The Unscripted Hotel in Durham delivers retro charm with a hip millennial twist
There’s something nostalgic about the laid-back pace of the college neighborhoods that make up the Research Triangle Park. Durham, North Carolina, just a short 20-mile drive from Raleigh, leads the pack as an easy going, slower paced sister city for those of us that just need a moment to get away. As we turned on W. Parrish St., which cuts right through the heart of the Bull City’s center, the weight of the world instantly melted away.
The ladies and I drove pass throngs of people eating on patios in the warm February sun, darting from shop to shop, coffee in hand, lining the street for sundaes at Parlour until our hotel, Unscripted Hotel Durham came in to view. The shorter, brilliant blue facade in a sea of downtown tan cement stood out like a glorious, glittery thumb. “That is definitely it,” Veronica leaned in from the backseat and raised her sunglasses. This sleekly renovated, former 1960’s Jack Tar hotel blends a timeless mid-century design with a happy-go-lucky boutique atmosphere where work is a four-letter word.
The need to get away from the hustle and bustle of Charlotte was overwhelming and so when my friends and I hopped in the car for a short drive to Unscripted Hotel Durham for a girls weekend, all we were looking for was something mellow and carefree. Walking past the graffiti walls of the parking garage to the Studio and greeted with a casual “Hey there” by a hostess I mistook for a guest, I had an inkling that this wasn’t my grandmother’s Travelodge.
Filled with all the trappings of your Pinterest home inspiration boards, the graphic geometric wallpapers in the hallways and rooms, as well as the vibrant and youthful yet retro edifice harmonizes with the picture-perfect charm of Durham’s revitalized historic district. As Unscripted Hotel Senior Vice President of Creative Cory Ingram tells it, “with our Durham location, we wanted to make a lot of references to the 1960’s because of the location’s rich history & on property you will notice that things have a very sleek, modernist feel to them.” Modernist, indeed.
Step outside the hotel, and it’s a short walk to the Durham City Center. A hotspot for unique, local restaurants and shops. The famous bronze bull, the mascot of the Durham’s historical Black Wall Street, and the bull in “Bull City” is directly across the street. We didn’t spend much time touring the city because it was 78 and sunny, so the hottest place to be was right where we were. Unscripted knows its audience, so they opened the pool right up and got the cocktails flowing. The rooftop bar overlooks the city square so it wasn’t difficult to see yet another line out the door at Parlour or the chatty beer sippers downstairs at Pour Taproom.
For someone with more than poolside relaxation on their minds, there are more than 10 downtown art galleries, movies and performances at the Carolina Theatre, Triple-A baseball game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park or walks along the river at American Tobacco. If you don’t feel like straying from the summer vibes at Unscripted, stick around the Patio and have your small bites delivered by the pool or head down to All Day where you can get food…you guessed it, All Day.
A kitschy fun bubble print covers the interior walls of the second floor, while the open-air walkway on the third and fourth floors radiate with tangerine and turquoise respectively, overlooking the pool and the Patio. Decked out with a distinctive wallpaper above the wooden headboards and custom furnishings, each of the Unscripted Hotel’s 74 boutique guest rooms has complimentary wi-fi, curated amazing art, a work desk and chair (if you must) and microwave. Robes, slippers, Jonathan Adler bath amenities and ultra-soft sheets wrap guests in comfort.
I think I can speak for the ladies when I say that Unscripted Hotel, with its bright pops of color and graphic decor, is a hotel for travelers. Sure, you can host a conference or send your employees there for business, but at its very core, it’s a place for those who want to get away and feel like they are genuinely away. It’s just not a room in a new location. It’s an absolute departure that makes you feel lame for even wanting to talk shop when so many cool people and cute puppies are so close by, living life before we all go back and run the rat race again. My friend Veronica said it best. “It feels so weird to be here in this place. I was wrestling with a toddler this morning and now we’re here. It’s like a different life.” We’re not just checking and staying the night until the sun rises tomorrow.
So until then… Hang out. Tune in. Have fun.
Unscripted Hotel Durham,
202 Corcoran St, Durham, NC 27701
(984)329-9500, unscriptedhotels.com; rates start at $129/night