Unscripted is one of our Premium partners for Durham, so we headed over there to get the DL on how to have the best experience possible. Whether you're Premium or not, read on to learn why it’s awesome, what dishes not to miss, and pro tips for making the most of your time.
Not in Premium (or not even sure what we're talking about)? Learn more here about this monthly subscription for exploring your city (or ask one of your Premium friends for a referral to score your first month free!).
After over $19 million in renovations, the iconic Jack Tar Motor Lodge in downtown Durham has been transformed into the Unscripted Hotel. With mid-century architecture in tact, Unscripted playfully blends vintage vibes with luxurious modern touches. Boasting over 70 stylish rooms, a badass rooftop pool and lounge, and gorgeous sunset views (plus a coffee shop, bars, and restaurants), Unscripted isn’t just a hotel to recommend to out-of-towners. It’s a new DTD staple—and for good reason.
We won’t beat around the bush here: Unscripted’s rooftop, The Patio, is a par-tay and an absolute summer MUST. It’s a bustling spot with serious style (think old school Vegas or 1960s LA, but with a tongue in cheek twist) open to everyone 21+. Their mantra is simple: have fun. Noted. We can *definitely* do that.
Now, Unscripted could coast on the fact that they’re the only pool party in town, or that they’re just one of the few spots offering a stunning rooftop view—but they don’t. Nope, these guys just keep one-upping themselves with special events, live music, epically oversized cocktails, an award-winning French chef, and more. No wonder it’s a favorite watering hole (both literally and figuratively) for locals.
*ps: want to see what’s up next at Unscripted? Click here for their calendar of upcoming events*
If poolside vibes aren’t your jam (or if they weather’s gross), the ground floor of the hotel’s also got a bangin’ setup. Rocking a graffiti mural and more modernist look, “The Studio,” as it’s called, is also a solid hangout. There’s a full bar, additional food options and a craft coffee bar. During the day, it’s a comfy spot to grab a cup of joe and get some work done. And while it’s generally pretty relaxed, be warned/excited that the space transforms into a dance club on Friday and Saturday nights.
It’s nearly impossible to visit the rooftop and not feel the urge to pound a drink (or two) on their gorg patio. So we’re going to start there. These drinks are too cool to pass up.
Their most popular drink—by far—is their homemade Fresh Fruit Frosé (duh, it’s summer and 2019). Other favorites include the Summer Buzz which is crafted with Durham-made honey, and The Tiki, which comes in a nearly-neon tiki cup (of course). You can buy wine by the literal bucketful, and they’ve even got an exclusive Fullsteam lager, made specifically for them. If you’re not a drinker, these bartenders are pros at Mocktail-making. Just ask.
They also feature MASSIVE shareable cocktails that are both photo-worthy, and delicious (ok, and dangerous if you don’t share it with enough people). Get Whitney’s Mule if you’re looking for something with a kick, or the Island Hopper if you’re looking for something sweeter that also happens to have *edible glitter* (!) in it.
Being smack-dab in the middle of a foodie city, Unscripted gets held to a pretty high standard— but you better believe they deliver. Their Head Chef is L-E-G-I-T (he’s cooked for Prince Charles, William, and Harry, if that helps give you a sense of his pedigree) and his eclectic menu has lots of tasty shareables, perfect for nibbling poolside.
The most popular items include Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and Lettuce Wraps made with chicken, julienned veggies, and a soy-mirin glaze. We’re big fans of the Lobster Roll Sliders, which feature blackened remoulade and a heaping portion of sweet, succulent lobster. We’ll also personally attest to the fact that the Perfect Guac lives up to its name
If you’re looking for something larger, their Patio Burger is a go-to choice for hungry carnivores. And with two types of cheese, balsamic onions, and sugar bacon, it’s easy to see why. But don’t fret veggie friends: they’ve also offer the Beyond Burger, which is totally vegan (and totally delish).
The staff’s fave? That’d be the Wagu Beef Hotdog. It’s a major upgrade from Hebrew National, and so fancy that it demands to be eaten with a knife and fork.
The downstairs menu offers somewhat different items (homemade quiche, breakfast sammies, etc.), but you can order anything anywhere. Among other notable items, The Studio and All-Day Cafe features a more extensive wine list and a full-service espresso bar. They’ve also got a croque monsieur, the Mister Crunch, which, according to their team, will “knock you flat to the floor but you’ll go down with a smile on your face.” Quite the sales pitch if we do say so ourselves.
Mark your calendars for these poppin’ patio parties, happening weekly:
Thursday: live band, 7-9p
Friday: “Night Swim,” featuring local DJs, 6-11p
Saturday: “Make Waves Not War,” day party, 12-5p
Sunday: local DJ spinning (often reggae), 12-5p
If you’d rather hang indoors, check out these weekly events downstairs at The Studio:
First + Third Sunday: Open Mic, 7-9p
Second + Fourth Sunday: Karaoke, 7-9p
Feel like a staycation? They offer a “locals only” discount.
Your cheapest and best bet for parking? The municipal lot around the corner from the hotel. It’s $1.25/hr until 7p, and totally free on weekends.
The hotel is pet-friendly everywhere except for the patio.
The patio opens at 11a and does fill up—get there early if you want a good spot.
Remember, the Patio is 21+ unless you are a hotel guest, in which case you’re welcome to hang until 8p.
This summer, they unveiled semi-private cabanas that you can rent. There is a food and beverage minimum, but if you’re rolling with a sizeable crew, it’s not hard to hit. Call them to reserve: (984) 329-9500.