DURHAM, N.C. — The wildly creative food and brew scene that reenergized this former tobacco town exploded so quickly, lodging couldn’t keep up. That’s finally changed with a trio of boutique hotels within a block of one another in the heart of downtown. The latest arrival, Unscripted Durham, which opened its doors in July, feels like the tireless teenager to its older-but-still-hip siblings, the art-loving 21c Museum Hotel Durham and scene-making The Durham Hotel.
The Unscripted, bathed in bright colors, even down to its graffiti-adorned parking garage, places the emphasis on fun. Sometimes I wanted to scream at the teen to “turn the music down!” but mostly I appreciated the energetic vibe.
While much of downtown’s renovated buildings were built in the earlier 20th century, the Unscripted sports a thoroughly midcentury modern façade of straight lines, long glass windows, stacked levels, and royal blue paint. It started in 1962 as the Jack Tar Motor Lodge, catering to the new car culture. Several decades later, it had fallen into disrepair, along with much of downtown. Now, the building, after a stunning $19.5 million restoration, is contributing to Durham’s turnaround.