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The Lake District

Photo of The Lake District

About The Lake District

The Lake District is the UK’s largest national park, but it looms large in the nation’s psyche as well as on its maps. Wordsworth waxed lyrical about it, but he’s certainly not the only one to think it’s the most sublime landscape in these isles. For centuries writers, artists and everyone who loves a good old walk in the great outdoors has dreamed of this place - there may be nowhere better to lose oneself in nature’s majesty and be inspired by it.

The Lake District offers one epic view after another, so the majority of our Guru’s recommendations for the best places to stay in the Lake District have incredible views. Some of the older farmhouse conversions only have small windows, which is a shame, but these properties make up for it with charming features. Our Gurus have sourced great hotel restaurants, some wonderful walkers paradises, luxurious grand dames as old as the hills but still offering impeccable service, and even a collection of properties with private hot tubs.

Windermere and Ambleside are two of the main centres for visitors, both on Windermere, while Bowness-on-Windermere is in the middle of the lake. Keswick is a popular centre in the northern lakes, it’s right on the shore of Derwent Water. There are also numerous smaller pretty villages and hamlets. And out Gurus have found some great properties outside of town for those of you looking for total escape.

The Lake District’s popularity means that choosing the best places to stay in the Lake District can be a challenge. There are some really old properties here, and not all of them are the ‘right’ kind of really old. So getting some good advice will definitely save you time, and possibly a regrettable reservation.

Our Lake District Collections

Each of the Lake District’s 16 lakes has its own charms, and green fells - or mountains, lush woodlands and numerous tarns are arranged picturesquely between them, along with several ‘waters’. This region has long been popular with hillwalkers and there’s an exceptional network of trails and marked routes. Scafell Pike is the highest, and some of the busiest trails, but some of the smaller fells are actually more rewarding to hike up and have better views from the top.

As well as going up fells and down dales, it’s also a good idea to get out on the water and to shelter from the changeable weather in a cosy pub or two. There are also a couple of very charming scenic railways and a collection of beautiful gardens, houses, stately homes and museums to uncover.

What not to Miss

  • Take a cruise on Lake Windermere, the region's largest lake.
  • Visit Wordsworth's home in Grasmere and Beatrix Potter's house at Hill Top
  • Delicious food. The Lake District is a wonderful location for foodies who shouldn't miss out on a meal at either the Drunken Duck Inn for superb gastropub cuisine, or the Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, if Michelin starred fine dining is more your thing.
  • The Keswick Museum has now reopened after a long refurb. It offers a wide range of collections from ancient archaeological finds to explanations about the industrialisation of the area.
  • Enjoy a spot of star-gazing at the Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre. It's a renowned "Dark Sky Discovery Site" and offers stunning night time vistas.

Don't forget that this region is extremely busy year round (but especially during the summer and school holidays), so if you want to guarantee a room in one of the best places to stay in the Lake District, get organised and book well ahead.

The Best Places to Stay in the Lake District

For the Best Views

  • Windermere’s The Samling Hotel is a charming, peaceful hotel set on a hill and offering spectacular views from all but one of its eleven rooms. Michelin starred chefs prepare the food and prepare it beautifully.
  • New House Farm is a four hundred year old farmhouse in a remote part of the Lake District near Cockermouth. The panoramic views take in the Lakeland Fells and in the foreground are 15 acres of gardens. Inside there are just five rooms and some beautiful original features.
  • The Holbeck Ghyll Hotel is a 23 room former hunting lodge with classically styled rooms and spectacular views over Lake Windermere. Two of its suites, the Miss Potter and the Ghyll Side Cottage, have private hot tubs. And there’s a very nice spa and a Michelin starred restaurant. So prepare for a treat!
  • Last but not least Sharrow Bay prides itself on the quality of its food and some claim that it’s the place where Sticky Toffee Pudding was invented. Situated on the shores of Lake Ullswater, what was once a fisherman’s lodge has been converted to a traditional yet stylish country house hotel.

For Walkers

  • The Howtown Hotel is a wonderfully old-fashioned, 13 room hotel much loved by walkers and people who want to escape the presence of TVs wifi and a phone signal. The lakeside setting is tranquil the views over Ullswater are incredible and the food is hearty. So hopefully you can really relax.
  • Nanny Brow is a relaxed B&B just five minutes walk from Lake Windermere. The decor is wonderfully Arts & Crafts, which helps make it a memorable place to stay. Nanny Brow has 11 vast rooms with views up the Langdale Valley, and a bar and terrace.
  • Eltermere Inn is an elegant Georgian country house turned 12 room hotel. The decor is traditional: think high ceilings and roll top baths, and the restaurant offers a hearty, locally sourced menu.
  • The Pheasant Inn will also suit keen walkers. Located close to Bassenthwaite in the less touristy north Lakes area, it has Sale Fell on the doorstep and is only 10 minutes from the Skiddaw range. Bedrooms are tasteful yet essentially traditional and all have been enlarged and modernised over the past few years. You’ll also get great food here and if you can summon up the energy, there’s free access to a private local spa with swimming pool

The Most Romantic Places to Stay in the Lake District

  • Linthwaite House Hotel is a beautiful Edwardian country house turned slick design-ish hotel with 30 comfortable rooms and an award-winning restaurant. Its location, on a hilltop overlooking Lake Windermere and the Fells is idyllic. Perfect for walkers and fisher-folk.
  • The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House has private, cedar wood hot tubs in six of the suites, plus their own private gardens. The rest of the 25 odd rooms also share the luxurious spa and pool. The sprawling, 40 acre gardens are stunning and have their own private lake, with a lake house where you can find some of the suites.
  • Randy Pike is a three room boutique hotel not far from the shores of Lake Windermere, but far enough to feel very private. Once a hunting lodge, this property has plenty of charm and character, plus superb views.
  • Applegarth Villa is an adults-only boutique bolthole in Windermere with 22 designer bedrooms. Each of the seven suites has its own outdoor hot tub, plus sumptuous details. There’s a relaxed restaurant, plus a cocktail bar with a huge collection of whiskeys.
  • The Grange Hotel in Grange-over-Sands is a wonderfully genteel Victorian hotel with 50 rather ornate rooms, beautifully manicured gardens and a jacuzzi, extensive spa and indoor pool. There’s also a fabulous restaurant.

The Best Lake District Escapes

  • The Lodore Falls Hotel is an impressive county house with a gorgeous mountain backdrop and 71 charming rooms and suites. The decor is traditional and there’s an award-winning restaurant, and it’s all set on 40 acres of picturesque Lake District countryside. Think long walks and open fires.
  • Hillthwaite is a contemporary, 34 room hotel in a commanding, hilltop position with spectacular views of the Cumbrian countryside. You’re close to Windermere, but far enough away to feel like you’re escaping. There’s an indoor pool and spa if you need some pampering as well.
  • The Moss Grove Organic Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the lake district, surrounded by peaceful hills. It aims to be as environmentally sustainable as possible and offers guests 11 relaxed rooms and a Mediterranean style buffet restaurant.

For Families

  • The Ryebeck is a comfortable country house hotel in a peaceful spot overlooking Lake Windermere. Relaxed and informal, there’s an excellent restaurant serving modern British cuisine.
  • The Waterhead Hotel is a stylish bolthole on the lake in Coniston, with 41 sleep, airy rooms and a lively bistro-style restaurant. There’s loads to do here, but if you run out of ideas there’s also free access to a nearby leisure centre.

For great value

  • The Punch Bowl Inn in the Lyth Valley is a quaint, 18th century inn in a pretty village. Each of the nine rooms has sweeping valley views and there’s an innovative chef running the restaurant. This is a wonderful spot for walkers, with the added pleasure of being able to come back to his and hers bathtubs and a candlelit supper.
  • The Wasdale Head Inn is a a well known climber’s hotel, located just below Scafell Pike. The views are incredible, there’s hearty pub food and 12 simple, but comfortable rooms, starting from around £60 a night.
  • The Drunken Duck Inn is nestled into the Southern Lowland Fells in the pretty village of Ambleside. Dating from the 18th century, this property is now one of the Lake District’s best known gastro pubs, and has decor and gardens which look like something out of a ‘Country Living’ spread. There are 17 rooms starting from around £105 per night.

The Best Pubs with Rooms

  • The Queen’s Head is a traditional country in just outside Windermere. The atmosphere is smart but relaxed and the decor includes both original features and modern craftsmanship. There are 12 stylish bedrooms and the food is generously proportioned too.
  • If you’re into hill walking you might already have heard of the Wasdale Head Inn, spectacularly located just below Scafell Pike. The views are stunning, and the hearty pub fare is good, but the offerings in the wood-panelled dining room are better. There are 12 simple, comfortable rooms starting from around £60 per night.

For a Self-Catering Apartment or Cottage

  • If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private cottage we recommend you visit our online partner, booking.com.

Travel Information

  • Manchester Airport is the closest airport to the Lake District. It’s linked to most major domestic airports, including London, Edinburgh and Bristol. Windermere and Kendal are also linked by train to London via Oxenholme. Once inside the park there are no trains - except those on several scenic railway lines, so you’ll either need a car or to catch the bus or use the ferry.
  • If you want to hire a car - which we strongly adivise if you’re staying in the Lake District - we recommend you visit our online partner, Holiday Autos.
  • Late spring and summer are the most popular times to visit the Lake District. This is when there’s the most on and there’s the least chance of rain. But if you’d prefer to have the lakes to yourself and you don’t mind wrapping up against the possible elements then autumn is incredibly beautiful too.

Still not sure which to book?

Best Hotels in The Lake District

  • Wasdale Head Inn 12 rooms from $77

    near Gosforth, Cumbria

    Famous climbing inn at the head of Wasdale, spectacularly sited below Scafell Pike with magnificent views. Satisfy your stomach with hearty pub food or enjoy the finer things in the wood-panelled Dining Room. Rooms are simple but extremely comfortable and all boast breathtaking views.

    Great walks  -  Miles from anywhere, this Inn has some of the most unspoilt walking in England.
    Views  -  All bedrooms have stunning views of Wasdale
    Climbing  -  At the foot of England's highest mountain
    Sights nearby  -  The Smallest Church in England, St Olaf's at Wasdale Head.
    Check prices
  • Punch Bowl Inn, Cumbria 9 rooms from $137

    Lyth Valley, Cumbria

    Quaint 18th Century Inn, ideally situated in a Lake District village with sweeping valley views. Plush boutique styling throughout, rooms exude comfort and indulge in modern bathrooms. Popular lunch food for locals and great dinner menu. Good base for local exploring but a car is needed.

    Romantic Break  -  Ideal for a romantic weekend away, with his and hers tubs, candlelite dinners and sweeping views of the countryside.
    Active Holiday  -  Some of the best walking in the British Isles is right on your doorstep, be sure to bring your hiking boots!
    Foodies  -  Chef Scott Fairweather never fails to impress, with local ingrediants and inventive combinations.
    Great walks  -  With something for every level of comitment, from full day hikes to an afternoon stroll.
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays
    Check prices
  • Moss Grove Organic Hotel 11 rooms from $148

    Cumbria, The Lake District

    In the heart of pretty Grasmere village, this eco-friendly B&B offers a relaxed welcome, generous bedrooms, strong use of natural furnishings and Mediterranean-style, brunch breakfasts.

    Sights nearby  -  Lake District Tour from Windermere
    Local markets  -  Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread Shop
    Cycling  -  The Cyclist's Coast to Coast
    Great walks  -  Coast to Coast Guided Walk
    Check prices
  • L’Enclume 16 rooms from $168

    Cumbria, The Lake District

    Michelin-starred, restaurant-with-rooms with a low-key, relaxed style in a pretty village setting. Creative, locally sourced food and simple but smart rooms that together add up to a wonderfully refreshing and easy-going atmosphere. Cosy suites are the perfect retreat after a slap up meal.

    Foodies  -  Fans of haute cuisine will rave about the Michelan starred restaurant
    Great walks  -  Across the village to Cartmel's medieval priory
    Sights nearby  -  Have a flutter at nearby Cartmel racecourse
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    Check prices
  • Nanny Brow 11 rooms from $169


    Set in peaceful grounds though only five minutes from Lake Windermere, this elegant, Arts and Crafts B&B is full of period details and furnishings. Bedrooms are vast and with lofty views up Langdale Valley. There’s a bar and terrace, too.

    Great walks  -  Fantastic for walkers - Miles of great walks over Loughrigg Fell
    Views  -  Beautiful views stretching for five miles of the Brathay Valley
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum
    Back to Nature
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays, Good Hotel Guide
    Check prices
  • The Pheasant Inn, Cumbria 15 rooms from $182

    Cockermouth, Cumbria

    An old, remote coaching inn, with fine dining and bistro. Friendly and welcoming with well kept gardens and a cosy lounge with fireplace. Enjoy country walks and fishing in the nearby Lake Bassenthwaite. A country retreat with access to local spa and pool.

    Foodies  -  Enjoy locally sourced produce at this acclaimed casual Bistro- think wholesome food, fine wines and craft ales.
    Country Escape  -  Make the most of your surroundings at this charming coaching inn just meters from the Bassenthwaite Lake.
    Sights nearby  -  Head to Dalemain House and Gardens and explore the historic house and it's beautiful gardens.
    Great walks  -  Sale Fell is on your doorstep, and for the more adventurous Skiddaw range 10 mins away.
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays
    Check prices
  • Grange Hotel 50 rooms from $208

    Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria

    One of a kind and full of character: old fashioned, genteel Victorian hotel. Ornate rooms with heavily draped beds and antique style furniture. Beautifully manicured gardens. Blissful indoor pool, jacuzzi and extensive spa. Fabulous restaurant. Wonderfully romantic.

    Local exploring  -  Set on four acres of landscaped parklands boardering the Lake District, yet within the town and convenient for exploring.
    Great walks  -  Endless walks in the fells, tarns and lakes of the National Park, plus the hotel will pack you a lunch.
    Sights nearby  -  Entertain children at the Beatrix Potter Experience, a wonderful family outing.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor Spa Swimming Pool
    Check prices
  • Howtown Hotel 13 rooms from $216

    nr Penrith, Cumbria

    Wonderful old-fashioned, down-to-earth hotel in the Lake District. Popular with walkers and those seeking the peace and quiet provided by absense of TVs, wifi and phones. Good value with great views and hearty meals. Tranquil lakeside setting.

    Sights nearby  -  Visit the historic Dalemain House, with tudor and medieval rooms, behind a Georgian façade.
    Great walks  -  Fabulous base for walks around the Lake District.
    Views  -  Beautiful views over Ullswater
    Traditional  -  Old fashioned, no frills
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide
    Hotel Website
  • The Forest Side 20 rooms from $259

    Grasmere, Cumbria

    Recently renovated, The Forest Side is a romantic gothic mansion just outside Grasmere in the heart of the Lake District. Offering chic and spacious accommodation with plenty of light hues, this dog-friendly spot boasts 43 acres of superb gardens and stunning cuisine. A top-notch country retreat!

    Great walks  -  The Lake District is home to many breathtaking hiking trails
    Sailing  -  Hire a rowing boat on nearby Grasmere
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
    Check prices
  • Randy Pike 3 rooms from $261


    Randy Pike is a superb boutique hotel not far from the shores of Lake Windermere, a wash with charm and character. A former hunting lodge, the aesthetic is stylish and urbane with modern design features and carefully selected furnishings. Perfect for a relaxing romantic break in the countryside.

    Romantic Break  -  A romantic and intimate setting with deluxe suites, home-made cookies, roll top baths and superb views of the woods.
    Country Escape  -  This quaint and cosy hotel makes for the perfect country escape to the Lake District.
    Great walks  -  Make the most of the beautiful walking in the surrounding Cumbrian countryside.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the home of Windermere's most famous resident, Beatrix Potter.
    Check prices
  • Lodore Falls Hotel 71 rooms from $251

    The Lake District

    An impressive country house boasting a gorgeous mountain backdrop. Charming rooms are traditional in style with warm hues and soft patterns. An award winning restaurant serves regional cuisine. Set within 40 acres of picturesque countryside it's the perfect spot for a rural escape.

    Country Escape  -  A country house set in an outstanding location. Take long walks, have a drink by the open fire and feast on regional cuisine.
    Great walks  -  The Lake District boasts stunning walking routes.
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Full of character
    Check prices
  • Holbeck Ghyll Hotel 23 rooms from $339

    Windermere, Cumbria

    Luxurious former Hunting Lodge overlooking Lake Windermere makes for an intimate hideaway. Classically styled rooms offer comfort and views. Michelin starred food and an extensive wine list welcome you at the dining room. Whether enjoying the spa or exploring the grounds - relaxing is on the cards!

    Total relaxation  -  Unwind in Victorian English style with pampering suites overlooking Lake Windermere, spa services and impeccable service.
    Active Holiday  -  Walkers and ramblers bring your wellies and explore this stunning part of the country.
    Great walks  -  Ask at the front desk for an outline of the wonderful walks around the lake and beyond.
    Private Hot Tub  -  Miss Potter Suite and Ghyll Side cottage both feature a private hot tub.
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide, Johansens, Sawdays, Small Luxury Hotels
    Check prices