The Best New Durham Boutique Hotels

By: Jason Frye

October 16, 2014

A trio of stylish boutique hotels are poised to open their doors in Durham’s vibrant downtown. As of 2015, the three new hotels will elevate the city’s status as one of the best in the South as Durham’s arts and culinary scenes continue to receive state and national accolades, thrusting the town into the spotlight. Take a look at these new Durham boutique hotels, for the city’s hottest places to rest your head.
Best New Durham Boutique Hotels | Sun Trust Building
Durham’s famous downtown skyscraper will soon become a chic boutique hotel complete with art museum, restaurant, and raw bar © Roshan Yadama/Flickr

21c Museum Hotels

In the centre of downtown, the lauded 21c Museum Hotels will open a 125-room outpost in a Durham landmark: the 17-story skyscraper known as the Hill Building. Since 21c appeared on boutique hotel radar with the opening of their first hotel in Louisville in 2006, they have quickly expanded their concept, which fuses the best contemporary art with a high-end hotel experience. At 21c Durham, a 10,500 square foot exhibition and meeting space will feature rotating curated exhibits, site-specific art installations, and a line-up of cultural programming that will infuse downtown’s culture with the forefront of contemporary art and expression. A restaurant focused on home-grown, slow-roasted flavour is planned for a huge former storefront on the building’s street level; a raw bar highlighting the best in North Carolina seafood and a cocktail and wine bar will round out the hotel’s offerings.

Best New Durham Boutique Hotels | Street Art
Murals and rotating public art installations express Durham’s vibrant cultural focus ©
Jason Frye

The Hotel Durham

The Hotel Durham is a massive adaptive-reuse project converting a former mid-century modern Mutual community Savings Bank building into a 54-room luxury boutique hotel. The Durham’s rooftop lounge promises some of the sweetest views in the city, a raw bar will showcase fresh North Carolina seafood, and the hotel restaurant, headed up by James Beard Award winning Angel Reusing, will feature a menu rich in American flavours that celebrates classic dishes while ushering them into the modern age. In keeping with the hotel’s plan to establish itself as a cultural and nightlife centre, it will also feature live music, film, and visual art events.

Best New Durham Boutique Hotels | Lucky Strike smokestack and water tower in Durham
The Historic American Tobacco Campus is a focal point for the hive of Downtown Durham © Paul Joseph/Flickr

Aloft Downtown Durham

Located in the Historic American Tobacco District, the 134-room Aloft Downtown Durham was built new to match the design and feel of the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Next door to Aloft is the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, home to minor league baseball’s Durham Bulls (yes, the team of Bull Durham fame), and across the street is the American Tobacco Campus, a hive of restaurants, tech startups, and well-heeled businesses in a former cigarette factory. Acclaimed chef Scott Howell will open the 180-seat NanaSteak on the hotel’s first floor. With indoor and outdoor seating overlooking downtown’s skyline and the Lucky Strike smokestack and water tower, NanaSteak will feature a menu of wood-fired and French rotisserie dishes as well as an adventurous cocktail list. Not to be outdone, the hotel’s own w xyz bar will serve up a menu of cocktails that range from the classic to the experimental.

Best New Durham Boutique Hotels| The Bull
Durham’s iconic bull stands in a city square near 21c Museum Hotel and the Hotel Durham ©
Jason Frye

Header Image © Advanced Aerial Photography and Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Written by Jason Frye


Jason Frye

Driven by his need to know what's around the next turn, Jason Frye became a travel and food writer. He is the author of two travel guides - Moon North Carolina Handbook (2014) and Moon North Carolina Coast Handbook (2014) - and is a food blogger, columnist, and frequent contributor to publications across the Southeastern United States. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with his wife, Lauren.

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