Boutique Hotel Unscripted Durham Opens Downtown

Boutique Hotel Unscripted Durham Opens Downtown

The former Jack Tar Motor Lodge is now Unscripted Durham, offering a fresh take on mid-century themes paired with modern amenities


Noticeably absent from the lobby of Unscripted Durham: a front desk.

“We wanted to focus on getting rid of that barrier that separates the guest from the employee in order to really make it a personal interaction,” says Brian Hansen, Unscripted’s general manager. “You walk into the hotel through either entrance [there’s one street-side on Parrish, or through the hotel’s parking garage on Corcoran], and you’re going to be immediately greeted by either a bellman or front desk agent, who will have an iPad that checks you into the hotel. We’ll get you all set up and ready to go. And while we’re doing that, we can mingle in the space, get you a cup of coffee or a glass of wine – whatever your preference – and tell you about the hotel.”

Austin Lawrence Partners Developer Jane Hills and Unscripted Durham General Manager Brian Hansen in “The Studio,” which features a large mural by graffiti artist Jose “Prime” Reza, a close friend of Jane’s.
One of the tile designs original to the building.

The newest lifestyle hotel brand from Dream Hotel Group, Durham’s is the first location of Unscripted Hotels, set to open doors July 19. Formerly the Jack Tar Motor Lodge, the project has been in the works for the better part of two years, and the massive renovation has transformed much of the motel into a heightened version of its former self. The past meets the present with graffiti murals, fun geometric patterns in the guest rooms, art pieces produced by locals, clean lines and bright colors that highlight mid-century modern design against a backdrop of historically preserved aspects, from the original tile on the walls of each elevator bay (same original elevators from 1962, too) to the railings to the bright turquoise paint that’s been restored to a vibrant luster. Even the rooftop pool remains, though its orientation and size has been altered.

The Patio, which is open to the public.

“It used to be turned the other way, and it was probably 20% larger,” says Jane Hills, the developer with Austin Lawrence Partners. “We had to keep the majority of it in the same footprint” for historic preservation purposes. There’s now more space for dining and live entertainment, which will be a regular occurrence. Each poolside chair is tabled, ideal for grabbing a drink and some snacks while lounging on the deck, which can be rented out for private events or celebrations. “The Patio,” as it’s referred to, is open to the public as well.

“We want the city to really feel included in the hotel and our amenities,” Brian says.

That includes “The Studio” in the lobby, with its custom cocktails and a lounge area made for socializing – planned events include album listening sessions, art classes, DJ sets and mixers; “allday,” a coffee bar and marketplace, easy to grab a quick breakfast, snack or dinner, or a bottle of wine on your way home; and the onsite restaurants Pour Taproom (now open), Jack Tar Diner and Neomonde (both are looking at opening dates in either late October or November).

The 74 guest room types include doubles, queen, king and suites, and offer either a city or pool side view. Apart from the cozy beds with down comforters and pillows, and complimentary WiFi, each room features a Smart LED HD TV with secure streaming capabilities. “There are only two hotels in the country that do it,” Brian says. The other is in Vegas.

Experience Unscripted for yourself by taking advantage of the hotel’s staycation package, which includes 10 percent off a room, free parking and late check-out. Just use the promo code LOCALS when booking. Use the code OPENING when making a reservation to enjoy 10 percent off room bookings, as well as two complimentary drinks at The Patio, bike rentals for two and late check-out. Stay up to date by following the hotel’s blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Amanda MacLaren
Amanda MacLaren is the executive editor of Durham Magazine. Born in Mesa, Ariz., she grew up in Charlotte and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism. She’s lived in Durham for seven years. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her with a beer in hand at Fullsteam, Dain’s Place or Bull City Burger or getting takeout from Guasaca.