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank rosiefromlondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (307)
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English first
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 July 2010

Beautiful hotel. The rooms are very clean and comfortable. The bar area is very relaxing and the food very enjoyable. The rooms are expensive, however it's to be expected from such a fantastic hotel.

  • Stayed July 2010
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Bellaandthimble
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cumbria
Level Contributor
108 reviews
50 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 July 2010

We stayed for the 2 nights after the Miner's Gala & the hotel wasn't overbusy. At check in we were upgraded to a superior room which was spacious, had a 3 seater sofa & queen bed. Very comfortable although quite hot even with both windows open. We did have air conditioning which we did use & it was fine on low fan speed but incredibly noisy on fast .
We were on a Beamish package for £113 per night including 2 tickets to Beamish Museum, dinner 1st night & breakfast both days.
The restaurant is very comfortable & spacious, linen tablecloths, carver chairs etc. The A La Carte menu has plenty of choice plus Table D'Hote at £23 for 3 courses. We had something from both menus, paying supplements for some items as the inclusive dinner was from the Table D'Hote. We both had scallops with streaky bacon to start & they were MAGNIFICENT. The main courses were very poor. Duck breast was specifically requested to have crispy skin & pink flesh. Soggy skin & tough overcooked poor quality meat. Steamed salmon fillet with cheese & spinach sauce had lovely piece of fish ruined by the heavy over cheesy sauce. Puddings also were poor.
Breakfast is taken in the Brasserie with most food on a hot & cold buffet. We ordered poached eggs to be cooked to order - solid yolks!
After our first day out at Beamish having left at 9.15am, we returned at 3.30pm to find our room as we left it - not happy as we really wanted to relax. After a discussion with the very helpful Housekeeping manager, we had tea in the conservatory & later returned to our newly serviced room with no bath towels!
Parking is limited & free. We managed to find a space each day but it was pretty full.
The location is excellent, easy to find and everything is within walking distance.
We would return but definitely wouldn't have dinner there again.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank excraftybakers18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
34 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 July 2010

We stayed here during the weekend of the Durham Miners' Gala (unbeknownst to us) so the hotel was very busy. However, it was the little things which marked the hotel out. Such as staff trying to communicate with Spanish guests by shouting very loudly in heavy north-eastern accented English, the insanely slow (but sweet) waiting staff, the bar staff who seemed to prefer taking a drinks' order one drink at a time, just the overall 1980s feel to the place.

It can be refreshing to stay in a chain hotel which retains its local character and does not fall to soulless, identikit experiences, but this one veered too far of the mark. The room decor was drab and fussy (who needs that many cushions? there must be thousands throughout the hotel). We also experienced the noisy air-conditioning in a non-air-conditioned room: quite an achievement.

We did like the offer that we could buy the bed for £1550. But it wasn't *that* comfy. Biggest bed I've ever seen though...

The restaurant was very expensive for the quality of the food, but I'm not sure that there are many alternatives in the area.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank jaggyjaggy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Knutsford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
108 reviews
67 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 June 2010

Spent a sleepless night in a non air-conditioned room which nevertheless suffered from a loud, rattley air duct/ventilation shaft nearby. We had thought the room had air-conditioning when we checked in as there was a panel on the wall but discovered on our return in the evening that this was for heating only and was switched off. The noise from the duct was overwhelming however and could not be turned off - it went on all night. Had we realised earlier, we would have requested a room change. Our friends in another part of the hotel did have some air-conditioning (they thought) but also had unrelated noise externally which kept them awake too.

In general, apart from the poor infrastructure (I'd have thought a 4 star hotel would have either air-conditioned or, where not required, noise-free, quiet rooms), the room and bathroom fittings/furniture are looking tired. Curtains, duvet covers, cushions and decor were however fresh and up to date. This does not compensate however for no sleep!

On checking out, we brought this shortcoming to the attention of the receptionist who seemed fairly indifferent to it although did mention that some rooms had previously been identified as suffering from similar conditions. The room maid was well aware of the noise situation when we mentioned it and pointed out other rooms which also suffered on our floor. We overheard later another couple complaining about the same thing so why had something not been done about it before! In particular, I would avoid any rooms in the Leisure Centre/Riverside wing. The other parts of the hotel, I do not know about.

Otherwise, service was fjust about OK. There are no guest survey forms however and no information on the local area readily available. A map and guide to the city was produced when requested. The public areas are well maintained and the leisure centre and pool (although not visited by us) apparently quite good.

On the whole, we thought the hotel not quite up to 4 star (I guess the pool counts for a lot towards the rating). And something ought to be done about the noise/venting issues which are really unacceptable in a 4 star. I would not recommend this hotel and I am sure better value could be obtained (maybe without some of the frills) nearby.

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank LoveFrenchWine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
hull
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 19 June 2010

We booked this hotel as a treat after our wedding in gretna green expecting quality rooms and a warm friendly welcome how wrong we were. The first room we were given was smelly and damp horrid. The second room was an improvement but by no means what we expected after spending most of our night awake due to a very loud unit outside the window. This and the fact that there were drug users needles outside we felt left us no option but to leave not the perfect end to our trip that we had anticipated. whilst the food in the bar was adequate the room was like an old folks home. We left after one night and would never consider staying there again. Durham itself was worth a visit but the hotel should be given a wide berth.

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank deeHull
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Littlehampton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
434 reviews
81 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 182 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 June 2010

"Our upscale hotel, part of which dates back to the 17th century, offers modern amenities while preserving historic charm and exquisite features such as antiques and original prints." Stayed for one night in a suite on the ground floor. It fits in well with the Durham feel, comfortable seats around the bar and food in the restaurant was excellent. Although we squeezed our car in the car park it was full most of the time. You can park outside if you can find a space on the road and its free between 6pm and 8am. The room was generally clean and tidy and fairly quiet. Durham, on a sunny day is a really nice place. Not inexpensive. Wireless internet but you have to pay for 24hrs. Didn't visit the pool.

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Teacake_Taster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County

Property: Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County
Address: Old Elvet, Durham DH1 3JN, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Durham > Durham
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in Durham
#4 Luxury Hotel in Durham
#8 Business Hotel in Durham
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County 4*
Number of rooms: 150
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the heart of the historic city of Durham, this hotel – part of which dates back to circa 1630 – boasts views of Durham Cathedral and Castle and is situated on the banks of the River Wear. The Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County is ideally located within this University city, a short walk away from the world famous Cathedral and Castle. Through Durham’s cobbled streets, explore this unique city’s blend of old and new with shops, bars and restaurants to suit all. No 59 Old Elvet restaurant serves a full buffet breakfast with a choice of a la carte options, along with dinner from the Source Grill menu featuring Chef’s unique signature dishes. Afternoon Tea is served daily and a glass of Champagne can be added for an extra special touch. Later in the day choose from an extensive range of classic and contemporary cocktails in the Durham Bar. Alternatively our Starbucks store, situated on the ground floor of the hotel, serves a wide variety of teas, coffees, sandwiches and pastries throughout the day. Relax with a visit to the hotel’s leisure centre, complete with indoor swimming pool, gym, spa bath, sauna and steam room. The hotel is also ideally located for exploring the north east and its surrounding areas. Just 15 miles (24 km) from the centre of Newcastle and 11 miles (18 km) from Sunderland. Other local attractions include: Beamish – The Living Museum of the North, The Bowes Museum, High Force Waterfall and Durham Adventure Valley to name but a few. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Marriott Durham
Durham Marriott

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