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This impressive market town has existed since Saxon times and is known for its liberal, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Today, you can find a good mix of hotels in and around Darlington, from value-for-money contemporary accommodation to exquisite country retreats.
Probably the most popular attraction in Darlington is the Head of Steam, otherwise known as the Darlington Railway Museum. Here, you can learn about the history of the first steam-worked public railway, the Stockton & Darlington Railway, which opened in the 1820s, long before the national railway network was built. The site also exhibits several historic locomotives and houses numerous paintings, furniture and other memorabilia illustrating Darlington's industrial heritage.
Darlington also has an excellent civic theatre, and a vibrant restaurant scene where you can enjoy everything from delicious Italian cuisine to good old British flair and fragrant Chinese food.
One of the most popular places to stay in the town is the Mercure Darlington Kings Hotel, a coveted four-star venue that has a well-equipped business centre and immaculate WiFi-enabled rooms. Another acclaimed hotel is Rockcliffe Hall, a splendid five-star retreat with exquisite rooms and an outdoor and indoor pool.
Just 10-15 miles from hotels in Darlington, Raby Castle is an elegant 14th century building that is one of a small minority in County Durham to have special Grade I-Listed status. Have a slow stroll through its attractive grounds, then see the interior and learn about the castle's royal links and its role in the Rising of the North rebellion between Catholics and Queen Elizabeth I.
See the remnants of the Piercebridge Roman Bridge, which is estimated to date back to the 3rd Century AD and forms part of the remains of a Roman settlement. Darlington also has good road and rail links to the picturesque market town of Bishop Auckland, which is approximately half an hour away. See its beautiful town hall, then for a dip even further back into Durham's past head for the impressive Auckland Castle, which has stood for more than eight centuries.