Have a Darlington staycation

If you’re looking for a North East staycation or short break, Darlington could be the perfect place. With a whole host of great accommodation options, places to eat and drink, and no shortage of things to do, it could be the ideal location for a bit of relaxation with your family, friends or other half. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to reach by road and rail!

Take a look at our recommendations for places to stay, activities and dining in Darlington, and start planning your trip.

Amazing places to stay

Whether you’re looking for something in the town or countryside, there’s a range of places to stay in Darlington for a staycation or short break. If you’d like to stay a stone’s throw away from a vast array of shops and eateries, you’ll love Houndgate Townhouse. This Georgian hotel boasts eight boutique rooms for a truly relaxing stay and provides a fantastic base for exploring the town centre. You can also enjoy fresh, mouth-watering seafood and organic wines in the restaurant, Saltfish.

Nestled in wooded parkland on the outskirts of Darlington, you can enjoy a relaxed and comfortable stay at The Blackwell Grange Hotel. This 1693 Georgian building keeps its vintage charm in its architecture, fused with contemporary rooms and an oasis of calm with the heated swimming pool, jacuzzi and beauty salon. This mansion places you perfectly to enjoy the beautiful surrounding countryside or explore the nearby town centre for shopping and dining.

For a touch of luxury that’s right on the town centre’s doorstep, try Bannatyne Hotel. This Duncan Bannatyne’s signature hotel - a stunning Grade II listed Georgian townhouse where the grandeur and warmth of a historic past, meets contemporary convenience and style. There’s an in-house restaurant too, Maxine’s, which is ideal if you don’t want to stray too far from the hotel on your break. You’ll also get access to the nearby health club if you book a stay directly with the hotel!

If you want to take it back to nature, Kip & Nook offers gorgeous glamping experiences in their containers, loft, barn and brand new addition, The Den. This Scandinavian-inspired container is truly off-grid with no WiFi and solar panels to produce renewable energy, so it’s a very unique stay. If a wood fired hot tub, super king bed, fire pit and watching the sunset over the wild outdoors in a secluded location sounds like your idea of escapism, then this is the place for you.

There are plenty of budget-friendly options too, especially if you’re looking to stay close to the town centre, such as Premier Inn. This spot is conveniently located by the DL1 leisure complex and a minute's walk from the town centre. There's a wealth of cafe, restaurants and shops to enjoy, as well as the on-site Thyme restaurant for breakfast, so this is a great option if you love variety. Plus, you won't be too far from the Hippodrome or Hopetown when it reopens in the summer!

Incredible things to do

You’re never short of things to do in Darlington and there’s something for the whole family. Throughout the summer, there's a whole host of free events to attend in the town centre. From the ever-popular Darlington By The Sea that sees a giant sandpit land in the market square to the massive Rhythm & Tunes Festival that people from across the country head to the town to enjoy, there truly is an event for everyone.

Why not try and get a strike at DC Bowl? This bowling alley in the Dolphin Centre has bookable lanes for up to 6 people, so you can enjoy a game or two with your family or your other half! You can also order food and drinks to enjoy whilst you play, so this could be a great activity to enjoy over lunch or with a quick snack.

Darlington is home to several theatres, all of which have a variety of shows and events on throughout the year. The Hippodrome have a fantastic range of family-friendly shows and film screenings across the summer holidays, as well as touring shows that grown ups can enjoy on an evening out. The smaller scale Majestic Theatre also has some great choices, offering amateur productions, live music, comedy nights and so much more. Theatre Hullabaloo are all about bringing theatre experiences to children aged 0-16 and it’s the only dedicated children’s theatre north of London. It’s a brilliant place to spend a few hours with your little ones.

If you’re in need of a bit of retail therapy, Darlington town centre is bursting with gorgeous independent and big name shops. Whether you're looking for something new to wear, some home decor, something to read or a snack, there's a shop that can help you out. Take a look down the yards and wynds for incredible independents, and try Cornmill Centre and Queen Street for high street favourites.

Why not get the family or your friends together to try out an escape room? Cluedini has three game rooms to try, including an ancient Egypt-themed room that invites you to enter a tomb and find the Golden Ankh. This spot is a lot of fun and a really great idea if you're looking to do something different during a staycation or short break. Or if you want to get creative, pay Create and Paint a visit to do some pottery painting. They also run paint, pizza and Prosecco evenings, which could be a lot of fun for couples of friends on a staycation trip.

Darlington is home to some of the most beautiful parks, including South Park, which is a great option for a picnic or to keep kids entertained with the fantastic playground and bird aviary. West Park is loved by dog walkers for its meandering paths, but also those who love a treasure hunt to find hidden sculptures. There's also Stanhope Park that's right next door to the town centre, so you can tie in some shopping too, and The Denes, which links six green spaces to form a park that stretches 1.5km along the river.

Fantastic food and drink

When it comes to dining in Darlington, you really are spoiled for choice. Why not skip the hotel breakfast and head into town for a bite to eat? Maggie’s on Duke Street and Hatch on Blackwellgate do the most delicious brunch dishes, such as Eggs Benedict, smashed avocado and waffles. If you’re outside the town centre, you’ve got to try Cactus Café & Kitchen near West Park for the most phenomenal pancake stacks!

You’re not short of lunch options across the borough, including the fabulous Falafel Fella in Clark’s Yard. This café and takeaway cooks up authentic Syrian falafel in front of you, and serves them up with tasty tahini and sumac. And that’s not all – you can enjoy a variety of wraps, Syrian sweets and reza bhalib, a traditional Arabic rice dessert. Al Forno offer a two course lunch menu, so if you’ve been out shopping around the town centre, this is an excellent choice to refuel. From pasta and risotto, to pizza, to seafood and beyond, they cover all of the Italian favourites and more.

For dinner, there’s something to suit all palates. If you love relaxed vibes and street food, Salt on Grange Road serves up smash burgers, loaded fries, tacos and plenty more in their super aesthetic restaurant. There’s also the Indoor Market, which is home to several street food vendors covering a variety of cuisines. It’s a really great spot for a night out with regular live music nights and quizzes.

For something a bit more refined, try The Bay Horse in Hurworth for beautiful plating and seasonal menus, or Tomahawk Steakhouse for the most sensational steaks. If pizza is your thing, don’t miss out on Stable Hearth, who serve up authentic Neapolitan pizzas with a vast array of toppings. Or if Asian food is your favourite, Bambudda is a gorgeous spot for Chinese cuisine or you can try T.A.O. for Japanese street food and noodles. The possibilities are endless!

To wind down your evening, take in a cocktail or two at Sortie on Houndgate. Sitting in the cosy, candlelit bar, surrounded by exposed brick walls and a wooden beamed ceiling, with a cocktail in hand and an immaculate charcuterie board, you could be in an old town on the Mediterranean coast. It truly feels like a whole other world! If wine is more of your thing, give Vesuvio a go, where you’ll find wines from around the world and regular tasting events.

Find more inspiration for your trip to Darlington in our blog posts.


Enjoy Darlington