We stayed for 2 nights at the three star Blackwell Grange Hotel in Darlington, County Durham in November 2012 on a £129 Groupon getaways deal. This price included two nights bed and breakfast for two people with a two course dinner on the first night. The hotel is situated one mile south of Darlington town centre, a few miles off the A1(M) between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and York. The Blackwell Grange could do with a more road-visible sign at the bottom of their driveway, as we drove straight past the entrance. We were able to park at the front of the hotel, but there is more parking around the back. The hotel looks very impressive from the exterior.
Exterior of the Blackwell Grange
That grandeur continues through the lobby area, with its first floor gallery and open fire.
Open fire in lobby of the Blackwell Grange
However, our room was in the North Wing, behind the original building, which from the exterior looked more like a 1960′s block of flats. Our room was a reasonable size with a king size bed (two single beds joined together). The bed was very comfortable but the duvet wasn’t quite large enough for the width of the bed. The room overlooked the leisure centre and what looked like permanent marquees. The furniture was all made of sturdy solid wood. There was free WiFi through the hotel and I had a very good signal in the room. It was quite fiddly to lock and unlock our room door, which needed firmness to close.
Our room at the Blackwell Grange
The bathroom had a very good rainhead shower over the bath. There was a large dispenser of bath gel/shampoo and one of soap.
The leisure centre is located in a building in the garden, reached by a covered walkway.
Leisure centre at the Blackwell Grange Hotel
We enjoyed dinner on the first night. There was a reasonable supplement free choice available on the menu. It costs £15 for a two course or £20 for a three course dinner, if you haven’t paid for dinner when booking. We both enjoed our main courses. My husband had Red Thai Prawn Curry and I had Salmon and Sweet Potato Fishcakes.
Red Thai Prawn Curry at the Blackwell Grange
Our desserts, Bakewell Tart and Sticky Toffee Pudding were good. The waiter was very attentive and pleasant.
Unfortunately, breakfast the following morning was a disappointment. There was a very limited selection of fresh fruit, the low fat fruit yoghurts were tasteless and the only bread out was sliced bread to put in the self service toaster. I assume as there weren’t many guests staying on the Sunday night, there was no hot buffet and breakfast was cooked on request. I won’t say cooked to order, as you couldn’t say what you wanted it was just “cooked breakfast” that was offered. It arrived in a greasy heap. I didn’t eat the sausages or black pudding.
Cooked breakfast at Blackwell Grange
Breakfast the next morning was a big improvement. There were slices of honeydew melon, a wider selection of yoghurts, excellent croissants and the cooked breakfast was buffet style. Apart from the fact that the fried eggs could have bounced off the wall, it was a good breakfast for a three star hotel. It’s not acceptable for breakfast selection to vary so much on different days.
I think that we made the right choice to go for the option of the dinner on the first night. There was an option for bed and breakfast only priced at £109, but I reckon paying another £20 for dinner was good value and as the hotel is outside the town centre, we’d have to go out to eat. I expect to pay around £50 for bed and breakfast for two in a mid-range hotel in the UK during low season.
The Blackwell Grange is in a good location for exploring the surrounding area with plenty of choice for day trips, e.g. Beamish Museum, Whitby, Brimham Rocks or Knaresborough. It took us around 20 minutes to walk into Darlington town centre, which has a fair choice of shops, restaurants and cafes.