A reconnaissance mission takes Michael Grahamslaw to the Cathedral City.
At least a few points each year, I get an inkling to visit Durham. This usually co-insides with the warmer weather when the sleepy university city wakes up to welcome daytime revellers to its sun-scorched cobbled lanes and riverbank hostelries.
In recent years, it has taken on even greater significance with my Daughter Holly studying there for university degree and set to graduate later this year. With this in mind, we checked in to Hotel Indigo Durham in the city’s historic Old Elvet quarter with one eye on staying and dining there for the post-event celebrations.
Since opening in 2018 in the city’s magnificent red-brick Old Shire Hall building, the hotel has moved from strength to strength combining the world class facilities of a large-chain hotel with boutique-esque style and attention to detail.
The hotel boasts 81 individually designed bedrooms, each taking inspiration from Durham Cathedral and University. In addition, the hotel also features the celebrity endorsed, showstopping Marco Pierre White steakhouse which offers sumptuous steaks amidst the grandeur of Durham Council’s old senate chamber.
We were met with the cheeriest of welcomes and with ample on-site parking, we were able to ditch the car before sampling all the Cathedral City has to offer. Before setting off, we visited the lovely in-house Tinderbox coffee shop which is ideal for a meeting and was palpably buzzing when we arrived. Set in the hotel’s lobby, this stylish space is great for members of the local community to get together, enjoy free Wifi and try out a varied range of freshly brewed coffee. This really started our engines and readied us for the retail therapy which ensued. We enjoyed a good couple of hours round the shops and clocked in well over the obligatory daily 10,000 steps.
After a quick change in our tastefully-appointed guest room, we kicked off with a couple of looseners in the mood lighting of the hotel’s Rotunda Bar before heading in to the muchvaunted MPW bar & grill.
Following their unfortunate demise in the 70’s, there’s been a notable resurgence in steakhouses in recent times and Hotel Indigo obviously have their finger on the nation’s culinary pulse by including such a prestigious one in-house. This sleek and sexy celebrity steakhouse takes gastronomy to a new level.
Marco Pierre White restaurants aim to be all about the experience; the buzz, the atmosphere and engaging the company of friends and family in sumptuous, comfortable surroundings. Well, they certainly proved the point very well indeed as we were shown to a highly prized corner booth.
Lisa kicked off with ‘The Governor’s’ French onion soup, following up with the similarly gallic roast chicken a la forestiere with woodland mushrooms, fondant potato and Madeira roasting juices. I meanwhile reverted to type, pairing the classic prawn cocktail a la russe with the posh ‘surf n turf’ fillet steak with garlic king prawns, bernaise sauce and toasted sourdough. Naturally this was accompanied by a most agreeable bottle of pinot noir. Just for review purposes though, you must understand! The following morning, I sweated out some of the excess with an hour’s session in the on-site, stateof-the-art fitness suite before setting off after our freshly cooked Full English breakfast. With deluxe accommodation, business facilities and destination restaurant-standard dining, Hotel Indigo would appear to tick all the boxes for Holly’s graduation.
Round Two in July is set to be a corker. Howay the Grads !!