An old-school drinking bar in the middle of Durham: no music, no fruit machines, just original Victorian interiors trapped in aspic. There’s a roaring fire, ancient wallpaper, pints of Big Lamp and lots of local banter. In the old days, shawled ladies would pop in to retrieve an errant husband. These days it’s students, bar-room philosophers and beers lovers who drop by. It’s not to everyone’s taste – if you want boutique interiors and impeccable service, look elsewhere – but those who like to quaff a pint or two with the odd portrait of Queen Victoria hanging on the wall will love it. Bedrooms upstairs aren’t huge and those by the road can get noisy, but all have honest prices and are a good base for exploring the city. Most have been partially refurbished in the last two years and come with lots of colour and good bathrooms. Some have brass beds, others Fleur de Lys wallpaper; the family room up in the eaves is large and airy with a contemporary style. Big breakfasts wait downstairs, Durham starts at the front door: cobbled streets, riverside walks, university and cathedral. Good restaurants wait nearby, Hadrian’s Wall is close.