Carolina gem balances tradition and trends
271 Rooms / 42 Suites
Durham is a traditional college town with growing-city tendencies. Thanks to Duke University and a diverse metropolis jostling for position in the same space, there are times when the two sides spill over onto the other — and never is that more present than at Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club.
Named after the late tobacco maven and philanthropist Washington Duke, this upscale hotel option for campus visitors and area businesspeople has an elegance that resonates back to a simpler time — 19th-century-inspired furnishings and old photos of the Duke family throughout the public spaces certainly help in this mission. But in the same breath, the 271-room Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel has a cosmopolitan side that struts in the form of in-room gadgetry (iHome entertainment center, 37-inch flat-screen TV, touchscreen Kohler shower system in the suites) and an in-cart GPS system for the 18-hole championship golf course that should come with NASA clearance.
But even with its modern conveniences, at its core, the hotel is a tasteful ode to a less complicated time. Much like the scene in the lobby, rooms are styled in a classic fashion, accentuated by leather armchairs, elegant lamps and just the right hints of Duke blue on the tapestries. The esteemed restaurant, Fairview Dining Room, is a polished establishment that believes in providing attentive service, using the finest in cutlery, and serving a pan-encrusted Carolina grouper you’ll talk about for days.
Bull Durham Bar — named in tribute to the city’s Minor League Baseball team and the beloved Kevin Costner-starred movie about the squad — is alive with Blue Devil clamoring during basketball and football season. But come on an uneventful weekday and it’s as reserved as a smoker’s lounge from the 1880s — well, if said lounge had 44-inch TVs all over the place.