September 29th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
The historic city of Durham is famous for its cathedral, castle and picture-perfect setting by the River Wear, not to mention its first-class university, which attracts students by the hordes. And the good news is that where there are students, there is typically a plethora of bars, restaurants and other activities all awaiting us visiting hens!
A charming destination steeped in heritage, with glorious bridges and cobbled streets, Durham certainly offers hens something more quaint and compact than the much larger neighbouring cities of Newcastle to the north or York to the south.
The city is also the perfect base for hens keen to get out into the Durham countryside and enjoy something altogether more relaxing. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some of this fabulous location’s best bits, guaranteed to make your hen weekend one to remember…
Durham is an affordable destination with a variety of options when it comes to overnight accommodation. You have stylish hotel staples in the heart of the city, such as Radisson Blu and the Marriott Hotel Royal County, and on the cheap and cheerful end of the scale, look out for the likes of Travelodge or Premier Inn.
Want to venture out of Durham for a slice of luxury? Look no further than Ramside Hall, a swish four-star hotel on the outskirts of the city set in 350 acres of stunning grounds, complete with an uber-modern spa and Fusion Restaurant.
A river cruise on the Prince Bishop is the perfect way to soak up the city’s beautiful landmarks and serene surroundings. This tranquil escapade along the Wear lasts a full hour and includes a live commentary, with a sun deck and bar onboard to boot. Alternatively, explore the river at your leisure and hire your very own traditional rowing boats from Browns Boats – just make sure none of your hens drop their oars!
If sublime pampering is more of a squad goal for the weekend, the city is close to a number of fabulous spas including our earlier top accommodation pick, Ramside Hall. This is the ultimate spa resort, with a thermal suite and five pools – including a stunning, Insta-worthy infinity pool.
Is a live performance your vice? Then make a date with the Gala Theatre, which plays host to everything from music and dance to comedy and opera. The perfect outing to kick-start your weekend celebrations and switch things up from the usual bar crawl.
One of the best things about Durham city is the ease with which you can escape into the countryside and explore some fantastic historical sites. Finchale Priory – situated on the banks of the River Wear in a captivating wooded setting – is just one of these and it’s our top choice for a girly picnic with a view.
The lively Walkergate complex boasts a cluster of stylish bars, ideal for socialising al fresco in the summer months, come day or night. Champagne Bar by Ebony is a chic destination if you’re after a glass of vintage bubbly or two, meanwhile My House Bar and Kitchen is the place to go to experience some rather eclectic cocktails – look out for its candy cupboard selection featuring the candy floss martini, sherbet melon and tutti frutti daiquiri. Missoula is another favourite – a fashionable bar playing a winning mix of pop, RnB and dance music, with not one but two outdoors terraces. And when it comes to partying the night away – head to popular nightclub Loveshack.
Away from the Walkergate area, you might also want to check out The Head of Steam for its buzzy atmosphere, the Whisky River Bar overlooking, yes you’ve guessed it, the river; or next door – The Boat Club, with panoramic views over the medieval Elvet Bridge.
Dining-wise, you’ll find a variety of cuisines catered for too – highlights include the swanky Zen Asian Fusion with its authentic street and market inspired Thai dishes, perennial favourite La Tasca for a spot of tapas and sangria, and Bella Mamma, sure to appease your pasta and pizza cravings. A fine dining experience, meanwhile, comes courtesy of the contemporary Restaurant DH1, think delicacies such as roe deer, salt aged beef, ox tongue and sardines on toast and you’ll get an idea of what to expect from its tasting menus.
So ladies, don’t be fooled by this unassuming city. Durham might be small, but it’s brimming with charm and iconic landmarks, and has lots to offer hens seeking something a little bit different from the bright lights and hullabaloo of the bigger cities in the north. Hopefully, our guide will have given you a tiny glimpse into the possibilities for your impending celebrations!
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Originally from north of the border, Alexis has lived in the North East for the past 15 years and considers herself officially an adopted Geordie. A qualified journalist - Alexis took up the position of editor at the region’s longest running business publication in 2015 before moving into a marketing role for one of the UK’s largest independent arts and craft galleries. Alexis currently edits her own lifestyle blog, where you can find her latest musings on all things Newcastle-related, together with a smattering of her Instagram-worthy cocktail and foodie pics. Yet to find Mr Right herself, Alexis sees this as a mere formality when it comes to tying the knot, as she’s already picked out her dream wedding dress, theme and venue...
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