The Honest Lawyer is on the busy A167 three miles south of Durham City. Originally a pub, it has been extended offering 40 motel style rooms with their own parking space round a big courtyard. A wooden door leads into the room and there is a single window overlooking the back of the hotel. You nay be lucky and have a view of fields. I overlooked the bank of the River Wear with huge great sandbags indicating that flooding may be a problem.
It was a basic room but spotlessly clean. It was provided with a chest of drawers, small desk with a mirror above, a basket weave arm chair and bedside tables. The hanging space was an open cupboard by the door. Surprisingly for a hotel room, the lighting was very good.
There was a large flat screen TV along with kettle and good supply of tea and coffee as well as two small biscuits.
The bathroom was possibly slightly small and there was nowhere for a sponge bag. It had an effective over the bath shower and supply of soap and shampoo. Bath towels were large and fluffy and dried well. My only criticism was that the mixer tap on the sink was loose and spun round when you turned the taps on or off. I did report this when leaving.
It was a 4’6” bed which felt soft when you got in but soon turned out to have a hard and rather unforgiving mattress. The pillows were unforgiving too…
I was with a coach party and we had a BB&EM meal deal. Dinner was served in the restaurant area, a large room with a low ceiling that made the room feel darker than it was. We had a set three course menu but there was plenty of choice. We had placed our orders earlier in the day so the meal was served quickly. Dining room staff were efficient and pleasant. I began with the mixed meat platter which was thin slices of salami and air dried ham with rocket leaves and olives. Soup was served in individual small ‘saucepans’, an interesting touch.
The main course was roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and was a huge plateful with a massive Yorkshire pudding, two generous slices of beef with roast and mash potatoes and a small bowl of vegetables each – peas, carrots and cabbage with smoky bacon. Unfortunately the Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes had been kept hot for too long and were tough and leathery. The beef was well cooked and possibly also a bit chewy. The fish and chips was an equally large plateful and I was told was very good.
Desert was shear greed – dark chocolate cheescecake with was rich and dark. I did rather regret not choosing the cheese and biscuits with its samples of four local cheeses, good choice of biscuits and small pot of chutney.
Our menu was probably less adventurous that the “all day menus”:http://www.strhotels.co.uk/honest-lawyer-hotel/eat/ . These make a point the hotel aims to use local produce within twenty miles of the hotel.
The bar area was large but with the usual selection of keg beers. County Durham has several award winning breweries but none of their beers was available.
Breakfast was a self service buffet in the bar area. There was the usual range of cereals. Fresh fruit was available (apples, oranges, pears or plums) along with tinned grapefruit or mandarines. There was only fruit yogurt, no plain yogurt.
The cooked breakfast included rather piggy bacon, characterless sausages, black pudding, hash browns, fried egg, fried tomato, mushrooms and baked beans. Dishes were not kept topped up.
The toaster was one of those which either produced warm bread or burnt toast… There were croissants, Danish pastries and American muffins. It was an ample breakfast but overall rather ordinary. I left feeling full but not necessarily satisfied.
Prices are for the room and overall probably work out slightly more expensive than the Travelodge and cheaper than the Premier Inn. There is plenty of parking and there is a regular bus service into Durham for those not wanting to drive.
All the staff were excellent. The place was spotlessly clean, it just lacked sparkle for me… It provided good honest accommodation and is a good base for exploring the surrounding area, especially if you don’t want to negotiate Durham traffic.