Durham, North Carolina


Photo: The Durham
Photo: The Durham

Heading to Durham? The Blue Devils aren’t the only reason to visit this North Carolina city anymore. Artists are flocking to the downtown area. Award-winning chefs are blending seasonal ingredients, Southern traditions, and modern techniques. They’re opening restaurants in old factories and mills. Shops and hotels are following suit. In one of these hotels, you quickly find your new home away from home in the Bull City.

The Durham Hotel recently opened in the heart of downtown. The building was once a bank, and the boutique hotel embraced its mid-century design. Color-blocked carpets, sleek furniture, and employees with a hipster vibe greet you in the lobby. A farmers’ market breakfast is served here each morning. The coffee shop cold brews iced coffee from Counter Culture Coffee. Plus music from Merge Records, a local independent label, provides the soundtrack.

Upstairs, the rooms are both modern and inviting. Your deluxe king suite has floor-to-ceiling windows, a pillow-topped king bed, a custom wood desk, and original artwork. But those things are pretty standard by now. It’s the extras—including a handmade blanket from Raleigh Denim, a Bluetooth charging station, and a Japanese Hinoki stool in the walk-in shower—that get you excited. Don’t forget the local, artisanal mini bar, which is stocked with goodies like nut butter bars from Big Spoon Roasters.

Photo: The Durham
Photo: The Durham

You’re tempted to eat an apricot pepita nut butter bar, but decide to venture up to the hotel’s rooftop instead. The Roof has panoramic views of the quickly changing city, as well as a bar and both covered and open-air seating. Since it’s still in the mid-60s (in December!) and you’re wearing a sweater, you opt for an outdoor seat. The cocktail menu lists interesting ingredients, like extra virgin olive oil and honey. You ultimately order the signature drink, The Durham, which blends Cognac, rum, and a 10-year Tawny port. When you see oysters from the raw bar being delivered to a nearby table, you request a half-dozen as well.

Though it’s about time you start exploring the city, you’ll return to The Durham for dinner by the restaurant’s James Beard award-winning chef and perhaps another cocktail on The Roof. You’ll borrow a bike to ride out to the Durham Farmers’ Market. You’ll join the vinyasa yoga class back on the rooftop in the morning. Then you’ll cheer against those Blue Devils at the Cameron Indoor Stadium. You are just visiting Durham after all.

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