Guests are set to feel anything but blue about the new Hotel Indigo.
Work is almost complete on the transformation of the Old Shire Hall in Old Elvet, Durham City, into a £15m boutique hotel and Marco Pierre White Steakhouse.
After months of construction, Sunderland-based Brims Construction is preparing to hand over the landmark Victorian building in time for a spring opening date, creating around 60 new jobs.
After lying derelict for around six years, the original County Hall which had more recently been used as administration offices by Durham University, will now house 83 bedrooms, a restaurant, bar and coffee house called Tinderbox Espresso Emporium.
Sales and marketing manager Luke Balcombe, from management company Intestate Hotels & Resorts, says the heritage of the building, which dates back to 1896, was carefully incorporated into the design.
He said: “Hotel Indigo like to include the heritage of the sites and the story of the neighbourhood into their hotels. The rooms all have a theme that’s either collegiate, cathedral or university, and there’s a lot of detail that’s gone into each, right down to the colours of a Durham University tie being used in the carpet.”
Many of the original features also remain, such as Edwardian glazed tiling from 1905, marble columns and stained glass windows, right down to an old safe which now forms part of a desk in the coffee shop.
Since construction work began last summer there’s been much interest from members of the public who remember visiting and working in the building in its previous guises.
Luke said: “There’s been so much interest from people who are really keen to see what it looks like now. A lot of people have so many memories of the building. A guy from the university visited and says he remembers when one of the bedrooms was the chancellor’s office. He says it struck fear in him because he only ever got called in there when he was in trouble.”
Non-residents will also be welcome at the hotel, which, as well as the steakhouse, will have a bar serving cocktails and craft beers. The coffee shop, meanwhile, will have its own entrance off the main street.
Luke said: “We wanted to keep the coffee shop really accessible to people so they can just pop in for a coffee. There’s a lot of footfall in this area of the city but this helps to open it up even more.”