Thomas Wright House (https://thomaswrighthouse.com) is a luxury hotel and restaurant situated in Byers Green, a quaint little village within a ten minute drive of the historic city of Durham. Durham and the surrounding area has always held a special place in my heart since Durham University is where I gained my degree. I absolutely love finding new hidden gems like Thomas Wright House as we visit the area often to visit family.
Our room in Thomas Wright House was truly stunning; the pièce de résistance was the large hot tub where my partner Richard and I could relax and sip prosecco. There was even a wall-mounted TV within easy viewing of the jacuzzi so you could catch up on the latest television or even just listen to some music. The whole hotel had a really high-quality finish to the decor and furnishings and you could tell that the friendly staff were highly passionate about making our stay special. The breakfast on both mornings of our stay was plentiful and delicious.
Overall, I managed to get around the hotel easily in my standard sized manual wheelchair but larger mobility scooters may have struggled slightly. As always, I’ve filled this review with many photos so you can analyse this amazing hotel yourself and check whether it is fully suitable for your access requirements.
Thomas Wright House was easy to find using SatNav and Richard and I loved stumbling upon this calm oasis in the middle of what is otherwise a conventional housing area. The car park was highly generous and contained a couple of Blue Badge disabled parking bays next to the entrance door. These were wide enough for our car and there was plenty of space for my wheelchair to travel around the vehicle.
The car park is also shared with a beauty treatments centre called ‘Hidden Beauty’. You could actually buy salon treatments through the hotel – if you fancy a set of festive nails then this is in the perfect location to treat yourself!
The front entrance to the hotel included a small ramp and I found it easy to propel my manual wheelchair over this and through the entrance doors. We were visiting in December so we were greeted by a gorgeous Christmas tree adorned with colourful baubles and fairy lights. It was a really nice surprise to go from the freezing winter weather and into this warm, friendly building.
From the central entrance corridor you could turn right into and go through a level-access door into the bar and restaurant area (more details on this later) or turn left into the Reception. We were checking in to the hotel so we turned left and went up the small ramped access into Reception. We had an extremely long day so we didn’t actually arrive at the hotel until 9pm. We had rung in advance to check that this was ok and the friendly lady assured us that she would be in the building at this time for the many large festive parties that were happening in the restaurant. This lady was called Sammy and she was so friendly and helpful throughout the check-in process and the night. The staff throughout our stay really shone with their exemplary customer service!
The check-in desk wasn’t lowered at any point but there was a central gate that was open so I could see Sammy and speak to her from the height of a wheelchair. We smoothly checked in and then wheeled on to our hotel room. Sammy was really helpful and carried one of our suitcases so Richard could push my wheelchair onwards.
The doorways and corridors throughout the hotel and restaurant area were wide enough for my manual wheelchair. I also entered and wheeled around the area in my powered chair which is a WHILL model C to give you an idea of the dimensions of the areas. This is a fairly compact powered chair so it might be worth asking in advance if you use a larger model. The only slight issue with the public areas of the hotel was that I couldn’t easily turn around in the width of the corridor but I can’t think of many situations that I would have to do this.
Our hotel room was called the Phoenix Suite and the first thing we noticed as we entered was the huge hot tub. This was shown on the Thomas Wright House website as a double spa bath but honestly I think you could easily fit four guests in the same hot tub if you were prepared to sit rather than lay fully down. Obviously though, this was a double room so Richard and I didn’t have guests join us.
The jacuzzi lit up with multicoloured, changeable lights and had two sets of controllable jet streams so you could decide how intense you wanted the bubble massage to be. Since the finish to the room had a really high quality, you definitely felt as if you were having an immersive spa experience. Plus, the hot tub only took 45 minutes to fill so you could get right into enjoying it after a long and tiring day! You filled the hot tub with hot or cold water yourself so you could adjust the heat to suit your mood.
Obviously, this jacuzzi was not adapted in any way so you would have to decide whether you could enter this yourself depending on the level of your mobility. I personally can be lifted in and out of a bath by my partner, Richard, so we had no problems with allowing me to enjoy this experience. There are no grab handles so please bear that in mind when deciding whether it would be safe for you to enter this hot tub.
Sammy arrived back at the room with our complimentary glass of prosecco so Richard and I sipped these while having a relaxing explore of the hotel room.
I loved that there was a wall-mounted TV that you could see from the jacuzzi. This meant that you could catch up on television you had missed, watch funny YouTube clips or even just play music on the radio TV channel or YouTube whilst having a soak in the jacuzzi. This was a really nice touch as it completed the relaxation experience and allowed you to switch off from the outside world.
Next to the large jacuzzi was a small set of chairs and a table. This was really useful as it gave us a space to sit in if we wanted to have a cup of tea in the morning. It was also the space where we ate our breakfasts in the mornings. The breakfast was room service only when we visited so your breakfast choices were delivered to your hotel room door and you ate at this table area. I actually loved this as it meant I didn’t have to contest with a crowded dining area early in the morning and it also allowed me to have a more relaxing, easy morning rather than having to be dressed with makeup on by 8.30am! More on the lovely breakfast later.
The Phoenix Suite seemed to have multiple levels as you had to go up a small ramp to go from the jacuzzi area to the bed and then up a small ramp again from the bed and into the bathroom. The ramps were smooth and I felt I could easily ascend to each area using them without Richard pushing my manual wheelchair. My compact powered wheelchair (the WHILL C) also managed each of these ramps very easily.
The bedroom continued to have a really high quality finish to it and it certainly made me feel like the room was luxurious and opulent. I loved the soft grey rug over the bed and the mirrored glass dressing table and side tables. There was a small fridge within the room so you could store any refrigerated medicine in this or even just pop a bottle of wine in there to have a glass while getting ready. The bar prices though were actually really reasonable so it would probably just be as easy to order from there!
The fridge included tea and coffee making facilities on the top, alongside some lovely biscuits. The staff at Reception replenished our tea bag supply really promptly when we asked them to (exploring Durham is thirsty work!).
There was a small area of storage space to one side of the bed so you could hang a few things up or store them in the wicker storage drawers. There wasn’t a huge wardrobe here but I don’t think you needed one in the compact space. The wall-mounted TV in this room was big enough to be seen easily from the bed but not so huge that it overpowered the room completely. I loved that there was a hanging ceiling light above the dressing table as that made it so much easier to pop my makeup on in a brighter light. I cannot tell you how many hotel rooms I’ve been to that have dim, poorly lit areas and I only realise how awful my makeup looks when I wheel outside! The heart-shaped mirror above the dressing table had a really cute design but it did make getting ready slightly hard as it wasn’t long enough to watch myself straightening the full length of my hair.
The only other slight problem with the room would vary widely depending on your mobility level. When we arrived, the space between the side of the bed and the wall was equally spaced so each side of the bed had equal room. Since this was very tight for my wheelchair, my abled partner, Richard, pushed the bed slightly further to one side so my manual wheelchair could fit all the way along the wall easily. If you were a more ambulatory wheelchair user or had a different form of disability than I have then this wouldn’t be a problem at all though! I am absolutely sure that the hotel would provide measurements for this if you were unsure and thinking of booking.
Other than the slightly tight area down the side of the bed and towards the dressing table, I found the bedroom area really easy to manoeuvre around in in both my self-propelled manual chair and my powered WHILL C. The finish was absolutely superb and you could tell that the hotel staff had utilised every single space within the room whilst also thinking about the guests’ needs whilst using it.
From the bedroom area, there was another small ramp to ascend to the bathroom. This was a slightly steeper incline than the other ramp and I did find this doable but tight until we pushed the fridge slightly to the right. If you’re travelling alone, I am sure the hotel staff would happily just push the fridge slightly over for you as it was an easy, quick movement and really improved my capability to whizz around the room. As I mentioned, I can’t sing the praises of the hotel staff enough as every single one was really friendly, happy to help and passionate about making your stay the best it could possibly be.
Since this room is not technically a wheelchair adapted room, there weren’t any grab rails when using the toilet. You would also be unable to do a full side transfer if you required this from your wheelchair. I can walk two steps so I didn’t find any problems using this bathroom so again it would depend on your personal mobility requirements.
The bathroom suite was again finished to a really high standard and there were some good quality shower products to be used during your stay. I loved that there was a walk-in shower available for mornings that you didn’t want to wait to fill up the jacuzzi or just fancied a shower. There was a very small lip of around 1 inch to go over as you entered the shower to prevent the water seeping out onto the bathroom floor. There were two shower heads at the top of the shower, one with a wider water fall and a smaller one for a more intense, stronger jet. You could switch between these as required.
Although the bathroom was not technically an adapted space, I could tell that Thomas Wright House had genuinely thought about users that might have additional mobility requirements. They could have fitted even more things into the space but then it would be impossible to navigate for guests like me.
There were a few nice “extras” in the room which were really nice. There were plastic wine glasses and a cooler beside the jacuzzi that you could use if you didn’t fancy risking glass in there. By the side of this were also a set of two soft dressing gown robes, disposable spa slippers and a hair dryer. This was a really important addition for me as it meant you could easily get out of the jacuzzi and into something comfy if you were having a breather from the heat or even needed to answer the door for room service.
A stack of magazines were provided for extra entertainment and there were also door hangers if you required your room cleaning or if you wanted the staff to give you additional assistance in the event of an evacuation. I loved this feature as it meant I would feel safe if travelling alone or if I had a hearing impairment and might therefore struggle to hear the fire alarm if it sounded. A great feature as it allowed you to choose whether you would require help rather than having to fill out a compulsory six page questionnaire as you’re checking in as some hotels require.
Richard and I pretty much crashed the first night that we arrived; we had had a really busy day and I don’t travel very well with my spinal cord nerve damage so we were both very tired. I found the room really easy to relax in though and the bed was very comfy so we both got a very good night of sleep. Richard holds the official title of “King of Moaning about Hotel Beds” but he also said how cosy the bed was and that he had slept really well!
The breakfast was rooms service only in the morning. I’m not sure if this is only in “low season” since we visited in December or whether this is usual. We actually loved that it was room service as it meant we could remain in our hotel room space, I didn’t have to worry about traversing around other half-asleep hotel guests when using my wheelchair and also I didn’t have to have my makeup fully completed for the day ahead. It also meant that we had a far more relaxing morning and didn’t have to be leaving the room for a set time.
You order your room service breakfast the evening before and can order from any time between 8.15-10 am. You can choose to order a complimentary glass of buck’s fizz alongside your breakfast and can also choose from fruit juice (orange/ apple), tea and coffee (cappuccino, americano, latte or filter) for your drinks. I loved that there was a huge array of breakfast options to choose from as there was truly something to please everyone and every dietary requirement. You could order items such as toast, fruit yogurts and cereal to begin with and then there was a wide selection of hot breakfast choices including pancakes, a traditional full english breakfast with a choice of egg, a vegetarian full english, eggs benedict, eggs royale, a smoked salmon and scrambled egg muffin and boiled Egg and soldiers to name a few! Honestly, I don’t know a single person that wouldn’t be thrilled with at least one of those options!
I loved that our breakfasts arrived on a little wooden trolley as it made the room service experience seem more lavish and grand. On the first morning at Thomas Wright House, we chose to have the buck’s fizz alongside apple juice, an americano and a cappuccino for us both to enjoy. I chose the pancakes because I have the ultimate sweet tooth and I wasn’t disappointed; the presentation was impeccable on the plate and there was plenty of food to fill you up. I got two large english pancakes with a little jug of sweet syrup and two small dishes of freshly cut strawberries and whole raspberries. The pancakes were tasty and crisp and I enjoyed these alongside the Muller Light Vanilla yoghurt that they had provided.
Richard is much more classic than I am when it comes to a treat breakfast so he ordered the traditional full english breakfast with a poached egg. There was a lot of food there but every single item was so tasty. The breakfast came with a silver dish of baked beans, a rasher of bacon, a large sausage, a hash brown, mushrooms, a grilled tomato and a slab of black pudding alongside whichever your choice of egg was. Richard said that he could really tell that Thomas Wright House had used high quality bacon and sausage as they full of flavour without swimming in fat or grease. The poached egg was cooked perfectly so it was soft on the outside and still had a slightly runny yolk centre. Richard was really impressed with the flavour palette of the breakfast.
We both enjoyed the relaxing experience of dining in our hotel room at a leisurely pace. It was great also because we started to fill the hot tub up while we dined so we had this filled when we had finished.
I have to be lifted in and out of anything that has high sides such as a bath or a hot tub but this experience was certainly worth the lift! There were two individual sets of jets that could be turned on and off. I loved this feature as I struggle with anything pressing on the nerve damage beside my spinal cord so I usually find hot tubs can be uncomfortable for longer periods. This one was absolutely ideal though as we could turn the set of jets off that come from the sides of the bath and only have the ones flowing that come from the base instead if my back needed a break.
It was so relaxing to be able to sit in the warm water with Christmas music playing on YouTube on the wall-mounted TV (if you’re reading this in July, we visited in December so Christmas music wasn’t completely weird at this time of year, I promise!). If you wanted to fully switch-off then you could have watched live TV or used the smart TV function to access apps like YouTube or BBC iPlayer.
We had had a really full-on day the day before so decided to not do too much during that central day. Instead, we had an explore around the hotel and surrounding area. We needed to pop to the local supermarket to grab a packed lunch for the next day when we would be checking out of the hotel. Having the fridge in the room was really handy for storing this alongside my refrigerated medication! We chose to visit the ASDA superstore that was only an 11 minute drive from the hotel. It had plentiful disabled parking spaces and was really easy for me to nip around in using my WHILL Model C powered wheelchair.
Although Byers Green is a small village, it has so many places on its doorstep. We travelled into Durham city centre a few times from the hotel and this was only 19 minutes. You can park up by the cathedral using your Blue Badge in Durham centre but have to pay a congestion charge of £2 if you choose to drive into the historic centre during certain hours (https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/3437/Durham-Road-User-Charge-Zone-congestion-charge).
There are actually plenty of other amazing things to do within commutable distance of Thomas Wright House in Byers Green. Their website gives a really handy guide about the places in the area (https://thomaswrighthouse.com/around-the-area/) or you can look back on my previous blog posts as I did a huge series on accessible places to visit in the North East during summer 2018 if you’d like to read my blog series to find wheelchair accessible or disabled friendly things to do and restaurants in the area.
We went out to an Indian restaurant called LeRaaj in Chester le Street when we stayed at Thomas Wright House but the restaurant in the hotel looked really nice also! The decor was very festive and this suited the rustic charm of the place. There was exposed stone walling and a large historic map of Durham as wallpaper on one of the walls. The bar looked well-stocked and the restaurant was really popular when we visited! There were big parties of people celebrating their Christmas parties and there were smaller groups who were having drinks or having their evening meal.
The pictures below were taken earlier in the day when the restaurant was much quieter but I wanted to just show you all how easy it was for me to wheel around in my wheelchair. There were plenty of large gaps between tables and, even when the restaurant was really busy in the evening, it left ample space for me to use either my manual chair or my powered WHILL C.
If you do decide to visit the restaurant then their menu is online (https://thomaswrighthouse.com/eat-with-us/). Another guest was telling us how delicious the afternoon tea was so that seems to come highly recommended!
Within a two minute wheel of the restaurant area, there is a spacious disabled toilet. This doesn’t require a RADAR key to open and is just around the corner from the male and female toilet blocks. The accessible toilet had plenty of grab rails throughout and I found it really easy to transfer onto the toilet. The red emergency pull cord fully reached the floor which I loved; it is my pet peeve when this is tied or looped up so the cord is much shorter as this means a disabled guest who has fallen to the ground then cannot reach it. This one was the perfect length!
The only thing that I would change about the layout of this room was that the sanitary bin was not within easy reach of the toilet. Otherwise, there were many hand rails and I found it really easy to spin my wheelchair around to exit the room facing outwards.
Following our evening out at the local Indian restaurant LeRaaj, Richard and I returned to the hotel for a relaxing evening. We ordered our room service breakfast for the next morning and had another very restful night of sleep.
We decided that we would order slightly different options for the next morning (variety is the spice of life, eh?!) so I chose the full english breakfast. I wanted a substantial meal that would allow us to be full whilst visiting Durham after we had checked out and this breakfast certainly filled me up! The quality of meat was definitely high as I could taste how flavoursome the sausage meat was. The presentation was as impeccable as the morning prior and I could tell why Richard had raved about this menu choice. I chose the scrambled egg and these were creamy, soft and well-seasoned to my flavour palette.
Richard chose a breakfast option that we hadn’t seen featured on menus for quite a while; the eggs royale. This was effectively eggs benedicite but with the addition of smoked salmon. There was a toasted english muffin at the base, topped with poached eggs, a layer of smoked salmon and buttery hollandaise sauce. The poached eggs at the centre were cooked perfectly to have a runny yolk centre but be soft and smooth on the exterior. Richard really enjoyed this meal choice and found the flavour combinations to work together extremely well.
Yet again, we had a wonderful breakfast at Thomas Wright House and there was plenty of tasty food on the wooden trolley for us to sample!
Overall, we had a truly memorable stay at Thomas Wright House. The location of the hotel was ideal to pop into Durham city centre or visit historic monuments such as the nearby Barnard Castle. I liked that the hotel wasn’t right in the centre of Durham as it meant there was a large, free car park with Blue Badge spaces and also that the hotel felt a bit like a calming oasis just outside of the city centre.
The hotel was finished to a really high standard throughout in terms of the designated the decor. Although the room was not technically a fully adapted disabled hotel room, I had no problem wheeling around it once Richard had slightly edged over the fridge and the bed. Have a look through the pictures to check if the hotel is suitable for your specific requirements or send an email to the hotel for some more accurate measurements. The staff were so friendly and welcoming throughout our stay that I am sure they would be happy to help!
The star of the show was certainly the large hot tub in our hotel room, the Phoenix Suite. It was spacious and had two sets of jets that could be turned on and off as required. I liked the colour-changing light under the water and that you could watch TV from the tub. The walk-in shower was a great addition if you wanted a quicker wash or if the tub would be difficult for your mobility requirements. There are other rooms available on the Thomas Wright site too (https://thomaswrighthouse.com/accommodation/) if you require a twin room, a family room or even if you want your hot tub to be outside on a private terrace!
The breakfast each morning was really flavoursome and there was ample choice for even the pickiest eater. I enjoyed the room service experience as it allowed us to have a more relaxing morning in amidst the December Christmas chaos!
We both genuinely loved our stay at Thomas Wright House and will definitely be returning at a later date!