“ Address: Station Lane / Gilesgate / Durham / Co. Durham DH1 1LJ / England „
Even though I live in Durham, when my new windows were being put in my house was a complete tip! Given that fact, I decided to book into the Travel Lodge until everything was finished.
The hotel is in a very handy location, just 5 minutes walk from the centre of the city. It has a small car park to the front which it shares with the adjoining restaurant Che Vita. There is an overflow car park a few minutes walk away.
When we first went it we were greeted by the receptionist who showed us to our room. Now the thing about Travel Lodge rooms is they all look the same! Personally I don't see this as a bad thing, at least you have a fair idea of what you're going to get when you book.
The room and en suite bathroom were both very clean and tidy and although the room itself was pretty basic, the bathroom was lovely and modern. Apart from the usual toilet and sink there was also a bath with a shower overhead. I love baths but my husband loves showers so there was something to suit both of our tastes.
Travel Lodge do not provide any toiletries, so you have to remember to bring your own, although they do sell miniature sized bottles from vending machines. I found these were on the pricy side, so better to bring your own! Also it's worth remembering that they don't provide a hairdryer or iron in each room either, although we asked at reception and they do have some that they can lend out on a first come first served basis.
As previously mentioned, there is an Italian restaurant adjoining to the Travel Lodge building called Che Vita. This used to be my favourite place in Durham to eat, but recently it changed hands and I have heard bad things about the food so haven't ventured in, although the reviews on Trip Advisor are less than favourable. I did try to post a link, but dooyoo wouldn't let me as it was over 80 characters.
If I were staying there now, I'd instead walk the 5 minutes into the city centre where there are lots of good places to eat. My personal favourite is The Court Inn. It's a little tricky to find and is slightly farther away, but the food is gorgeous! If you like good, homecooked meals with proper chips and lashings of gravy, this is the place to go! It is located next to Durham Courts, near Durham Student Union.
So, I would heartily recommend the Travel Lodge, it was clean, the staff were friendly and it's in an excellent location. It's literally 5 minutes off the motorway and would be an excellent, cheap base for exploring Durham and the surrounding area.
We paid around £50 a night, but Travel lodge often have deals on where rooms can cost as little as £29 or even £9 a night, so always check their website if you're planning a trip anywhere.
I've stayed in Travelodges all over the UK and if nothing else, at least you know what you're getting. My boyfriend and I booked a room recently for one night as we were visiting old uni friends up in Durham, and needed somewhere cheap (after spending loads on our train tickets from London!) so the Travelodge seemed as good as anywhere.
I booked a room through Expedia as I'm signed up to a website that offers cashback on Expedia transactions, but in the past I've booked directly through the Travelodge website and found it extremely user-friendly and easy to navigate. At times recently they've offered a limited number of rooms at prices as low as £19 and £29 which is a real bargain! However in this case, probably with it being a Saturday night and also a 'prime' tourist city spot, we paid the standard rate of £55 for the room. I was happy with this and doubt we could have found anywhere cheaper in the city.
The hotel is situated on the outskirts of the city near the Gilesgate roundabout, so it's about a 15 min walk from the centre; however Durham is such a compact city that it doen't take long to walk anywhere. Taxis are also very cheap so the £5 it cost us to get back at the end of the night still meant our total spend of £60 was much less than staying anywhere nearer.
The hotel is split into two buildings, including a newer annexe, which is where our room was. It was an extra few minutes' walk from Reception but nothing to complain about. The receptionist was very friendly and quickly found our booking and directed us to our room.
On entering, we had the kind of deja-vu experience that anyone who's stayed in a Travelodge will know! The room was quite simple, verging on sparse, but there was a large double bed and plenty of floor space for all our stuff. The room was pristine, very clean and tidy, and the bathroom was immaculately clean too. We had a bath with a shower over, which was the most lovely powerful shower I've ever had, even in a hotel!
The room also had a small TV, tea and coffee things, and not much else! I took my own hairdryer which was just as well as one was not provided. I should also remind readers that they do not provide toiletries, apart from a small bar of soap. Take your own shower gel and shampoo!
The bed itself was very comfy, and was at least a large double, possibly a king size. There were spare pillows in the wardrobe too.
All in all, I was very impressed. Even among Travelodges, this one stood out. It was generally very well-maintained, clean and pleasant. The shower was a highlight!
Travelodges are one of those ubiquitous things. Everywhere you go has them, and you know they will offer a certain, basic level of comfort without ever being anything special. Having said that, I was rather surprised when I stayed a couple of nights in the Travelodge in Durham.
Booking online was relatively straightforward - a simple case of going to the Travelodge website, typing in the town or city and choosing the dates of the stay. If you're not already registered, you have to create an account, but the whole thing only takes around 5 minutes in total. In common with many hotel chains, they do levy a surcharge of £1.50 if you pay by credit card, which I always find very annoying. However, since the alternative is to use their tortuous telephone booking system which takes about 15 times longer and takes your sanity to breaking point, I swallowed my principles and accepted the charge.
Although it's located reasonably close to the centre of Durham, the hotel itself is pleasingly easy to get to, sitting as it does, just on the outskirts. If you come in on the A1(M), it's virtually impossible to miss, so you don't have to drive around confusing city streets for hours looking for it. Located as it is on the very edges of the city, you get the best of both worlds: you don't get caught up in the city centre traffic too much, but are close enough that you are just 5 minutes walk away from the shops. Location is certainly one of the strongest features of Durham's Travelodge, and one of the reasons why you pay so much for the room you get.
Arriving at the Travelodge is a bit of a strange experience. We pulled into the main car park and unloaded the car and began to make our way across to the reception area round the side of the building. On the way, I noticed a small sign which read "Call in at reception before you unpack your car, in case you wish to move your car later." We were slightly mystified by this, but since we had already unpacked our luggage decided to proceed to reception anyway. This turned out to be a mistake. The Travelodge actually has an annex building with its own car park, a couple of minutes walk away. If you're in the annex, the chances are you'll want to move your car - hence the sign. We had to traipse all our luggage back, repack the car and move to the other car park. Having just completed a 4 hour drive, this was the last thing we needed. True, there were a number of signs - but none on the side of the car park we parked in, so by the time we realised, it was too late. More, and better placed signs are definitely needed.
(I've just noticed on the website, that they now have a message stating that the hotel is in two buildings and advising guests to check in before unloading. This wasn't there when we booked, so clearly they have had a number of comments about this!)
The checking-in process itself was fairly straightforward, since we had already paid for the room on the website. It just took us a couple of minutes, with relatively little fuss and thankfully, no forms to fill in. The checkout time is also a fairly generous 12 noon, so you don't have to rush to vacate your room on the day you leave.
In terms of the room itself, basic would be one word which could be applied. Sparse would be another. There was a double bed (with the usual wafer thin pillows), a desk with a single plastic bucket chair, a small TV perched on the desk and that was it. The TV was very basic - a small cathode ray (not LCD) model that took up quite a bit of the desk space, main terrestrial TV only (bar a couple of minor, uninteresting digital ones) and no teletext. There weren't even any comfortable chairs to relax in - the only option was to perch or lie on the bed. The sole wardrobe/cupboard space was a single set of shelves and an open wardrobe near the door. This didn't really give you a lot of space in which to hang your clothes. There were no drawers or any other kind of furniture you could use to put things or sit on. Everything was in a very dull pine/wood colour and the whole thing looked like it had been thrown together by MFI on a particularly bad Friday afternoon. There was a kettle and basic coffee and tea supplies, but no biscuits. I know that part of the trade-off of using somewhere like a Travelodge is that it's cheap and cheerful, but considering we were paying £55 per night for the room only (no breakfast or other meals included), I was astounded at how bare the room was. This, combined with the identikit corridors makes for a very soul-less stay. The longer you are there, the more you can feel your will to live being sapped.
Just off the main room was the bathroom, which was equally sparse and provided a couple of further niggles. We had been warned at the time of booking that the usual complementary shower gel, shampoo, soap etc. was not provided, so this wasn't really a problem as we knew to take our own. Towels were provided, but that was pretty much all you got for your money. Even other hotel staples like hair driers were not available (although apparently, you could get one from reception if needed)
There were a couple of problems with the bathroom itself too. The sink wasn't terribly good at holding water - even with the plug in, the water slowly seeped out, which meant you had to a) wash very quickly, b) run in more water than you really needed, on the grounds that you would lose some of it, or c) keep topping it up. We even discovered later that our bath didn't have a plug! This was a real nuisance, because we had to traipse out of the annex building, and across to reception in the main building Whilst the problem was sorted quickly (although they did have to give us the plug from the staff kitchen!), it's the sort of thing which should have been noticed and rectified before we went into the room.
The taps in the bath were equally strange and caused me some confusion. When I started to run the bath, I naively assumed that the right hand tap was for cold water and the left hand for hot. Wrong! After some experimentation, I discovered the hard way that Travelodge taps don't conform to the rest of the known world. Instead, the right hand tap controls the temperature (up for cold water, down for hot), whilst the left hand one controls the flow of water and the shower. So, assuming the left hand tap was for the hot water, I turned it down... and got a very wet head because that actually turned the shower on. Still, the sight of me emerging from the bathroom, soaking wet to report the results of my not-so-scientific experiment gave Mrs SWSt a good giggle! Sadly, I didn't learn from this experience and repeated my dowsing on several occasions during my stay!
Staying at the Durham Travelodge is definitely a strange experience. In order to (supposedly) save on the costs, they skimp on virtually every aspect of the room - from basic furnishings through to the little extras that make staying in a hotel a more interesting experience. You really would not want to use it for anything more than somewhere to sleep at night whilst you used it as a base to explore Durham. Its chief strength is the fact that it is so central, less than 5 minutes walk away from the City Centre. To be honest though, it wasn't particularly cheap and its facilities were so basic that if I ever needed another hotel in Durham, I'd be prepared to pay a little bit more for a room which offered more for your money.
One that is most definitely best suited to business travellers who just need somewhere to stay for the night, or those on a really tight budget who don't care about anything above basic comfort levels.
Tel: 0871 984 6136
© Copyright SWSt 2008