Southern Hospitality Rules At Washington Duke Inn, a Resort in Durham, N.C.

Durham, N.C., the epicenter of the Research Triangle Park, is not known as a resort destination. But, nestled on the campus of Duke University, is a tranquil peace of resort heaven, known as the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club. It transports guests away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and opens its door for you to enjoy a slower-pace oozed with Southern hospitality.

The stately inn, nestled on 300 acres on the edge of Duke Forest, is owned by Duke University. Some weekends, you will be hard-pressed to find a room available at the  Washington Duke Inn, which could easily be mistaken for a country English estate in Durham, England, not North Carolina.

But, the good news for you is that sometimes the hotel is less busy such as when Duke University students are not on campus or when the Duke BlueDevils are not playing a home game. Summer is one of the less busy times for the hotel and as a result, you will find incredible rates and packages that every local or seasoned traveler should experience.

Under the culinary leadership of Jason Cunningham, I've been a fan of the Washington Duke Inn tea service for several decades now. They have the best scones in the state and an elegant tea service. It is also a perfect experience for kids. My son had his first tea in the Fairview Dining Room when he was seven.

Every time I have dined at the Washington Duke Inn restaurant in the past, I have had an exceptional dining experience.  I am a huge fan of the Fairview Dining Room, which is the official name of the AAA four-diamond ranked restaurant.

One of the best local secrets is that the Washington Duke Inn menu features the special Dinner at Dusk Menu, offered from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at a special price of $35 for three courses. The value alone in that meal is crazy good.  The Washington Duke Inn is also known for its weekend brunch so it's a popular spot for Duke students, alumni, and their families.

As you know from my past travels, I do not shy away from dining in fine restaurants in hotels with my kids. In non-hotel restaurants, I'm a little more cautious. The reason why I am comfortable choosing hotel dining with kids in tow is that hotels are used to dealing with children

Chef Cunningham has younger children than my two so he understands the struggles parents have when traveling. Parents, like myself, want great food, but here is Liza, who lives off of buttered noodles, a cheeseburger, and an occasional nugget. Meanwhile, my soon to-be-13-year-old is a self-exclaimed foodie, and we have to limit him or else, we will have to get a bank loan on his choices.

The Washington Duke Inn also operates the Bull Durham Bar for more casual salads, burger and sandwich options which is a perfect choice for families who need a less quiet atmosphere. I've dined here for lunch with the kids when we visited the nearby Duke Lemur Center.  Despite the numerous times I've dined at the Washington Duke Inn through the years, I had never stayed overnight and experienced what it would be like as a resort guest until this year.

Staying as an Overnight Guest in the Family Suite at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club

Even though Durham is only 45-minutes away from Raleigh, just getting out of the house for one night with the kids felt like a vacation this summer. As you know, I'm fine with just enjoying resort amenities and never leaving a property if it is for a short amount of time.  One-night away was the perfect subscription for genuine family bonding.  Even though the Washington Duke Inn is pet-friendly, Andy and my husband stayed home. Will had to work the next day and I thought I would be brave enough to take the kids to a hotel alone.

Washington Duke Inn chose the family suite for us and it was a special treat for the kids. It was a king bed with an alcove area with two bunk beds plus an awesome child-sized chess table. You book this suite for the fun and not the view. It is more expensive, but larger in size than a regular double room. Don't fret though, you will have the same ambiance in a regular room if the cost per night is more than your travel budget allows. This type of suite runs about $50 more than a regular double. Room rates start at $200 at the Washington Duke Inn during non-peak times. 

Best Scallop Dish Ever Tasted in Washington Duke Inn Restaurant 

I've already mentioned how much I like the food at the Washington Duke Inn in the Fairview Dining and the Bull Durham Bar, but I cannot write this piece without mentioning the scallop dish that is currently on the seasonal summer menu. It was pan-seared diver scallops with grilled silver queen corn, piperade, Spanish bacon, local basil aioli, and organic carrot puree. Thank goodness for google because I did have to look up the definition of piperade.  Simply put, it's French Basque dish, a saute of peppers, onions, and tomatoes. This particular dish is not on the special, lower-cost Dinner at Dusk menu though.  My husband is so tired of hearing how good the scallop entree was at the Washington Duke Inn that's for sure.

Swimming at Night and Drinks on the Green 

The Washington Duke Inn has a gorgeous indoor pool which is fun for kids year-round. I personally love the grounds of the hotel because it overlooks the Washington Duke Golf Course. Guests at the hotel get a special discount for golfing and there is a great golf store on site. The club also offers lessons and week-long courses. Every time, I go to a golf course, I say I want to take up lessons. 

But, for now, I 'll settle for a sparkling rose overlooking the green. This terrace is a wonderful spot for a casual dinner or just drinks before a performance at DPAC in downtown Durham.

Luxury Hotel Perks You Will Enjoy at Washington Duke Inn in Durham, N.C. 

*Complimentary coffee is served in the Bull Durham Bar every morning, but there is a Keurig  Coffee Maker in each room
*Room Service from 6 a.m. to Midnight
*Bull Durham Bar open until Midnight
*Fitness Center and walking trail 
*Indoor Pool
*Luxury soaps and lotions (Gilchrist and Soames of London)
*Luxury bathrooms ( I wore mine down for early coffee, but I was the only one)
*Make-Up Mirror
*Good TV (Always a plus with children)
*Valet parking, but good old free parking, too
*Bellman to help with all those stuffed animals that your kids bring with them
*Chocolates on the nightstand, and turn-down service for those who request it. I was special. I got it without asking and I have to admit that I do think turn-down service is one of my favorite things about luxury properties
*Comfy high-end bedding. Mattresses are somewhat firm.
*Great water pressure and shower heads
*Pet-friendly, but pets are not allowed in all parts of the hotels and they have certain entrances. You will need to go over that with the front desk at check-in
*Drools in Southern hospitality, and if you ask me, that's a good thing!!!!

#NorthCarolina #FamilyTravel #Travel #LuxuryHotels

The Sister Hotel: The JB DUKE Hotel 

And just when you thought this story could not get any better, the Washington Duke Inn has a sister hotel less than a mile from the Inn called the JB Duke Hotel.

This contemporary property near Duke's Fuqua School of Business and Duke's baseball stadium is also a four-diamond rated, but has a completely different tone and feel that Washington Duke Inn.  Due to the hotel's relationship with the business school, guests typically stay longer (think meetings and conferences) at this property, but it does attract the leisure guest, too. I had breakfast at the JB Duke Hotel and toured the property with staff.  There is no pool, but it has an awesome fitness center and amazing suites. Package rates typically start below $200 at this property. This fall, I'll tell you more.

Disclosure: I was a hosted media guest of the Washington Duke Inn, but this is an editorial piece and opinions are my own. Only a few people knew I was media so my experience resembled any other family. 

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