The Trials and Tribulations of Being Best

Durham Cathedral and the riverSometimes I think we  set ourselves a very high bar when we dedicated our website to the best small hotels. What is best? Well, it's different things to different people and as far as we can, we have to show hotels that people will universally agree to be amongst the best. Of course, you can't please all of the people all of the time, but we try to get as close as possible to that ideal.

Until recently I had never visited Durham. I knew it had a cathedral and a university, and that was about it. When I finally saw the city, I was really impressed. The whole of the old city is high on a hill surrounded by a large meander of the river Wear. The streets are cobbled, the shops are small and pretty, and there are lots of pubs, bars and restaurants to chose from. The cathedral, Palace Green and the surrounding streets are both interesting and beautiful, and demand at least half a day to be properly appreciated. I also found a stunning riverside walk, circumnavigating the town at river level, and I have to recommend that to everyone.

We enjoyed our stay in Durham and in many ways I really wanted to add the hotel we stayed in to Best Small Hotels. Eventually though I had to accept that it was just "very good" and I couldn't truly call it "best". They were only small things: the breakfast was a bit lacking in choices, the garden was cramped and shady and seemed a bit pointless, and a part of the stairs remained unlit for two days. Reviews on other websites also fell just a tiny bit short of what we would need. I feel bad, because it was a nice building in a nice position and the girl we met on reception, at breakfast, in the bar and just about everywhere was always cheery and helpful and brightened my day.

But finally I had to be true to our concept. This hotel didn't make the cut.

We moved on, and our next stay in the north-east of England was at the Lord Crewe Arms. Now that did tick all the boxes and I'm glad to say has been added to Best Small Hotels.

14 Jun 2017, 17:50