The hotel is really well-positioned about 10 to 15 minutes from the city centre in a quiet spot next to the river.
Radisson Blu Hotel Durham
It’s idea for families – our large, modern family room contained two TVs and excellent WiFi.
Its indoor swimming pool is a real bonus for children and we used it every day. And parents can enjoy the jacuzzi, sauna or a spa treatment if they’re lucky.
However, for us there was too much to do to spend long relaxing.
We even managed to take a trip back in time at Beamish – the living museum of the north.
This popular day out is great fun for all the family as you travel by tram or old bus to different eras.
We visited the 1950s, 1940s, 1910s and 1820s with a cast of staff and volunteers in period costume manning traditional bakeries, sweet shops and hairdressers.
Particular highlights for us was our daughter getting a 1950’s hair-do and having a family photo in Edwardian outfits.
Our Edwardian family photo
The museum is on a large site in lovely countryside with woodland walks between some of the different attractions.
But we had to wait until our last day to fully explore County Durham’s countryside.
Heading inland, our destination was the Northern Pennines. On the edge of the hills lies Raby Castle – a beautiful castle with deer park to explore and a new play area called Potters Forest with a wooden assault course for adults and children to explore.
Our final stop was England’s highest waterfall.
A few miles outside the pretty village of Middleton-in-Teesdale lies High Force.
You can buy a ticket and snacks at a kiosk next to the High Force Hotel and then set off towards the waterfall.
An accessible 15-minute walk brings the gushing water into view. It is a spectacular sight and you can get right down onto the rocks near the waterfall.
High Force Waterfall
Once you’ve enjoyed the sight and sound of High Force, the trail takes you through woodland back to the car park – but don’t forget to keep an eye out for the wooden carvings of people and animals on the route.
A visit to High Force makes for a suitably spectacular end to a wonderful mini-break with a little bit of everything.
Address: Durham Cathedral, Palace Green Town Centre, Durham, DH1 3EP.
Palace Green Library (Durham City)
Also in the city, near to the cathedral’s main entrance on the Green, is this small museum.
It contains treasures detailing the history of Durham dating back more than 2,000 years. There are also rooms dedicated to the history of the Durham Light Infantry and another with information about Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage status.
Palace Green Library
And there’s a children’s trail you can collect at reception for them to do.
You can hire traditional, hand-made rowing boats to explore the River Wear from Browns Boats. The river is nice and wide so ideal even for novice rowers.
The team at Browns will give you advice and guidance on where to go and how to row safely before you get on board.
The boats have one seat at the front and two at the back with the oarsman in the middle.
In an hour you have time to head in both directions along the river.
Cost: Adults £8, children £5 (plus £10 refundable deposit).
Address: Browns Boats, The Boathouse, Elvet Bridge, Durham, DH1 3AF.
Dig for Sea Glass at Seaham Hall beach (Durham Heritage Coast)
It’s a strange sight to arrive at the beach at Seaham Hall, everyone is either stooping over as they walk or sitting and digging at the sand.
They are hunting for sea glass and it’s strangely addictive.
So, what is sea glass? It is coloured gems found along the shore.
They are formed from bottles, jars and other discarded glass which have been weathered, smoothed and rounded into frosted glass.
Our haul was mostly green and white in colour but there was the odd blue, yellow and even pink find.
Parking: There are steps down to the beach from the free car park above.
Address: Seaham Hall Beach Car Park, SR7 7AF.
Locomotion railway museum (South Durham)
Locomotion museum has all sorts of different trains from the national collection of railway vehicles.
It’s in the town of Shildon, which was the world’s first railway town.
Highlights include peeking inside a Royal Train which carried Edward VII’s wife and a game where you test your reaction times on railway signals.
Looking at the royal carriage
There are locomotives from different eras from the 1830s onwards with a huge variety including cattle carriages, 19th century fire engines and more.
Food: There is a small cafe but you can also bring picnics to eat inside or out.
Cost: Parking and entrance to the museum is free.
Address: Locomotion, Shildon, County Durham, DL4 2RE.
Beamish (North Durham)
Beamish is a living, working museum, where the staff are dressed up to bring to life people and places from the past.
You can experience life in the 1820s, walk around a 1900’s town, a 1900’s pit village, a 1940’s farm and a 1950’s town.
Our highlights included dressing up for an Edwardian family portrait and our daughter having her hair styled in a 1950’s hair salon.
You can get around the sprawling site by tram or old-fashioned bus and buy food from places like an Edwardian bakery or a 1900’s sweet shop.
Tickets are booked in time slots at 10am, 11am and 12noon, try to get 10am as it seemed to get busier later. If you arrive after 1pm you don’t need to reserve a timeslot. We were among the first to enter and went straight to the hair salon first for our daughter and managed to get an appointment straight away.
Food: There are various takeaway and sit-in places to eat, we bought some delicious savoury pastries from a takeaway in the mining village.
Cost: Payment includes membership for a year, it costs £21 per adult, £15.50 for students and seniors aged 60 plus and £12 for children (aged 5 to 16). Family reductions start at £37 for one adult and two children.
Address: Beamish Museum, Beamish, County Durham, DH9 0RG.
Raby Castle (Durham Dales)
This is one of England’s best medieval castles and was built in the 14th century.
The grounds of Raby Castle include a scenic deer park with lakes.
A real highlight here is The Plotters’ Forest, a woodland adventure playground for children.
Food: Take a picnic or enjoy lunch or a snack at the Yurt Cafe.
We take our children to stay at the Radisson Blu hotel on the River Wear in a great location in Durham
Radisson Blu Hotel
Where is it
It is overlooking the River Wear in Durham city centre, in the northeast of England, a mile from the cathedral and the castle.
Durham is a really beautiful city, full of culture and charm and there’s also loads to see and do.
What is it
This is a four-star hotel with 207 bedrooms.
Radisson Blu hotels are part of the Radisson Hotel Group. (Other brands in the group are Radisson Collection, Raddison, Radisson Red, Radisson Individuals, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson and prizeotel).
The company describes the Radisson Blu hotels as ‘memorable, stylish and purposeful’.
Is it family friendly?
Yes, our room was perfect for a family and the swimming pool is the icing on the cake.
Our family room was a good size, split into two areas – a spacious bedroom for us and around the corner, an area for the children with a sofa bed. Both areas have a tv and a desk.
There’s also an en-suite bathroom with an array of toiletries. The room was equipped with tea and coffee facilities, dressing gowns, iron and ironing board, safe, hair dryer and ice bucket (ice is available along the corridor).
Food and drink
The hotel’s Collage restaurant serves breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner.
Breakfast is a buffet with a range of good quality hot and continental items including pastries, croissants, cereals, bacon, egg, mushrooms, toast, cheeses, fruit and yoghurt.
We stayed over a weekend and it seemed particularly busy on the Sunday morning.
There is a separate big bar area too, serving drinks and bar snacks.
*Our room was a fabulous size and a perfect layout for us with the two sections.
*The location is brilliant – we could walk everywhere we wanted to visit in the city centre.
At night, it’s a short stroll along the river to bars and restaurants and an Odeon cinema at The Riverside.
We particularly like the relaxed nature of the Food Pit – a street food hall. Set up like a restaurant but with seven independent food vendors offering different menus, so everyone can choose from a different section but all sit together. Food included Greek, Thai, Mexican, plus there’s a bar and an ice cream/waffle dessert option. There’s even pizza and chicken nuggets and chips if you look hard enough.
*The swimming pool – we LOVE a pool and this one, at 15 metres is a great size. There were even a couple of lanes sectioned off for lane swimming.
*There is also a good-sized gym/fitness suite, but we didn’t have the tine to try it out, we were too busy swimming!
Our video tour
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best examples of Norman architecture in England and has been in use for almost 1,000 years.
Of more interest to us though, is the fact that it has been used in the Harry Potter films.
The Cloisters served as Hogwarts’ quadrangle and outdoor corridors including the scene where Ron has a spell backfire and pukes up slugs.
And the Chapter House was used as McGonagall’s Transfiguration class.
This part is usually closed but we managed to see a bit of it by peering through the keyhole!
Hire a traditional rowing boat and make your way along the River Wear.
Collect sea glass along the shore at Seaham, it’s surprisingly addictive.
This railway museum is a free attraction. It has trains of all shapes and sizes and is in Britain’s first railway town, Shildon.
Beamish – the living museum of the north, is a great day out for all the family. Near the town of Stanley, it tells the story of the people of North East England in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s.