If you’re looking for a special hotel stay while scoping out Duke University or while visiting a student there, the top choice is historic King’s Daughters Inn. This immaculate hotel goes way beyond your usual bed and breakfast and each suite is decorated with great care.
The main house dates back to 1925 and an annex was added in 1957. No king lived here: the name refers to a charitable organization that had branches in multiple cities: The King’s Son’s and Daughters Foundation provided assistance and education for older, single women. The facility thrived until the advent of nursing homes and closed in the early 2000s. Colin and Deanna Crossman bought the property and after two years of work, opened the upscale bed and breakfast in April of 2009.
All rooms have their own bath and are loaded with character, so if you can, book well in advance in order to choose the perfect one for your stay. What they have in common is a wall-mounted cable TV, bath equipped with fine toiletries, and very comfortable beds with pillow top memory foam mattresses and an array of pillows. Fast Wi-Fi is complimentary and there’s turndown service each night with a small glass of port and a chocolate. Most rooms have some kind of sitting area.
The three smallest rooms have a queen bed and are shower-only. Going up from there, rooms have a king bed and a combination shower, plus a bit more space. If available, it’s worth the modest upgrade to one of the suites, with a separate sitting area and room to spread out. The top choice is the Trinity Suite, with a park view and a whirlpool tub.
There are nice surprises around every corner here, with carefully chosen antiques, fresh flowers, and a mural depicting the high life in the 1920s adorning one hallway. An afternoon tea service heightens the sense that this is a special place to savor.
A continental breakfast spread is next to the dining room, with fresh-baked goodies, yogurt, fruit, a wide tea selection, and good coffee. Then you can also get eggs to order and sausage or bacon. At night there’s an honor bar to serve yourself a nightcap.
The inn is across from the Duke University east campus and there’s a jogging/walking path right across the street that you can use to get some exercise. A 15- or 20-minute walk will also get you to most of the restaurants, bars, and brewpubs in Durham, of which there are plenty to explore. If you’re packing light, you could also walk to the Amtrak train station. Nearby is Duke Forest, with 30 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.
This is one of the “greenest” inns you’ll find in the USA, with every aspect of the rebuild and operation meant to conserve resources in ways that most guests won’t even notice. It goes beyond LED light bulbs and recycling to a 10,000 gallon rain cistern for irrigating plants, grey water recycling of laundry water for flushing the toilets and pervious concrete that lets water soak through into the ground. As you’d probably expect, they source as much as they can locally for the restaurant and use native plants for landscaping.
Regular rooms at the King’s Daughters Inn start at $210, while the suites start at $315. Naturally you’ll pay more and will need to book far ahead if it’s homecoming, graduation, or some other special time at Duke University. See more information at the King’s Daughters website and you can also find it listed at Expedia or Travelocity.
Article and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at the inn for purposes of review.