Chloe, Katie and I have formed a fantastic friendship over the past two years and for the last year or so, Katie has been constantly nagging us to visit her in Durham. We are always so busy though and trying to get the three of us together can be a complete nightmare at times. However as if by magic, the stars aligned and we all happened to be free last weekend. The Kingslodge Inn kindly invited us all to spend the night and we all could not wait for some proper catching up and quality time together.
The Kingslodge Inn is perfectly nestled at the end of a quiet street in Durham just a 5 minute walk from the train station. It is fairly easy to find and if you are driving there is free parking which I think is quite rare for a pub that is so close to the city centre. The small beer garden is filled with flowers (even at this time of year) and I can certainly see myself returning to enjoy a few bottles of wine with Katie and Chloe in the summer before catching the train home.
I would describe the Kingslodge Inn as a country pub with rooms. There are just over 20 rooms to choose from ranging from single rooms up to family suites for 4. Rooms are traditional and comfortable in style with country fabrics and super comfy beds. There are little extras such as a tea tray stocked with treats from local favourites Ringtons, beautiful floral scented handwash in the bathroom and Living North Magazines by your desk. Prices are pretty en-par with a budget hotel but it's details like this that set the Kingslodge Inn apart.
The pub is beautiful and the perfect place to hide away from the cold. Comfortable easy chairs, plush sofas and a warming fire. What more could you ask for? Oh the bar is dog friendly too so they get extra points. I don't know about you but now that I'm over 30 I will take a night in a good pub over a bar crawl any day and the Kingslodge happily obliged.
The staff at the Kingslodge Inn are superb - nothing is too much trouble and they are geuinely interested in your plans for the weekend and how they can assist. When Katie mentioned she was heading to Beamish the following day, the staff returned with a 25% off voucher for her to use. I really think that investing in staff is one of the best things you can do as a business and from other reviews I've read, the Kingslodge Inn certainly do this.
Onto the food.......
Unfortunately both the starter I had my eye on (Salt Cod Fritters) and the main (Rib Eye Steak) had both sold out - I am told this happens regularly so don't set your heart on ordering a specific dish would be my advice. In the end this didn't matter though as the food I did order was delicious. To start I went for the Antipasto platter which for £7.95 was a very generous portion and more than enough for two people I would say.
Then for my main course I ordered a big bowl of mussels in a white wine sauce which was served with crusty bread and a big bowl of homemade chips. A huge thumbs up to the Kingslodge Inn for serving homemade chips as I think most establishments in this sort of price range would opt for frozen.
I am picky but I do think pubs should decant sauces into dishes when served at the table - the Kingsloge Inn bring you packets of Heinz sauce when you ask for ketchup which reminds me of Burger King and the Kingslodge is so much better than that. Also - how awkward is it trying to open a packet of sauce when you're half way through a bowl of mussels!
Onto my favourite part of the meal - dessert. I was delighted when I spotted homemade sticky toffee pudding on the menu. Served with vanilla ice cream, it was the perfect end to our meal and a dish I can certainly recommend.
We had dined quite late (and talked A LOT) and by 10pm the restaurant had cleared around us and we were the only ones left. We decided to take our drinks into the bar area for the last hour and it was definitely my sort of bar. A dog lay by the fire, locals were catching up over beers and a few people were popping in for last orders on their way home. The atmosphere was lovely - why can't we have a pub like this in Cramlington! As I sunk into my chair I actually could have stayed there all night.
It wasn't to be though and as last orders were called we retired to our bedrooms where we enjoyed a very comfortable night's sleep.
Another point I wish to make about the rooms is that they were very well equipped - little details such as having a plug socket next to your bed for phone charging and an iron and ironing board in the room make all the difference - again, it's the little details that often matter the most.
Breakfast is served from 7:30am - 9:30am and it was the only part of our stay that I was disappointed with to be honest. One of the best parts about staying away for the weekend for me is having someone else cook a breakfast for you. We headed down at 9am and helped ourselves to yoghurt and cereal whilst ordering hot food from the menu. I seriously felt like I was Chloe and Katie's adopted mum as I watched them dig into their coco pops!
Our breakfasts weren't anything special and I was disappointed that there weren't any pastries on offer - I usually look forward to a croissant and honey with my coffee in the morning when staying away so was a little sad when I realised this option wasn't available. Little things like heading up to the drinks station for a refill to find out it had already been cleared away (despite there still being residents enjoying breakfast), the lack of choice (no fresh fruit or pastries) and again those annoying packet sauces being served with our breakfast did let the Kingslodge Inn down. Saying that though, you don't pay any extra for breakfast if you're a resident and what's on offer is certainly better than nothing at all. There is definite room for improvement and I always think breakfast is the ideal opportunity to remind guests just how wonderful you are.
We checked out at 10:30am and were asked if we needed any help with plans for the day which is always a lovely touch. I left feeling impressed and pleased that I had found a budget city centre hotel that really makes you feel welcome and goes that extra mile.
With deals from £125 per double room including dinner, bed and breakfast and 2 for 1 on glasses of Prosecco every Friday between 5-7pm, plus the inn's proximity the the train station and free car park, I really could not recommend the Kingslodge Inn enough as a lovely base to explore Durham or simply as a place to enjoy some quality time with family, friends and loved ones.
Disclosure: We received a complimentary stay at The Kingslodge Inn on a DBB basis. All thoughts and words are my own.