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Don't pull the cord in the bathroom!
Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County (Durham)
Member Name: catsholiday
Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County (Durham)
Date: 31/07/10, updated on 27/10/11 (61 review reads)
Advantages: Convenient location and beautuful building
Disadvantages: luke warm water for bath and average food
Durham Marriot Hotel Royal County
Old Elvert, Durham DH1 3JN
A BIT OF SCENE SETTING:
This hotel is part of the Marriott chain but is an old hotel which was once the home of Elizabeth Bowes an ancestor of the Queen Mother. Apparently it was often visited when it was privately owned by Edward VII when he was up in Durham. It has had quite a large series of extensions and now boasts 150 bedrooms, some of which are suites and family rooms all and have en suite bathrooms ( As you might expect in a hotel I would have thought). This is a four star hotel right in the centre of Durham so perfect for a city break as you can park your car in the hotel (complimentary) car park and walk round the city which is very compact and just a hop over the road from the hotel.
We booked on the internet and got a special deal for two night's bed and breakfast and one evening meal for the £215 which I didn't think was too bad. I had looked at a number of other hotels, some were only slightly cheaper but were way out of town and others looked less attractive in the type of accommodation offered. I am not keen on B&B type accommodation as you are not quite as free to come and go - I enjoy the privacy of a hotel room. I also looked into accommodation in some of the University colleges but the thought of having to pad down the corridor to a shared bathroom in the middle of the night did not appeal so this is the hotel we chose.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE HOTEL:
As you approach the hotel you enter the car park through an arch way and then the reception area is obvious. There is no entrance that we found from the road - this rather odd car park entrance seems to be the only one. Once you are in the reception area it is very pleasantly decorated in muted colours and the reception desk is large allowing for more than one customer to be dealt with at a time. Check in was extremely easy and they made an effort to ensure my friend, who booked after us was put in a room on the same floor without us having to ask which I thought was a nice touch.
All the public areas around the reception area were open and furnished with quality sofas and chairs in small groups in toning colours. The bar in size was quite large but had several areas with tables so that you didn't feel you were too closely packed together. There was a grand piano but at the time we were there no-one was playing and in fact there was no memorable background music at all. The chairs were comfortable chairs not hard wooden things so we were able sit and enjoy a relaxing drink in pleasant comfortable surroundings prior to our meal.
The hotel has two dining rooms the County Restaurant which is more formal with a la carte and a daily table d'hôte menu while the Cruz Brasserie offers a more casual eating experience also serves the buffet breakfast.
THE COUNTY RESTAURANT:
The tables are well spaced so that you have plenty of privacy but this also meant that I felt the place lacked a bit of atmosphere as we were eating in the middle of an almost empty room. The tables were set with dark monogrammed plates which were removed once we ordered our food. There was quite a wide choice on the menu and with our included dinner most things were included but one or two had a surcharge.
My choice of starter would have been the scallops but that had a £.50 surcharge so I had a buffalo mozzarella salad instead, my husband choose air smoked ham with salad and my friend chose cauliflower soup. All the dishes were nicely presented and were fresh but they just lacked that extra pizzaz we felt. I had a small piece of buffalo mozzarella with a small pile of rocket, three cherry tomatoes then about four slices of tomato as well - fresh but very plain, as was my husband's.
Main courses - there were about seven choices but we were told that the lamb was not available that night so we were down to about six. There were two vegetarian choices one was a tart and u really didn't want anything too stodgy. The monkfish would have been my first choice but that had a £2.50 surcharge so both my husband I went for rump steak - we had to pay £1.50 extra for béarnaise or pepper sauce which I felt should have been included. We had steak, a pile of about eight chunky chips and small very tasty button mushrooms - plus the sauce in a bowl as an extra. The steak was quite hard work, the sauce was okay, and the chips were cold but the mushrooms delicious. Fortunately we were not that hungry and were only going for the three courses as they were part of our package. Mt friend opted for a second starter of fish and chips which looked quite nice. If we had wanted vegetables they were extra and had to be ordered as sides.
Desserts there were about seven choices but I have a favourite and if Crème Brulee is on the menu I look no further so I can't remember any other choices. The Crème Brulee was very good, in fact the best partof the meal.
We had to wait to be seated for breakfast and then a waitress came to ask whether we wanted tea or coffee after this it was a self serve buffet. Each table was nicely laid with cutlery, a napkins and a small selection of posh jams and marmalades, salt, pepper and sugar and milk in jug. In the buffet there was a choice of about half a dozen prepared fruits and also fresh whole fruit was available as well as fruit juices. Sealed individual pots of yogurt and a bowl of natural yogurt as well as a number of different cereals were also offered, and then there were also muffins, Danish pastries, rolls and toast. A selection of cold meats, smoked salmon and cheese was another selection and then the full cooked choices from various eggs, tomatoes, sausages, bacon also could be enjoyed by those with healthy appetites. My husband judges hotels by their breakfasts and he was quite impressed with this one though the meal the night before had been a disappointment.
To get to the rooms there was one small rather noisy lift so you would not want to arrive in a large party. There were also stairs which we used as we were only on the third floor and the lift was so slow. The corridors had fresh green carpets and were nice and clean looking.
Our room was large and open with an enormous king sized bed and a huge pile of pillows and cushions on the bed. It was decorated in sage and lime greens which I thought was quite attractive. There was a large sofa and another comfortable chair so we were able to sit and enjoy a read and a cup of tea without having to sit on the bed . A desk , a wardrobe and a couple of other units with drawers and a cupboard with tea making facilities also furnished the room and finally we had a satellite TV plus pay movies if we had wanted but at £7.50 per showing we didn't bother.
High speed internet access in all rooms but at a price which I believe was £15 for 24 hours which I consider a rip off as it would cost the hotel nothing to allow wifi to be included in the rooms with a pass code. This is a personal bugbear of mine as it is often free in much poorer countries and I only seem to be charged with hotels in places like UK or Australia, some places charged in the States whilst it was free in many hotels.
The bathroom was wonderful, large and decorated in white (floor tiles, bath etc), grey (wall tiles) and black marble (sink surrounds). We had two sinks, a separate shower and a bath with shower over. The toilet had a disabled access rail beside it and there were handles on either side of the bath. An interesting red string hung inside the bathroom which my husband decided might be the water heater ( as the water coming out of the taps was not really very hot); it wasn't we discovered as there was a knock on the door with a little man asking if we had pulled the red cord. I confessed that yes we had, he then explained that this sets an alarm off down in reception so could we please press the reset button. How embarrassing especially as I had to hastily wrap a towel round me to receive this information as my husband was ensconced in the bathroom. The hot water was warm enough for a shower but not for a bath and I had to boil three kettles to add to my bath to make it warm enough!
The toiletries offered were shampoo, shower gel and body lotion and soap all of which were based on aromatherapy ingredients and smelled of lemon grass which was pleasant and subtle like lemon geranium in the shampoo but the shower gel was a bit potent more like a lemon bath cleaner. The soaps were nice subtle lemon smelling too.
The hotel has complimentary (unlike the expensive internet) indoor heated pool, spa bath, sauna, steam room, plunge pool, sanarium ( steam and sauna combined according to google) and fitness room. I can't comment on these facilities as we were too busy walking around Durham to enjoy these.
Seven meeting rooms which hold up to 120 delegates are available and all are air conditioned and have natural daylight according to the blurb in their leaflet.
Good points- huge comfortable beds in nice airy rooms, convenient to the city on foot, free car parking, pleasant places to sit in public areas, good break fasts, staff friendly and helpful.Lovely historic building.
Bad points - food very average in County Restaurant, hot water not really hot enough in bath rooms, lift very small and very ancient
Would I recommend staying here? Yes I think it was very comfortable and certainly convenient for exploring Durham city. The food in the restaurant was disappointing and i would have been annoyed to have paid full price but as part of the package it was okay but it was nothing to get excited about but having said that we didn't see any other more interesting places to eat while we were walking around Durham anyway. It is the little things that let it down, like luke warm water in the bathrooms, very ancient tiny lift and average food in their signature restaurant. The rooms were lovely, the public areas very comfortable and the staff were also very pleasant.
This review may be posted on other sites under my same name.
Summary: Could do better