Downtown Durham Adds New Hotels


The Graduate Hotel is slated to open in Spring 2017.

Downtown Durham has added four new hotels in 2015, and two more are slated to open in Spring 2017. The new hotels were long overdue for the city to enable the Convention Center to attract more events, and to meet the increasing demand of a growing office market. In addition, Duke University recently announced that it plans to open a second on-campus hotel early next year.

The two new hotel projects planned for 2017 involve renovating defunct hotel properties. The first is a shuttered 150-room hotel located at 600 Williard Street, just a block from American Tobacco Campus. This property will be developed into a Graduate Hotel, a new brand of college town boutique hotels created by AJ Capital Partners. “Created for travelers who seek memory-making journeys, Graduate Hotels are part of a well-curated, thoughtfully crafted collection of hotels that reside in the most dynamic, university-anchored towns across the country,” according to the firm.

The second project is a renovation of the former 74-room Jack Tar Motor Lodge, which will be developed into an Unscripted Hotel, a new brand created by Dream Hotel Group, and developed by Austin Lawrence Partners. According to the firm, “The Unscripted brand was created as a beautifully designed, accessibly-priced alternative to the sea of homogenous products in the upscale hotel space. Contemporary but not trendy, it focuses on healthful yet lively environments and responsible food choices alongside destination lounges, state-of-the-art fitness centers and skin-friendly bath amenities. Its chic guest accommodations focus on creating a better live/work environment with features that are not necessarily common among hotels, including color therapy, advanced lighting, memory foam mattresses and a sleep-to-wake system that uses light to simulate dawn.”


A rendering of the JB Duke Hotel.

At Duke University, the second on-campus hotel will be the 198-room JB Duke Hotel, a $62 million project being built at the edge of the university’s West Campus on a site that includes the R. David Thomas Executive Conference Center, which is also being renovated. “We designed the JB Duke Hotel to serve as an attractive option for a wide range of events, from professional academic conferences to social gatherings, personal celebrations, and weddings,” said Greg Hilker, who will serve as manager of the new hotel. Hilker also stated that the JB Duke will be a “modern twist on southern hospitality that will complement the traditional aspects” of the university’s other on-campus hotel, the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club.


The 21c Museum Hotel features rotating exhibitions.

New and unique hotels that opened in downtown last year include The Durham Hotel, the 21c Museum Hotel, and the Aloft Durham Downtown hotel. The Durham Hotel, a boutique hotel, opened in the former Mutual Community Savings Bank. The Durham houses 53 rooms featuring modern interiors and local collaborations, an American restaurant by James Beard Award-winning chef Andrea Reusing, and a rooftop lounge. The 21c Museum Hotel, a 125-room boutique hotel, contemporary art museum, cultural civic center, and home to Counting House restaurant, is located in the heart of Downtown Durham. It is North America’s first museum devoted solely to art of the 21st century. The Aloft Durham Downtown hotel is located in the heart of the American Tobacco Historic District, and includes a design-forward, modern vibe. Features include a cocktail bar, lounge, and outdoor pool. These hotels are enjoying tremendous success, and have been featured in such publications as Travel + Leisure, Architectural Digest, The New York Times, and Condé Nast Traveler.