County Durham


Photo of County Durham

About County Durham

Once considered coal mining country, County Durham has been moving back to its pastoral roots over the past few decades, highlighted by the pretty villages and market towns with their medieval hubs amid the lush, green landscape. The North Pennines and Teesdale Hills are within the borders of County Durham, and the landscape then flattens out across the region as it heads for the coast following the routes of the Tees and Wear Rivers. Beautiful Durham has many of the county’s major man-made sights, and is one of the best places to stay in County Durham if you’re here to explore further afield or just for a mini-break. But many of our recommendations are rural manor houses turned country house hotels, offering elegant escapes to County Durham’s spectacularly lush countryside.

If you do opt for Durham it’s the Anglo-Norman cathedral that will probably top your list, built in the Romanesque style with England's first stone-rib vaulted roof — a sight to behold, even for those not usually moved by architecture. Another highlight is Durham Castle, built in the 11th century, and now updated to accommodate Durham University. The Beamish Open-Air Museum is also worth a visit, a fabulous warts-and-all, living museum portraying industrial life in the north east.

If Beamish appeals, you may find some of the best places to stay in County Durham in nearby Chester-le-Street, which is also known for its regular market days, county cricket ground, and scenic Pennine backdrop. Bishop Auckland is another great choice for sightseers, with its castles, markets, ruins of a Roman fort, and vast open air theatre. Darlington is ideal if you’re hoping to visit the Yorkshire Dales National Park, or the North York Moors National Park.

The Best Places to Stay in County Durham

For a Special Occasion

  • Lumley Castle, which is just outside Chester-le-Street, has the kind of towers, battlements, and crenelations loved by those who illustrate books about King Arthur. And it has interiors to match: think grand, vaulted banqueting halls, flagstone floors, lavish drapes, spiral staircases, thick walls, four-poster beds, and staff in medieval dress. There are 73 rooms and suites, though only some are in the castle. Others are in the converted stables, and there’s a mews of pretty cottages — ideal for families. The largest rooms have four-poster beds or baths theatrically set on a dais behind curtains. The top castle rooms are awash with swags and pelmets, some with bathrooms behind secret doors; huge fun. Food is traditional English with a twist and the dining-room is all you’d want from a castle: stone pillars, vaulted ceiling and soft candles. Don’t miss the proper afternoon teas served in the library. And if your stay coincides with an Elizabethan banquet or murder mystery dinner, well, who knows what might happen...
  • Wynyard Hall Hotel & Spa has been lovingly converted from a Georgian era stately home, surrounded by parkland. Impressive and grand both inside and out, there are only 22 rooms and suites — all vast — plus three cottages, all sleeping six. Plus there's a gourmet restaurant and pampering spa.

For a Country House Escape

  • Rockliffe Hall is a country house hotel converted from a striking red-brick mansion surrounded by acres of parkland. It’s now a 61 room hotel, with a vast spa complex, four restaurants, a championship golf course, tennis courts and a gym, and a chic bar. For kids there’s an adventure playground, fun menus and plenty of space inside and out, including self-catering apartments and houses.
  • Seaham Hall and Serenity Spa is a very grand, Georgian era country house, turned 22 suite hotel, known for its impressive Asian-inspired spa, glorious parklands and delicious culinary options. Everything is spacious and well appointed here, from the super contemporary bathrooms to the gym. Close to the coastline, and about 30 minutes drive from Durham.

For Foodies

  • The Raby Hunt is a two-Michelin-starred restaurant-with-rooms, on the Grade II Listed Raby Estate, in the charming hamlet of Summerhouse. While the restaurant’s building is historic, the interiors, including the dining room and guest rooms, are styled with contemporary flair. The restaurant is very much the main event, operated by a self-taught chef who has an adventurous and original tasting menu, and an incredible set of deserts.

For Historic County Durham

  • Converted from the magnificent redbrick building designed in the Victorian era to be the County Offices, the Hotel Indigo is an impressive sight, inside and out. The spacious interiors hold 83 rooms and suites, plus the vast Marco Pierre White Steakhouse restaurant — which occupies the former council chambers — and a cafe, bar and spa. The decor is striking, and very contemporary compared to the exterior: it's ‘masculine’, with clean lines and bold colours, but not too many frills or flourishes. Ten minutes stroll from Durham cathedral.

For a Countryside Escape

  • Westgate Manor is a converted Victorian manor house just outside Bishop Auckland in the Weardale countryside. There are only four rooms, all spacious and carefully decorated with a collection of lovely antiques that match the period. Our Gurus enjoyed the serene library and the atmospheric dining room restaurant. Ideal for an escape.
  • Clow Beck House is a sprawling stone farmhouse turned 13 room hotel. The views are lovely, overlooking the farmland belonging to the farm’s estate. Inside the decor is unique, varying from room to room, and featuring antique and contemporary pieces, a couple of chandeliers and colourful original artworks. The restaurant serves homemade meals, with quite a lot of the produce sourced as locally as the hotel’s estate. Family friendly and well located for exploring County Durham.
  • The Runa Farm buildings have been converted from a cluster of farm outbuildings, so there’s plenty of variety and privacy, though they all share spectacular views of the Teeside Moors. The largest of the 24 rooms and suites have their own hot tubs, and they all have a Mediterranean vibe, plus extra touches like lovely robes and locally made chocolates. There’s a chic little cocktail bar, just for residents, and the old blacksmith’s workshop has been converted into a stylish restaurant with a menu heavy on local produce and well-cooked pub classics. Romantic, but good for families too — there’s a separate farmhouse which sleeps up to 12. Conveniently located for Barnard Castle.

For Walkers

  • The Morritt Arms is an elegant, Georgian era coaching inn, with a pillared entrance, and a pleasingly symmetrical facade. The 27 rooms and suites are a good mix of traditional and contemporary decor, some with four-posters, others light and airy, with a hint of Scandinavian style. Some of the suites would suit a family. The restaurant has a menu focused on seasonal, local produce, while the bistro serves upscale pub grub. The garage has been converted into a spa. Just ten minutes from the Lake District, and an hour from the Yorkshire Dales. So ideal for walkers.
  • The Lord Crewe Arms is an excellent pub-with-rooms in the picturesque village of Blanchland — which is a fantastic base for walkers. There are 21 rooms and suites, decorated with simple rustic style, a very nice collection of rugs and throws, and a palette to match the landscape. The pub downstairs has a far-better-than-average menu, which is heavy on local produce and game and served in hearty portions. Expect walking maps and tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms, and roaring fires when required.
  • The Rose & Crown is a rather beautiful 18th century coaching-inn, converted into a classic village hostelry, but with stylishly understated decor, award-winning food and drinks — including real ale — and wonderful rural views of wild moorland and the sheep-dotted fields of the North Pennines. We love the welcoming village pub atmosphere, but the inn is adamant that it’s the fantastic food that draws back repeat visitors. Some of the rooms have small patios, and these are the ones the hotel recommends for dogs.

For Romantics

  • The Town House has been converted from an elegant, Grade II Listed, Georgian townhouse in the heart of Durham. It has 11 rooms and suites, all individually designed with luxury and cosseting in mind — expect velvet drapes, damask, chandeliers, gilt, and oil paintings. Some rooms border on opulent, and anyone looking for romance will like the French boudoir style, intimate dining room and cocktail bar, and the outdoor hot tubs. Romantic, and close to everything.
  • Forty Winks is another romantic offering in Durham; a flamboyantly and eccentrically furnished guest house on South Street, with enviable views of the city’s cathedral and castle. The eight rooms and suites range in style, from opulent at one end, through grand, to classically luxurious at the other. The owners bought this to be their home, and furnished it with personal treasures, including a taxidermy giraffe, skeletons, and a stuffed snake in the umbrella stand. An impressive breakfast is cooked to order. Not for minimalist!

For a Country House Hotel

  • Headlam Hall is an elegant but relaxed country house hotel, surrounded by lush grounds that have had a golf course incorporated into them. Accommodation-wise there are 40 rooms and suites, and facilities-wise there’s an expansive spa, tennis courts, a library, plus the bar, a restaurant and bistro, grand piano room and drawing room. The interior decor complements the creeper-clad and pillared exteriors, with large windows, stone-flagged or wooden floors, Chesterfields and tweedy chairs, four-posters and period antiques.

For Families

  • Ramside Hall Hotel is a large, family-friendly, resort-hotel, converted from an impressive country house in beautiful grounds. It’s got 130 rooms and suites and excellent facilities including two championship golf courses, plus a swish Espa spa, impressive leisure centre with indoor and outdoor pools and a choice of three restaurants. The rooms are in a patchwork of styles as well as sizes, with the largest featuring extras like cinema-sized TV screens and free-standing baths.

Best Pubs-with-Rooms

  • Run by award-winning restaurateurs, Darlington’s The Devonport is a carefully renovated and pub with rooms — but one with a very, very highly regarded restaurant. The decor is a contemporary take on the cosy pub, with woollen throws, just the right amount of velvet and a lovely, sage/botanical colour scheme. The bathrooms are large and stylish.
  • The South Causey Inn is a family-run pub-with-rooms in the picturesque Beamish Valley, with 40 uniquely decorated rooms and suites featuring everything from Roman centurion shields, to clocks with smiley faces and multiple bicycles. Some of the suites have hot tubs, and one of them has been converted from a double decker bus. The pub restaurant is known for its classic pub food and Sunday carvery.

For Great Value

  • The Park Head Hotel is a comfortably stylish, 38 room property in the centre of Bishop Auckland. This is a friendly pick, especially if you want in on local insight or advice, with a wonderful restaurant which is also very home grown. Rooms are well designed, and are in a good range shapes and sizes, which includes family-sizes suites. The hotel also has a children’s play area.

Best B&Bs

  • Dowfold House in Crook, is a homely, three room B&B converted from a lovely stone cottage. The rooms are all individually decorated — two featuring double beds and one two singles. It feels very much like a home still, and guests are welcome in the tastefully decorated sitting room and gardens. The breakfast is substantial.

Prefer a Private Apartment or Cottage?

  • If you'd prefer the privacy of a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available online with our partner, Booking.com.

Travel Information

  • If you’re aiming to arrive in County Durham by air you could use Teesside International Airport, which is between Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees, or Newcastle International Airport. If you’re travelling by train via London you’ll need to leave from Kings Cross. Trains take about two and a half hours to get to Darlington, two and three quarters to Stockton-on-Tees, three hours to reach Durham, three and a half to Chester-le-Street,
  • If you want to hire a car we recommend you visit our online partner, Rentalcars.
  • County Durham isn’t known for extreme temperatures, it’s warm, rather than hot in the summer, and cold rather than freezing during the winter. There’s a smattering of rain all year round, but it’s not known for inclement weather. If you’re planning to do a lot outside, then spring and summer are the obvious times to visit, with lighter days, milder temperatures and wildflowers. If you’re planning to do a lot indoors there’s good reasons to visit during autumn and winter too, with a calendar of festivities that packs plenty into the cooler months — including Durham’s Christmas Market.

Still not sure where to stay?


Monthly Weather in County Durham

Best Hotels in County Durham

  • Park Head Hotel Bishop Auckland (County Durham) 38 rooms from £85

    Families  -  As well as family friendly suites, Park Head Hotel has outside space with a children's play area
    Local exploring  -  A good central location for exploring the best of County Durham
    Value chic  -  Simple but smart accommodation at a very inviting price point
    Restaurant  -  The Oak Room Restaurant serves a range of British classics from bangers and mash to delicious steaks

    Situated in Bishop Auckland, Park Head Hotel is a charming new property which offers more than just rooms and sustenance. Here it's all about the community from the locally grown produce to the cheery staff. Rooms are simple and smart and the restaurant serves good old British classics. See More

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  • Headlam Hall Gainford, County Durham 40 rooms from £150

    Great walks  -  Around the four acres of manicured grounds or the property is located between the Yorkshire Dales.
    Tennis  -  There are tennis courts for guests to use.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    TennisSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessParking

    A relaxed country house hotel with a spa, golf and tennis or just chill out with books and newspapers. Rooms are large and uncluttered with a fresh, country style, and there’s a choice of dining options. See More

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  • Dowfold House Crook, County Durham 3 rooms from £70

    Great walks  -  The surrounding countryside is full of excellent walking routes.
    Sights nearby  -  Four miles from Auckland Castle.
    GardenPet friendlyParking

    Homely and cosy, Dowfold House is charming B&B in County Durham. Its three rooms are individually decorated with tasteful furnishings and pleasant artwork. A hearty breakfast will set you up well for a day of exploring the beautiful rural surroundings. See More

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  • The Devonport Darlington 8 rooms from £90

    Foodies  -  Run by local award winning restaurateurs - this is a great choice for sampling contemporary British fare
    Great walks  -  There are a number of walking trails starting straight from the property
    Sights nearby  -  Take a tour of Medieval Raby Castle, located just outside Darlington
    Restaurant  -  Classic pub dishes served with a modern twist
    RestaurantParkingNo pets

    A painstakingly renovated inn offering the perfect British getaway. Individually styled rooms have designer wallpaper, sink into beds, and luxurious contemporary bathrooms. Downstairs, a highly acclaimed pub restaurant serves regional fare. Surrounded by walks - a perfect country escape. See More

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  • Hotel Indigo Durham Durham 83 rooms from £98

    Great walks  -  Go for a lovely walk in Durham Botanical Garden or Crook Hall Gardens.
    Sights nearby  -  Ten minutes walk from the castle and the cathedral.
    Designer  -  Uniquely designed interiors.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantDisabled access

    One of Durham’s newest hotels, Indigo is a contemporary makeover of possibly the city’s finest Victorian civic building, mixing original features from marble staircases to stained-glass windows with funky design elements. There’s also a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and relaxed café. See More

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  • The Town House Durham 11 rooms from £110

    Restaurant  -  Fine dining menu serving traditional classics with locally sourced ingredients.
    Local markets  -  Nearby Durham Market Hall has an impressive spread of local produce.
    Sights nearby  -  Durham Cathedral is just a ten minute walk from the property.
    Private Hot Tub  -  Book Le Jardin room your own terrace with private hot tub.
    Air conditioningRestaurantGardenDisabled accessNo pets

    Set in a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse in the heart of Durham, this hotel has 11 individually designed, luxury bedrooms. Some rooms feature a private terrace or hot tub. The hotel has a vibrant cocktail bar and a traditional restaurant serving steaks and seafood. The perfect romantic getaway. See More

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  • Westgate Manor County Durham 4 rooms from £119

    Sights nearby  -  Take a day trip to Durham and visit the city's magnificent cathedral and castle.
    Great walks  -  Excellent walking routes around the Weardale countryside.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Full of character

    Charming Victorian Manor House nestled in the rolling Weardale countryside. Featuring beautifully appointed rooms, an atmospheric dining room and a lovely library. It's perfect for a weekend of exploring County Durham. See More

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  • Forty Winks Durham 8 rooms from £120

    Sights nearby  -  Ten minutes walk from both Durham Castle and Cathedral.
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    Quirky  -  An experience!
    ParkingNo pets

    Flamboyantly and eccentrically furnished guest house - on South Street with enviable views of the city’s cathedral and castle - that’s both lavish and fun. A choice of romantic or sleek bedrooms, and excellent breakfasts, too. See More

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  • The Morritt Arms Barnard Castle, County Durham 27 rooms from £125

    Sights nearby  -  Bowes Museum, Raby Castle and Egglestone Abbey are all within easy reach.
    Local markets  -  The market town of Barnard Castle is lined with antique shops.
    Great walks  -  The North Pennines are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    SpaRestaurantGardenDisabled accessParking

    A handsome, creeper-covered coaching inn, set back from a main road and surrounded by fields. Some rooms are decorated in dark wood four posters and thick textiles, others are modern, light and airy. All are comfortable. Reviving weary travellers with its excellent restaurant and quirky spa. See More

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  • Lumley Castle Chester-le-Street (County Durham) 73 rooms from £132

    Sights nearby  -  Durham Cathedral and Castle are architecturally impressive and historically interesting.
    Fishing  -  Catch a fish supper in the nearby River Wear.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Full of character
    RestaurantGardenDisabled accessNo pets

    A picture-book castle that oozes atmosphere, from the tower bedrooms to the vaulted dining room. Expect thick walls, lavish decorations, four-poster beds, plus a touch of drama with the costumed staff and evening banquets. See More

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  • Clow Beck House Croft-on-Tees, County Durham 13 rooms from £135

    Back to Nature  -  There are some of Darlington's finest walking routes directly from your front door.
    Great walks  -  The Spa Walk is within easy reach from the hotel.
    Full of character
    RestaurantGardenDisabled accessParking
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide

    Nestled in pretty Darlington this farmhouse is unquestionably unique. A labour of love, the rooms have been described as "theatrical" and include everything from chandeliers to larger than life Audrey Hepburn paintings. Much of the food is homemade with produce from their 100 acres of farmland. See More

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  • South Causey Inn Stanley, County Durham 40 rooms from £143

    Local exploring  -  Located equidistance from Durham and Newcastle – 20 minutes – with their historic sights, galleries, theatres and shopping
    Groups  -  The fun themed rooms with added indulgences such as hot tubs, makes this ideal for hen parties or just a trip with friends
    Private Hot Tub  -  In the Two Storey Hot Tub Houses, Themed Hot Tub Suites, and 1960s Trafalgar Square Bus with Hot Tub
    Great walks  -  Set within 100-acres within the Beamish Valley, there is ample opportunity for long scenic walks
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyParking

    A family-run pub set in the Beamish Valley with completely unique style. Rooms range from cosy and traditional to hot tub suites or even a converted red bus. The locally popular restaurant serves favourites including pizzas, burgers, and a Sunday carvery. A fun choice for families or friends. See More

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  • Ramside Hall Hotel County Durham 130 rooms from £153

    Sights nearby  -  There is a daily shuttle service into Durham town where you can explore its sights.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessParking

    A large, family-friendly, resort-hotel with a swanky spa and fitness area, championship golf courses and a choice of dining areas to suit all pockets. Bedrooms are generous; the newest ones with a hint of bling. Scrumptious meals can be enjoyed in your choice of restaurants. See More

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  • Runa Farm Durham, County Durham 24 rooms from £165

    Romantic Break  -  Enjoy cosy evenings in the atmospheric restaurant and book one of the rooms with a private hot tub for a romantic stay
    Groups  -  A separate farmhouse sleeps up to 12; good for family get-togethers or bridal parties
    Weddings  -  The hotel has a self-contained wedding venue in an adjacent barn
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the 12 th -century Barnard Castle and nearby Raby Castle (still lived-in)
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyParking

    A Mediterranean-inspired group of farm buildings, surrounded by fields and with views to the moors of Teesdale. Bedrooms have an Ibizan vibe with added luxuries such as hot tubs in the largest rooms. Expect generous comfort food in the restaurant and good cocktails in the bar. A trendy rural stay. See More

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  • The Rose & Crown County Durham 12 rooms from £168

    Foodies  -  The inn's 2 AA Rosette award winning restaurant will indulge foodies and fuel ramblers
    Country Escape  -  Pack your walking boots - there are some great rambles direct from your door
    Great walks  -  Surrounded by walking and bridle paths, and beautiful countryside
    Sights nearby  -  Right next door to Romaldkirk's impressive Saxon Church
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays, Good Hotel Guide

    A smart, 18th century former coaching inn that has lost none of the essentials of a good village hostelry: a warm welcome extended to dogs too, award winning good food, real ales, comfortable surrounds and quietly stylish bedrooms. All the creature comforts plus splendid walks on your doorstep. See More

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  • Wynyard Hall Hotel & Spa Tees Valley, County Durham 22 rooms from £195

    Country Escape  -  Feel like Lord and Lady of the manor for a weekend in this grandiose country house
    Spa breaks  -  Indulgent and bespoke treatments make this a top spa break
    Great walks  -  A walk amongst the manicured gardens
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    SpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    A Georgian stately home, with everything on a grand scale, and surrounded by parkland, this is a place to indulge with woodland walks, tea on the terrace and a wallow in the spa’s hot tub. Charming rooms are decorated with floral prints are effortlessly elegant. A gourmet restaurant, too. See More

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  • Rockliffe Hall Darlington, County Durham 61 rooms from £265

    Foodies  -  3 restaurants, including the flagship 3AA rosette Orangery restaurant, set in the charming 18th century Old Hall
    Country Escape  -  Luxury estate in rural County Durham
    Spa breaks  -  Large well-equipped spa and gym
    Great walks  -  Surrounding area offers a plethora of places to visit, from the Yorkshire Dales to Durham Cathedral
    Air conditioningTennisSpaRestaurantGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessViewsParking
    Recommended by  -  Small Luxury Hotels

    Wrapped in parkland, yet easily accessible, this relaxing country house hotel does everything on a big scale, from the size of the bedrooms and spa, to the number of eating options and the warmth of the staff. Plenty of activities too - championship golf, fishing, tennis, swimming. See More

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  • Seaham Hall and Serenity Spa County Durham 20 rooms from £305

    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor Pool
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    SpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessParking
    Recommended by  -  Kiwi Collection

    With a modern sense of glamour, this Georgian country house knows how to spoil, from the super-large suites to the Asian-inspired spa. Plus there's parkland to wander and a choice of eating options. Receive the celebrity treatments in large suites and modern bathrooms. A stylish stay. See More

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