A much needed long weekend or a holiday rolls around and you want to take advantage of that extra day or two off from work to scratch your traveler’s itch. What if you could experience an excursion without the long travel time by car or airplane? I was introduced to the idea of a staycation, and the JB Duke Hotel proved that you can truly escape in your backyard.
The JB Duke Hotel hosts 198 guestrooms and suites in the heart of Duke University’s campus in Durham. Equipped with conference and meeting rooms, the hotel is connected by a pedestrian bridge to Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and partners with its various educational opportunities and event hosting. This hotel embodies modern and contemporary amenities, juxtaposing its sister property, the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club, which showcases the historical roots of the Duke family.
The JB Duke Hotel has only been open for roughly a year and a half, and the modern hotel embraces this with some very notable features which we’ll briefly showcase and breakdown in detail below from a recent visit to the property earlier in the summer:
1. The room’s amenities offered items we never knew we needed
The guestroom and suite amenities have a prominent wow-factor. A stay in the Superior King Suite truly made you feel like royalty. The convenience of a small kitchenette area, complete with a Keurig coffeemaker, made the first space you walk into inviting. You can comfortably spend downtime in the suite without having to sit on beds, in a separate area with a couch, desk and TV welcome a relaxing afternoon.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the exceptional technological amenities provided: A wireless charger greets you at the nightstand while multiple outlets of various types are conveniently placed in the desks and by the bed. The shower even had two water heads with adjustable settings.
2. The amenities offered outside the rooms were just as pleasant a surprise
This hotel has a ton of on-site amenities! For example, it’s one thing to read about a 1,500 square-foot fitness center with it’s own saunas and locker rooms, but to enjoy it far surpassed expectation. I did have the whole fitness center to myself when I visited, but as an avid gym-goer, this amenity is an important one, as the equipment and space did not require me to drastically modify my workout as many hotel gyms do.
The amenities on the property were great for sure, but outside were also many welcome aspects, whether the walking trail, pedestrian bridge or the outdoor dining and lounge seating.
3. MarketPlace is not your average hotel restaurant
To further the convenience of your stay, the dining option provided at the JB Duke Hotel is one worth visiting alone. The MarketPlace offers kiosk, or buffet, style dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or an a la carte menu for dinner. This menu is curated by the chefs to offer what they feel diners would most enjoy, so of course, that was my choice.
Let me lay the disclaimer that it will not be easy to choose a dinnertime dish. The fig and the maple in the Winter Butternut Squash Salad prompted my dining companion to note that it was the most surprisingly tasty dish we tried. The very fresh, NC-sourced Catch of the Day, coupled with the sweet potato puree and spinach, made it hard to put my fork down.
4. It’s all about the personal touch
The chef, Waitus, came by the table and mentioned that the Knife and Fork Catfish Sandwich that we ordered was his favorite menu item. While I enjoyed each entrée, Chef Waitus then opens the magical door to the dessert offerings – paired with a few choice beverages – and let’s just say I am glad I didn’t turn him down!
The Service Manager also made note to check on the table and give a little insight into what the hotel is all about. Oh, and I ate the most well-prepared, flavorful steak I’ve had in The Triangle at the on-site restaurant. Enough said.
5. Customer service is not an afterthought
This is one hospitality aspect that can make or break any experience. Good customer service is not being over-the-top grandiose or not making a single error but more about a mutual respect for the customer. Unfortunately, the customer is not always as pleasant, but if the staff at the establishment make quality comfort and convenience a reality, they’ve done right by the guests. The JB Duke Hotel did right by this guest.
6. The proximity to local attractions plays up the convenience aspect
While I thoroughly enjoyed lounging in my suite on the comfy couch or walking the outdoor trails, it’s highly recommended to round out the staycation (or just a vacation for out-of-towners) with some local offerings. It took no more than 10-15 minutes to go anywhere in downtown Durham, including the Durham Farmer’s Market.
7. Duke’s Campus has all the action
Of course, Duke University also offers its share of visit-worthy attractions within five minutes walking distance of the hotel, including the Duke University Golf Club, Cameron Indoor Stadium (Home of the Blue Devils Basketball team), Brooks Field Wallace Wade Stadium (Football), Duke University Chapel, the Nasher Museum of Art and of course one of the most popular year-round attractions in the entire region; the picturesque Sarah P. Duke Botanical Gardens.
The JB Duke Hotel is where you go to enjoy the details. It is this attention to each aspect of the stay, from an onsite parking garage to charging your phone if you forgot a cord, that provides the convenience factor of home that would make any visit a truly comfortable one.
The hotel also offers complimentary transportation to all Duke University campus locations, the Duke Medical Center as well as the popular Ninth Street district.
So what are your favorite places to visit on Duke’s campus? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at FB.com/919Blog and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.
This post was created in collaboration with the Downtown Durham Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Melissa Kahan for exclusive digital publication via TBN