Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK


If you can, arrive into Durham by train: pulling into the station from the south, the majestic Norman cathedral looms into view, soaring high above the huddle of terraced miners cottages at its foot. Situated in the north-east of England, 15 miles south of Newcastle Upon Tyne, the city has long been a revered seat of learning – the university here is the third oldest in England. Boasting a heady mix of town and gown populace, Durham has plenty of places to stay, eat and drink, a couple of worthwhile museums, and a beautiful wooded riverscape, perfect for a peaceful stroll or boat trip.


Durham owes its existence to the hallowed saint St Cuthbert, whose embalmed body was brought here from Lindisfarne in 995 by a team of monks fleeing from marauding Vikings. They founded a small timber village with the name of Dun Holm, which has since morphed, via Dunelm, into Durham. Withstanding attacks by pillaging Scots, Durham developed into a vital pilgrimage site for both Saxons and Normans, who set about constructing the cathedral as we know it today at the end of the 11th century. Basking in this attention, far from the eclipsing interference of Westminster, the so-called Prince Bishops of Durham enjoyed considerable powers, including possessing their own parliament, army, legal system and mint. The 14th century was boom time for the bishops but during the Reformation their powers weakened considerably: they gave their castle to the university in 1832, and eventually all their powers to the Crown in 1836.

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The cathedral alone is worth the trip, and its old centre is one of England's best preserved.
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