Here are a few tips on where to stay when visiting Durham. There are quite a few other B&Bs and hotels that you can find on the web, but these are one’s I’ve heard of people staying.
Free parking is non-existent downtown so if you have a car, you might need to find a hotel/B&B that is a little further out. However, there are four free parking spots right by St. John’s on the Bailey. We found that at least one was open almost every night we stayed there in early August, so it could potentially work for a car but it’s a crap shoot.
With a Car
We have stayed at a Premier Inn several times around trips in England, and they all are good average hotels–relatively new and nice rooms: ’Durham East’ is just near our part of town. They also just completed one in the city centre as well. One hotel that just opened that seems to have cheaper prices is Bannatyne Hotel. It’s about a 5 min. drive to downtown, or about a 40 min. walk. I’ve also run into people staying at the local Travelodge. The Travelodge is only about a 10 min. walk from the city center, so it is also a “no car option”, too. For that matter, see Hild-Bede below, which is just about the same distance as Travelodge.
Without a Car
There is a Marriot hotel right down town, but it’s known to be relatively expensive. The new city centre Premier Inn would be more reasonably priced, and it’s next to a very reasonable park garage. The colleges are the other common option because of their convenience, price and location. University (Castle) College, St. John’s, St. Chad’s, and Hatfield offer B&B accommodations and are “Bailey” colleges, so they are right in the midst of downtown and next to the cathedral. I’ve only stayed at John’s, and it was more of a dorm room feel, so not the finest you’ll get but it’s adequate. In the summer you get a full English breakfast, which is very nice. Plus for the Bailey colleges, you can catch the Cathedral Bus from the train station for a mere 50p charge.
For more modern accommodations, Hild-Bede College has B&B rooms that you would more associate with a hotel setting (I’ve stayed here), with mostly en-suite bathrooms. That is, the bathroom is not down the hall. It is about a 5-10 min. walk into the city center, so still very convenient. (The “Hill” colleges are a 30 min+ walk to the city center, so be careful about where you end up.)
Here’s a website that allows you to search the different colleges for accommodations. It looks like the best way to find something at Hild-Bede is through this site.
NB. We have a friend in town and they have been trying to find places to go visit. I appears that almost all the castles and many other sites in this part of the country (and probably other parts, too) are closed for the winter until April. The cathedrals tend to stay open year-round, but the other options for winter thru early spring may be more limited than other times of the year.