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Where to go and what to do on a spa break in Durham

A city and county that are famous for their heritage, university and historic architecture, Durham is postcard perfect and aching to be explored.

Here are our top recommendations for where to go and what to do on a spa break in this gorgeous part of the North East.

Things to do in Durham

Durham is a region where Charles Dickens gathered ideas for ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, where the cloisters of the city's famous cathedral helped set the stage for the Harry Potter movies, and from which an amateur football team from West Auckland won the first World Cup in 1909. Whatever inspires you to visit, there's a wealth of things to see and do in Durham and County Durham - here are a few favourites.

Visit Durham Cathedral

A shrine of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede, Durham Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. Dating back to 1133, it is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. Free to enter, explore from the museum to the tower and Harry Potter filming locations.

Explore Durham Castle

There are lots of castles in County Durham to explore, but one of the most popular is Durham Castle itself. Building began under the orders of William the Conqueror in 1072, and today the 11th-century Norman structure sits in Durham's World Heritage Site. It is now home to students of University College. Visitors can go on guided tours, discovering its impressive architecture and its role in history.

Go stargazing at Grassholme Reservoir

There are 16 Dark Sky Discovery Sites, officially recognised places for stargazing, dotted throughout the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO Global Geopark. 12 of those are in the Durham Dales, including the Grassholme Reservoir. For those who wish to discover the universe, head to the Grassholme Observatory, a purpose-built observatory overlooking Teesdale’s Grassholme Reservoir, to see the stars and planets light up the night sky in an outstanding display of astronomy.

Journey to High Force Waterfall

One of the most spectacular waterfalls in England, located at Forest-in-Teesdale in the heart of the Durham Dales, High Force Waterfall is thousands of years old, plunging 21 metres into a gorge and surrounded by trees. Arguably at its most impressive in the autumn and winter, there are walking routes around it, including a circular one which will also take you past Low Force Waterfall, which tumbles over the Whin Sill, a layer of dolerite rock formed 295 million years ago.

Walk the Durham Heritage Coast

The Durham Heritage Coast runs from Sunderland to Hartlepool, taking you on a spectacular exploration of natural, historical and geological intrigue. Take in views of the North Sea as well as shallow bays and headlands with yellow Magnesian Limestone cliffs. One way to explore is by taking on one of the six Northern Saints Trails, based on ancient pilgrimage routes. The Durham Coastal Footpath is an 11 mile walking route, but you can also opt to do shorter stretches.

Spas and spa hotels in Durham

Whether you fancy staying in the city itself or in one of the mesmerising estates close by, spa hotels invite you to combine that heritage and natural beauty with rest, relaxation and plenty of pampering.

NuSpa - Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

Located right in the city centre, you can explore the sights and shops of Durham by foot from this hotel, before heading back for some indulgent spa time. Nu spa has three treatment rooms, from which you can relax, as your therapist treats you to a massage, facial or body ritual. Next door, at the Pace Health Club, there’s a swimming pool, steam room and sauna facilities which are perfect for pre- or post-treatment enjoyment.

Book a spa break at NuSpa - Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

Rockliffe Hall

This world-class country retreat offers five-star facilities and optimum elegance in 375 acres of private grounds. On the banks of the River Tees and dating back to 1774, the hotel has an impressive history and was the backdrop for parts of Michael Caine’s 1971 film Get Carter. Stay in opulent rooms and suites, dine in their Orangery restaurant with a walk-in wine cellar, and relax in their immaculate, 50,000 square foot spa complete with indoor and outdoor facilities.

Book a spa break at Rockliffe Hall

Redworth Hall Hotel

A spectacular Jacobean mansion set in 26 acres of glorious landscaped grounds, Redworth Hall Hotel dates to 1693 and is a four-star hotel offering total tranquillity. Its Retreat leisure club and spa is a favourite feature whether you’re looking for a solo spa retreat or celebrating something special with friends. Indulge in an ESPA beauty treatment, relax in the indoor heated pool, take a nap in the tranquil relaxation room or enjoy a bite to eat or a drink in the stunning Retreat Lounge.

Book a spa break at Redworth Hall Hotel

Hall Garth Hotel

Close to the historic market town of Darlington, Hall Garth Hotel is a converted manor house dating back to the 15th century. Wake to views of the gardens and dine in The Oswald's restaurant or the hotel's own pub. The Revive Spa is a unique and welcoming open space almost like a spa lounge. A modern gym sits in its own room, while relaxation facilities include two indoor hot tubs, a sanarium, a chill bath and a relaxation area, all in one free-flowing area. On an outside deck, guests delight in an all-weather hot tub, while a conservatory has been refurbished complete with dedicated manicure and pedicure station.

Book a spa break at Hall Garth Hotel and Revive Spa

Manor House Hotel - County Durham

A former hunting lodge, The Manor House Hotel is steeped in history, not least of all because it is said to have played host to Henry VIII. Dinner is served in The Beehive Lounge – named for retaining its original historic fireplace and beehive oven. Meanwhile, the spa has a range of facilities to help you relax and unwind, topped off with TEMPLESPA treatments inspired by the Mediterranean.

Book a spa break at Manor House Hotel - County Durham
Discover more spas in Durham and County Durham

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