Houndgate Townhouse: Culture & Relaxation

From our A-Z, available from the hotel:

Houndgate Townhouse is located on the western edge of Darlington Town Centre, a minute’s walk from the Market Square.

Darlington is a Market Town and the Gateway to the Tees Valley.

Home to the first public railway, the town is steeped in history and boasts one of the oldest railway stations in the world which to this day houses George Stephenson’s Locomotion No.1.

Museums Darlington is a town with a rich history, and a great variety of museums both to the town and nearby including the Railway Museum at North Road Station, a sister museum of the National Railway Museum York which houses the Locomotion, Shildon Railway Museum, Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle and the North of England Museum at Beamish.

Theatres The Darlington Hippodrome presents a year-round cultural programme for theatre lovers of all ages.

Beauty & wellness Darlington has many facilities in the area of beauty and wellness for those looking to relax and recharge their batteries.

Recreation Being located in the Tees Valley between the Pennines and North Yorkshire Moors, there are lots to do in and around the town. Find out what’s possible at reception.

Walks Enjoy a walk through the streets of historic Darlington. Ask reception about good walking routes in the area.

Shopping in Darlington: Fashion, antique, jewellery, art, design, vintage and delicatessens: Darlington has it all.

The Great Exhibition of the North starts this week

The Great Exhibition of the North, a free celebration of the North's pioneering spirit, opens this Friday 22nd June, with a number of events planned across the summer in Newcastle and Gateshead, until it's close on Sunday 9th September.

The country’s biggest event in 2018, it will pack a programme of amazing exhibits, live performances, displays of innovation, new artworks and unforgettable experiences into 80 days.

Robert Stephenson’s iconic locomotive Rocket will come home to Newcastle, on loan to Discovery Museum from the Science Museum Group as part of the Great Exhibition of the North.

Our guests can access some of these events by by train from nearby Darlington Train Station to Newcastle Central Station in approximately thirty minutes.

Make it to the [Festive] Market!

To coincide with Christmas light switch on tonight, Darlington is hosting their very own festive market today, tomorrow and Saturday on High Row between 9am - 5pm!


Here are some other regional delights that made the cut in this year's Living North's Essential Guide to Christmas:

Grey's Monument, Newcastle (30 minutes by train) 11 - 17 December

Welcoming stall holders from the local area, treat yourself to beers from microbreweries, homemade jams abd handmade chocolates here, and get to the business of gift-buying with the selection of hand-thrown pottery, woolly hats and jewellery.

Durham (20 minutes by train) 1 - 3 December

Transforming Durham into a Christmas shopping wonderland, this festival will take over various venues in the city, from the Catherdral cloisters to the historic market place. There's artisan food and handcrafted gifts to interest the adults, and a children's lantern parade to occupy the little ones.

Millenium Square, Leeds (60 minutes by train) 10 November - 24 December

You don't have to travel far to find a traditional German Christmas market. Leeds' Millenium Square will be transformed into a scenic winter village with a variety ofauthentic wooden chalets, a traditional carousel and the Ski Hutte bar to escape the cold.

Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle (30 minutes by car) 15 - 17 December

Locallt sourced Christmas produce, live music and seasonal entertainment will make their way to this magnificent 19th century museum - fitting surroundings for a festive celebration. With over 100 hand-picked stallholders, you can make a day of it.

Turkish Tulips at The Bowes Museum

Open until 5th November, the Turkish Tulips exhibition at The Bowes Museum shows the trail of tulips for an insight into our relationships with Europe and the Middle East through the eyes of contemporary artists.

Works by Damien Hirst, Cornelia Parker, Gavin Turk and Sir Peter Blake feature.

Images above by @hannaheleesh @lindsmc7 and @christinavmakris respectively, via Instagram.

Tickets are £14 for adults, £12 for concessions.

The Bowes Museum is in Barnard Castle, a 30 minute drive from Houndgate Townhouse.

What's Coming Up...

A couple of great regional attractions are returning in 2017 for another run. Here's a closer look:

1) Kynren

A thrilling romp through English History

1st July - 16th September / Fridays and Saturdays

Kynren 2016

Bishop Auckland

Tickets from £25 for adults, £19 for children


'Kynren - an epic tale of England' takes you on a captivating journey through 2,000 years of British history, myth and legend. The 90-minute show begins at sunset and ends in star light, set against the magnificent backdrop of Auckland Castle.

2) Lumiere

16th - 19th November




Back in Durham for the fifth time, artists from around the world will illuminate the city in delightful and unexpected ways, with a series of light installations to explore.

Spring has sprung on our courtyard terrace.

Back in December 2016 Brian Russell at Little Newsham Forge came to us with some designs for some alternative fencing on top of the existing terrace wall. This is the one we chose:

We visited artist blacksmith Brian's dark studio back in December to see the progress:

It was installed back in February but we have been enjoying it more recently due to the good weather on our terrace.

Come down and enjoy an al fresco lunch or host your own event on our terrace and see our newest addition for yourself.

Declan & Robert's December Wedding

Have a look at some of the great photos CARRO Studio have sent over of a wedding reception hosted by us at the end of last year.

Congratulations to the newlyweds.

To book your Big Day or other Special Occasion with us, please call Beverley on 01325 486011 or email beverley@houndgatetownhouse.co.uk.

See also our "host" section on this website for further details.

August's Cocktail of the Month - the Inspiration

Here at Houndgate Townhouse, we like to believe that inspiration is everywhere (similar to the fashion designer Paul Smith).

When we were on a weekend away in Copenhagen recently we visited a couple of very cool cocktail bars, owned by the same company - called Ruby and Lidkoeb.

We opted for a rum-based cocktail in Ruby and were suprised when a parrot landed on our table [image via instagram]:


A few weeks later Paperchase brought out their "Let's Squawk" mug and a lightbulb moment of inspiration occured...


...and so our August cocktail of the month was born - ours is called Rio [it also coincides with the Olympics which start on the fifth of August].

Our Kraken rum-based "Rio" cocktail is available throughout August 2016:

Artful Bedrooms - We Are Three!

On the first of August 2016 we will celebrate three years of trading here at Houndgate Townhouse.

To celebrate we have chosen some artwork from Artful (the same company we got our Armando Ferrari staircase pieces from)  for the bedrooms - the final finishing touch.

We have chosen the following pieces, one for each bedroom:

Broken Promises | Construction #03 | Don't Wait Too Long | Drive Home

Into The Night | Letting Go | Shift | Big vs Small

A bit anbout the artist, according to her Artful bio:

Liesel Böckl was born in Kobe, Japan to a German father and a Japanese mother. She now lives and works in London.

Her collages are carefully constructed spaces which house her memories and experiences. They are carefully assembled using found textures and objects and then photographed.

Amongst the group exhibitions Liesel has participated and exhibited her work in are “London Vox”, Red Gate Gallery, London, 2010; “Time”, WW Gallery, London, 2010; “BOGOF”, WW Gallery London. Her work has also been featured in “Digital Arts”, “Figaro Japan" and "The Green Parent”.

Let us know which is your favourite!

Flowers, fizz and canapés with Manor Garden Flowers

Clarey from Manor Garden Flowers hosted our "Flowers, fizz and canapés" evening on Wednesday 29th June. 

Mojitos and champagne were sipped and mini beef burgers, sundried tomato bruschetta, salmon en crute, olives, vegetable crisps and scones with cream and jam were nibbled. 

Starting with a large table arrangement and using flowers grown in her own garden, Clarey gave helpful tips on how to make your flowers last longer, before moving onto a hand tied arrangement. 

After a short break for tea and coffee, Clarey demonstrated how to make a summer wreath using wire and dried flowers (choosing lavender for the example piece). 

The three pieces were then raffled off to lucky winners before a short question and answer session. 

We shall be collaborating again for an Autumn "Flowers, fizz and canapés" event and a Christmas wreath and centerpiece workshop - click here to book. 

You may have spotted Clarey and her family in this month's [August 2016] Country Living magazine. Here are a few snaps:

Well done Clarey and co!

The Work of Brian Russell at Little Newsham Forge

Local Teesdale blacksmith Brian Russell is celebrating his 40th anniversary with an exhibition at The Witham in Barnard Castle which opens today.

You may recognize some of Brian's work at Houndgate; the two entrance lanterns and Honeysuckle sculpture were crafted at his studio and we have commissioned a panel for the terrace area too.

Our sister company, Bussey & Armstrong Homes, have supported the company in recent years with pieces featured in their new developments.

Brian with his work for Bussey & Armstrong Homes at Leconfield, Darlington

Date: Tuesday 14 June - Saturday 25 June
Time: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

There will be a preview night on Thursday 16th June at 6.30pm.

To see the full listing, click here.

Lights, Camera, Action! Ted Baker in Scarborough

Following on from their glamourous [if not a little bizarre] Spring/Summer 2015 campaign video in Portmerion in Wales, Ted Baker have chosen local Scarborough - or Strawberry Islands - for this year's campaign. 

Ted Baker S/S 16

Scarborough became famous for being the first British Seaside Resort as far back as 1660 (and indeed the Simon & Garfunkel song on 1965 was based on a six-week trading festival attracting merchants from all over Europe from the 13th to the 18th century).

In 1626, Elizabeth Farrow discovered a stream of acidic water running from one of the cliffs to the south of the town. This gave birth to Scarborough Spa, which features as the sunbathing platform and dance floor in the video. The once-grand Grand Hotel also stars in the campaign, as the foyer setting. When it was completed in 1867 it was one of the largest hotels in the world and one of the first giant purpose-built hotels in Europe. The Prince Regent Suite at the Royal Hotel is transformed into a bedroom for Ted Baker and the Harbour Bar is the perfect setting for the traditional ice-cream "Teddy's Bar".

Ted Baker S/S 16

We love the style of the Railway Posters from Scarborough's heyday and think they may just have inspired the Ted Baker campaign. - have a look here and here.

Scarborough is and hour and a half from us by train, changing in York, or 1 hour 46 minutes by car via Whitby and the North York Moors. Click here to book you stay with us.

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain comes to County Durham

The North-East will be once again hosting an exhibition that any fashionista will be running (or more aptly taking a car) to.

Roger Vivier for Christian Dior. Copyright of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Roger Vivier for Christian Dior. Copyright of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain which has been organised by the V&A will open at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle on June 11 and run until October 9. Featuring more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary men's and women's shoes by 70 named designers including Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Prada.

Five themes divide the exhibition: transformation, status, seduction, creation and obsession and shoes worn by David Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, The Honorable Daphne Guinness, Queen Victoria and Kylie Minogue feature alongside extreme footwear such as tiny 19th Century lotus shoes made for the Chinese tradition of foot binding.

Lotus Shoes

Lotus Shoes

For a limited time only if you book your tickets early the Museum will absorb the cost of the booking fee so there will be no additional charge to pay on top of the normal admission fee.

Click here to book your tickets and here to book your overnight stay with us! The Bowes Museum is approximately 30 minutes by car or taxi or 50 minutes by the X75 or X76 bus from outside Darlington Town Hall.

Guardian's Holiday Guide 2016: County Durham

We were pleasantly surprised this week when both The Guardian and Rough Guides listed our very own County Durham as a place to visit in 2016.

We hear you asking, "What's going on?!" We have the answer:

An outdoor show depicting 2,000 years of British history, or "Kynren" at Bishop Auckland by Eleven Arches, in artistic partnership with the French theme park Puy Du Foy, held in July, August and September.

The £31m live action show tells the epic tale of England and takes the audience on a journey from Roman times to Viking invasions, the industrial revolution and the Second World War.

Set in the shadow of majestic Auckland Castle, the shows will be presented by 1,000 cast and crew and will be performed on a 7½ acre stage incorporating a full size lake, with pyrotechnics, stunning lighting and water effects all part of the mix.

More information can be found here. Tickets are on sale now here. You can book your room with us here.

Lumiere Durham

With only eight days to go until the Festival of Light or "Lumiere" begins in Durham, we thought we'd tell you a bit about it, and what delights to expect.

In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.
— Francis Bacon

Produced by a company called Artichoke, this year's Lumiere will begin when Durham gets dark at 4.30pm on Thursday 12th November until 11pm every evening until Sunday 15th November. There will be twenty-nine installations to view.

Entry to the City Centre / Peninsula area will be ticketed only from 4.30pm - 7.30pm each night, however over half of the installations are outside of this zone, which is accessible from 4.30pm - 11pm. Everyone will be able to access the City Centre after the ticketed period ends, however there maybe queues. To access the City Centre, use the Framwelgate Bridge, Claypath or Elvet Bridge, as Kingsgate Bridge will be exit only and all other routes will be closed.

The images above are from two of the light artists exhibiting this year, Mick Stephenson and Stuart Langley, with the middle photo from This is Durham's instagram page.

We have a handful of rooms left if you would like to stay with us during the festival, with Durham a twenty minute train ride from Darlington station (a ten-minute walk from the hotel). Click here to book.

For more information about the event, click here for the official website. The festival has been such a success that it will be heading to London from the 14th - 17th January 2016 too.

Which installations are you most excited about seeing?

Artful Staircase - This Is Locomotiontown

We always knew our beautiful flowing staircase would be complemented by some artwork, but never found anything to fit the space and arts strategy until we visiting the Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead in June.

Whilst there some beautiful photographs by Glasgow-based artist Armando Ferrari caught our eye at the Artful stand. The central feature of our staircase is our commissioned blown-glass and tassel lampshade by Derbyshire craftsworkers Curiousa & Curiousa, representing the smoke coming out of the world's first steam powered passenger train which ran from Darlington to Stockton back in 1825, "Locomotion No. 1", which features on one of Darlington's Coat's of Arms. We thought these beautiful images of smoke would therefore tie in very well with this concept, as well as looking stunning in the own right as works of art. We loved the way that something that is known for being a dirty thing has been transformed into a stunning, graceful way against the monochrome background colour.

L-R: Darlington Coat of Arms featuring Locomotion No. 1, Sketch of the Curiousa Commission, The Final Product

Here is a video of Curiousa & Curiousa's working process:

We decided on four of the six prints in Ferrari's ManMade collection numbers #02, #03, #04 and #06 due to their likeness smoke moving from a train chimney. 

We are delighted with the pieces of art in place - take a look:

L-R: #04 is on display between our first and second floors, #03 is on our second floor, #06 is between our second and top floors and #02 is on our top floor

Do come in and take a closer look...

Ingenious Darlington

Houndgate Townhouse is pleased to be involved in a new initiative promoting Darlington as a great place to eat, drink, sleep and do business, called Ingenious Darlington.

As part of the "soft launch" we have been giving out a few of our own ingenious gifts - a miniature Houndgate drink (refreshing ingenuity in Darlington), some sweet pea seeds to grow (growing ingenuity in Darlington) and some cafetière coffee (fueling ingenuity in Darlington)!

For more information click on the following link:


Magna Carta - 800th Anniversary

Magna Carta, or "the Great Charter" as its Latin translation, celebrates its 800th anniversary today.

Agreed by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, it is known as being a powerful symbol for rights and freedoms. Its most famous clause, which still applies today, is that all free men have the right to justice and a fair trial. To learn more, here is a brief history of the famous parchment from The British Library:

How does this relate to Houndgate Townhouse in Darlington, you may ask? After just twenty minutes on the train from Darlington to Durham, guests can go and view Durham Cathedral's 1216 issue of Magna Carta on display at Palace Green Library, Durham University until 31st August.

Durham Cathedral have used this lovely image of artwork that Emma Bridgewater has designed on a mug in celebration of the anniversary:

Google have also got involved with today's doodle of King John and his subjects...


...and, yes, Jay-Z's 2013 album was also named after this famous document, sealed 800 years ago today.

It's a Gin thing! Gin Election Day 2015

Since today is General Election Day in the UK (see Google's handy candidates form for further details), we thought we'd conduct a poll of our own, on local craft gins!

From tomorrow, we will be serving two local, north-east based gins, Durham Gin and Mason's Yorkshire Gin, so we thought we'd gauge popular opinion about them in our Gin Election Day 2015.  

Here are the vital details on both candidates:


Mason's Yorkshire Gin
Launched: 2013
Distillery Location: Bedale, North Yorkshire (21 miles from us)
Method: 200 litres batches - each bottle has its own hand written batch and bottle number
Contents: Harrogate Spring Water, Juniper, Citrus Elements and Secret Botanicals
Accolades: Silver Medal Winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2015
Of Note: Stocked in Harvey Nichols
Accompaniment (via Craft Gin Club): Orange peel for refreshing, pink grapefruit peel and black pepper for dry or granny smiths apple slice for zing

Durham Gin
Launched: 2014
Distillery Location: Langley Park, County Durham (22 miles from us)
Method: 200 litre batches - each bottle is filled and labelled by hand.
Contents: Natural Durham spring water and 10 separate Botanicals including Juniper, Elderflower and Pink Peppercorns.
Accolades: Featured in Esquire Magazine's "6 Artisan Spirit Brands You Should Know About"
Of Note: First and only distillery in County Durham. The inspiration behind the company identity was a stained-glass window in Durham Cathedral (via Design Week).
Garnish Guide (via Craft Gin Club): A thin slice of green apple, or nectarine if we are feeling decadent



So which Gin gets your vote? Tell us in the comments section below!

Did you know? Gin was once used as a herbal medicine.

Look out for June's Cocktail of the Month, as featured in La Di Da Summer 2015 Magazine, which features Durham Gin: