Castle View Guest House
At the end of quiet cobbled side lane, this 18th-century guesthouse occupies a peaceful spot with direct views across the Wear to the castle, and easy access to riverside paths. Rooms were refurbished in 2022 and are modern, uncluttered, spotless and neutrally decorated. Expect to pay £120 for a double or twin room.
A night in Durham Castle, dating to the reign of William the Conqueror, is an experience hard to match in the city. The Keep was largely rebuilt in 1840 around the time it transferred into the hands of the university from the prince bishops of Durham and most of the rooms date to this period with the exception of two luxurious medieval state rooms (available throughout the year). Castle rooms house students during term time and are only available to visitors during university holidays (Dec, Easter, Jul, Aug & Sep) on a B&B basis. Watch out for the steps from street level if staying in the Keep – all one hundred of them.
Choose between a standard room (with a shared bathroom) for around £85 or £115 for en-suite doubles. Deduct in the region of £20 for single occupancy. All rooms come with basic facilities (towels, a kettle and free WiFi) and furnishings and, though hardly plush, the location in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Palace Green and facing Durham Cathedral could not be more outstanding. A buffet-style breakfast is provided in the medieval Great Hall, and a complimentary tour of the castle is thrown in with all stays. Evening meals are not available but there are plenty of restaurants, cafés and bars within minutes of the castle. Note, there is no on-site parking (drop off only).
Forty Winks Guesthouse
40 South Street
It’s hard to find a more appealing place to stay in Durham than on this quiet cobbled lane above the Wear where almost every house is listed for its historic value. The cathedral, facing the guesthouse from across the water, is around a five-minute walk away and reached by following the riverside path. A number of the eight rooms, costing upwards of £130 a night, boast cathedral views (including from the Gala Room’s rolltop bathtub) and they all are sumptuous and individually styled: heavy curtains, designer wallpapers, chandeliers and Versailles detailing here and there. Woodland suites are more neutrally decorated and lower in price. Opulence permeates throughout the Victorian house including in the dining room with its ornate Victorian fireplace and plush furnishings.
One of the oldest Durham colleges, Hatfield opens its student rooms to visitors looking for inexpensive B&B accommodation in the city during the summer holidays (Jul, Aug & Sep only). Situated down a side lane from the cathedral, there are few places to stay as centrally located as this, but the rooms in one of three buildings are what you might call ‘functional’ – in other words, plain student digs with basic furnishings – for which you should expect to pay around £60 for single en-suites and £90 for doubles including a decent buffet breakfast in the college’s Georgian dining room.
86 Hallgarth Street
A proper, old-fashioned Durham pub (open coal fires, wood-panelled interior, friendly chit chat over a pint of real ale and no blaring music) with six modern en-suites upstairs (some only have baths). Nothing fancy, just decent, mid-range rooms a five-minute walk from the historic centre of Durham via Kingsgate footbridge. No breakfasts, hence the slightly lower than average prices for rooms at between £80–£125. Dog friendly.
Vale of Durham
A hidden gem in the Browney Valley and wonderful country getaway within easy reach of Durham city, this elegant Georgian country house is surrounded by gardens and woodlands and even has its own private stretch of river. The grounds are wonderfully peaceful, and guests have use of the lawns and a good few hundred acres of land to explore on foot – as well as a lounge to relax in. Rooms are generously proportioned with period features including open fireplaces and tall sash windows, solid wood furniture, the odd antique and original artwork, and quality furnishings – all of it in keeping with the building’s age. Together, the rooms feel more sumptuous than your average upmarket B&B, but the prices are pleasingly not, with B&B rates at £130 per night for doubles. And then there’s the locally sourced food for breakfast, some of which is homegrown (and reared!).
Full of enthusiasm for their local food suppliers and array of breakfast items (including North East kippers, home-made jams, Durham apple juice and, regional favourite, Rington’s tea and coffee) this detached Victorian guesthouse (built in 1860 for a mine owner) with three ensuites, a sitting room, conservatory and outside space for games, is well positioned on the edge of the Pennine hills and within easy reach of Bishop Auckland and the Kynren outdoor summer shows (ten minutes down the road) and Durham city (20-minute drive away). Despite the hillside setting, it’s not remote and so you’ll find places to eat and drink close by as well as one stand-out pub and restaurant, the Copper Mine. Bedrooms overlook farmland and paddocks above the town of Crook and offer views of the not-too-distant Pennines. Bedrooms are pleasantly furnished in a country style with solid furniture and some antiques to reflect the heritage of the building. Expect to pay £120 for doubles a night. Dogs accepted.
The Old Post Office
This is a great mid-range B&B with large, well-kept rooms (homely, not boutique) and the food and service is of a high standard with a few pleasing extras like bath robes and homemade biscuits in your room. Many breakfast ingredients are sourced from the surrounding area (with a great local butcher close by and hens laying eggs in the garden, why wouldn’t you?) and children are welcome to play on the lawn (toys provided) and feed the hens. Location wise, bustling Lanchester is a great choice for anyone visiting Durham city or Beamish Museum, both of which are a short drive away. Prices are very reasonable too, upwards of £85 a night for doubles. One suite can be made into a family room.
The Pickled Parson
So the rooms are not spacious (with the exception of numbers one and nine), but the neutral décor, wood-panelling and modern furnishings are stylish in a minimalist way and smarter than your average independent B&B and cost between £80 and £100 a night. There’s a decent restaurant and bar downstairs (closed on Monday and Tuesday; see print edition for my food review). Overall, a good choice for an overnight stay if visiting the area or pausing on your travels in the North East (the main A1 north-south route runs close to the town).
The Saxon Inn
There are smarter B&Bs in and around Bishop Auckland, but I reviewed the simple rooms in this old inn (restaurant and pub downstairs) because they are good value (between £60 and £80 for doubles; single occupancy rates), clean and the staff were welcoming. It also faces historic Escomb Church and is a short stroll to the wooded banks of the Wear where the Weardale Way long-distance path traces the river for many miles (follow the trail east and you’ll be in Bishop Auckland a couple of miles later). The surrounding housing estate is friendly but Escomb is not an obvious holiday destination. Stay here for the church, countryside river walks and inexpensive rooms.
The Derwent Valley
I reviewed this established country inn largely because of its good location for exploring Derwentdale and popular Sunday lunches (always busy with families and Coast-to-Coast cyclists). The restaurant and bar are smart (stripped floors, tartan furnishings, muted tones, exposed stone) but the ambience is relaxed and informal and that’s also how I’d describe the rooms. Nothing particularly noteworthy: just clean, neutrally decorated and modern. Some rooms are a little tight on space, however. There’s also one self-catering apartment that sleeps six. Not the cheapest rooms for the standard (around £125 a night) but the village of Edmundbyers is very pleasant and you can walk straight from the beer garden into the hills (heather moors and open pastures wherever you wander) or down to Derwent Reservoir.
This is a great down-to-earth family-friendly B&B (and small caravan site) with welcoming hosts, a games room and plenty of animals around: donkeys, alpacas and goats. Situated on the edge of the Dales around eight miles from Wolsingham and very close to the Waskerley Way (for Coast-to-Coast cyclists and walkers), the rural location is well positioned for jaunts to local beauty spots such as Tunstall Reservoir, or for trips deeper into the dales.
B&B rooms (one sleeps two and the other four with use of a sofabed) are modern, clean and averagely priced at around £200 for a two-night stay for two adults or closer to £300 for two adults and two children but prices vary through the year and depending on the number of guests. A full English breakfast made with some local produce will set you up for the day. Those staying in the touring caravan and campervan field (maximum capacity of eight vehicles) will enjoy far-reaching views and serenity.
Traditional country elegance touches every corner of Westgate Manor, a detached Victorian country house on the edge of its namesake village in upper Weardale. While there’s little of interest in Westgate itself, you’ve really come here for the hills or perhaps you’re travelling through on the nearby Coast-to-Coast cycleway. However you arrive, you’ll receive a warm welcome and can expect a spacious room with high ceilings, beautiful views of the valley sides, curtains that skim the floor, a roll top bath, four-poster bed and a huge amount of period charm and luxury finishes. Fall into the guestroom after a day on the hills, warmed by a log burner, or treat yourself to a three-course meal of the kind you’d expect in an upmarket restaurant (note the impressive wine list). B&B rates for a double cost in the region of £200 a night.
Slitt Wood, a beautiful old woodland crowding the sides of Middlehope Burn, is a short stroll away where there are a good few miles of trails passing little waterfalls to see the old lead mine, as well as the Weardale Way long-distance route.
There are a few townhouse places to stay in Middleton-in-Teesdale offering bed and breakfast accommodation but this Georgian guesthouse (and The Hill B&B detailed below) stood out for the comfortable, good value rooms (nothing boutique or designer here), hospitable host, guestroom with a fire and excellent full Teesdale breakfast (like a full English but with plenty of local produce on your plate). A popular choice with Pennine Way walkers, this being just a short walk from the long-distance trail. Doubles are around £100 a night.
The Hill B&B
Simple, spotless rooms (£100 for a double) in a Victorian town house in the centre of this busy market town. A great choice for Pennine Way walkers or anyone exploring Teesdale with plenty of attractions closeby.
The Milbank Arms
Barningham, Greta Valley
High above the Greta Valley on the Durham-Yorkshire border, Barningham is not somewhere well known to travellers, but it is a picturesque village surrounded by some beautiful countryside and has this smart old pub and restaurant at its centre. Dating to 1690, the Milbank has sophisticated, unfussy rooms upstairs, some with exposed beams, and all in keeping with the rural setting with some decorative fabrics, wallpapers and the odd antique for added country appeal. Superior B&B accommodation for mid-range prices (between £100 and £200 a night depending on the room) and three similarly good value holiday cottages. Plenty of scenic walks in the area along the River Greta and across farmland. The Georgian mansion, Rokeby Park, and historic village of Greta Bridge are just a few miles down the hillside, and Barnard Castle a 15-minute drive away.
The Quirky Quarry
On the side of a wooded slope above Middleton-in-Teesdale is this small mid-range B&B with three double rooms (bright, modern interiors) and a shepherd’s hut in the garden sleeping two. The friendly owners pride themselves on serving up one of the best breakfasts going in Middleton using plenty of local ingredients. Prices with breakfast are in the region of £100 per room. The views are wonderfully scenic across the Hudeshope Valley which offers walks along the river and to ruined mines. Pick up and drop off service for Pennine Way walkers (it’s a stiff hike from Middleton to the B&B if travelling on foot so you’ll be glad for the lift).
The Rose & Crown
Well known in Teesdale for its superb restaurant, Romaldkirk’s 18th-century, dog-friendly inn is simply one of the finest B&Bs in the dale. Exposed beams and stone walls reveal the building’s 300-year-old heritage including in the snug bar with its stone flagged floor and low ceiling where locals and walkers gather around an open fire.
Choose from seven upstairs rooms, all modern with country styling and select pieces of antique furniture, or five courtyard rooms to the rear in a single-storey row with outdoor seating. A 17th-century cottage, paces away from the pub, has two rooms and the same understated style (and low ceilings). Expect to pay above average prices at just under £200 a night for doubles and around £250 for dinner, bed and breakfast – the most popular option. Enjoy produce from Teesdale’s hills and the North Sea on the menu in a refined, candle-lit dining room.
For more information, see Gemma Hall’s guide to Durham: