A girls weekend in Durham is easier than you think. Keep it low key, grab your besties, and check in to the Durham Hotel. Here’s how we celebrated the 40th birthday in one of my girls groups!
Gather the Girls
I met a group of lovely ladies through the blogging scene in Raleigh when I lived there. But I moved five years ago and you know how it goes. You say you’ll keep in touch. You like each other’s Facebook pictures for a while and then you gradually drift apart. And you move on.
Melissa, Erin, Andrea, and I have refused to let that happen. It helps that we all eat, sleep, and drink social media and stay in touch constantly. And we make it a point to see each other at least once a year. In May this year, I got to have my annual reunion with my girls at the Mom 2.0 Summit, where we usually split a gorgeous room at the Ritz-Carlton (or other equally as luxurious hotel) and have late night chats in between conference session.
This year, we decided that it might be nice to just get together without the pretense of work and just hang out. Just talk and do all of the things that girls do on a girls night out. With Melissa’s big 4-0 in November, we thought that was as perfect an excuse as any to finally have our get together.
The only problem? They all live in Raleigh and I live in Baltimore. But hey, it’s only a short plane ride away so I decided to head down south for a girls overnight in nearby Durham, NC.
But having the perfect Girls Weekend Getaway requires a little work, but not too much. There are just a few key tasks to cover and how we took care of each of them.
Find the perfect hotel
I was relying on my girls to tell me where they wanted to stay and they picked the lovely mid-century, modern hotel, The Durham Hotel, in a revitalized section of downtown Durham. I reached out to The Durham Hotel who told me they’d love to host our girls weekend in Durham!
We didn’t need much. A single room with two beds (cuz that’s how we roll) and a place for food and drinks. And The Durham Hotel was perfectly situated in an area full of quaint bars and eateries if we wanted to venture out.
As for the hotel itself, it felt like I was staying in a hipster hotel. I could check all the boxes.
- Designed by Los Angeles-based firm Commune to be warm and residential
- Each bed covered with handmade blankets from Raleigh Denim
- Original floor-to-ceiling windows
- Bath products from Red Flower
- Custom wooden desk
- Original artwork
- Counter Culture Coffee service
In addition to the room being exactly what we wanted, we were in love with the amazing lobby space that served as a lounge/coffer bar during the day and an amazing restaurant at night (more on that).
The Durham Hotel was the perfect homebase as we set out for the only way I can think to start a Girls Weekend.
Even if you’re the type who always takes the time to pamper yourself (God love you for it), pamper yourself again because it’s different when you’re doing it with girlfriends. Melissa had heard about this giant salon called The Nail Stop. One of her friends from New York insists that this is the only place in NC she’ll get her nails done.
Good enough endorsement for me. So we all scheduled manicures or pedicures (or both!) because we were pampering ourselves after all.
The salon even served cocktails but we decided to wait until we ate. Which is what came next! We dolled ourselves up and prepared ourselves for a night of indulgent eating and drinking.
Eat the best food
Can you really get four women to agree on food? Probably not so we made sure we covered all of our bases.
Since we were celebrating Melissa’s 40th birthday, we had to have cake. But instead of cake, I wanted some amazing cupcakes. On my way from the airport to the hotel, I ventured into a local cupcake shop I had found online, Smallcakes, and purchased a bottle of champagne at a wine store next door. That was how we planned to end our evening.
To start our evening, we headed down to the lobby which had been transformed into The Restaurant at The Durham. The hotel generously provided us our first round of drinks and an appetizer so we made sure we started the evening off right. And by right, I mean with a Dirty Vodka Martini.
We nibbled on a Relish Tray, compliments of The Durham, and ordered a round of amazing side dishes and appetizers, including a cheese board. We made our own little tapas party!
We could have ended there. In fact, I probably would have normally ended there. But these girls were ready to get out, which is what we did.
Venture out – safely
The location of The Durham Hotel was perfect. In a few small blocks surrounding the area, there were tons of restaurants, pubs, clubs, and bars. We walked around to get the lay of the land and find a place that just felt right.
We ended up at a crowded, hipster-type place, ordered a drink while feeling generally ignored, and decided to move on.
After the walking, waiting, and drinking, we were ready for our last stop of the night which, of course, had to include either french fries or pizza. And we chose…
Not just pizza. That wood-fired pizza from Pizzeria Toro. Maybe it was the wine but I could have sworn that was some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. I don’t even remember what it was. Some sort of white pizza, maybe with mushrooms, and a handful of arugula on top (my special request).
It was so good we ordered another and raised a glass to having a weekend together with no agenda other that enjoying each other’s company.
After this, we went back to the hotel, poured a glass of champagne, took one sip, and all fell asleep. I think we may have shoveled some cupcakes down before drifting off.
But the last step is an important one that should never be overlooking if you want to have an amazing girls weekend.
Have a plan for the morning after
If you’ve had a good night, chances are some of you may not have a good morning. You need to be ready for that. Our plan involved caffeine and food.
At The Durham, they don’t leave little packets or cups of coffee in the room. Instead, they ask that you put your coffee and tea requests on a hang tag outside your door. In the morning, you’re delivered a nice tray of freshly ground coffee and all the accoutrements for starting the day right (I’m the oddball – the tea is mine).
(Don’t tell anyone but you can see me in my morning after jammies in the reflection at the top of the teapot.)
As for food, Melissa had already picked out her breakfast spot. It’s another hipster place nearby called Guglhupf, a German inspired artisan bakery and cafe. (It’s actually pronounced Google-hoff and I kept thinking Melissa was talking about blogging somehow).
Doesn’t it look hipster? I never realized how artisanal Durham can be. Regardless, I quite enjoyed my Eggs Arnold, a vegetarian version of Eggs Benedict. And we all need a little protein the morning after a girls night out.
Parting is such sweet sorrow
Normally, goodbyes might be long and painful. But I know I’ll see everyone again in May for a repeat performance in Orlando. And for the three of them, they were simply driving home after a fun night out. For me, I had hours to kill before my flight. We said goodbyes and I hopped into my rental car to catch up with other old friends in my former hometown.
If you’re thinking about a girls weekend or even a girls night out, consider spending time in downtown Durham and check out The Durham Hotel. Maybe you’ll make it up to the rooftop bar (we never did!).
Thanks to The Durham Hotel for providing us one night’s accommodation as well as food and drink at The Restaurant at The Durham for our girts weekend in Durham.