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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.

At the Hotel Guru we believe everyone should have a choice of whether one wants to wander the Lake District lonely as a cloud or not. But privacy and serenity can be a difficult thing to negotiate, considering how popular the UK’s largest national park is with walkers, hillwalkers, sailors and anyone who enjoys an incredible view. But our Gurus are here to help, we know the best hotels in the Lake District whether you want to escape on your own, with your family or with a significant other, or if you want to be in the thick of things enjoying the liveliness bred by a lot of people being on holiday together. We have found gracious waterside houses in glorious grounds, as well as simple, remote inns, perfect for walkers, hip, fun and centrally located hotels, plus a few fresh and contemporary newcomers.

What not to Miss

  • The lakes! There are a lot of them. Windermere is big, famous, has numerous islands, and probably gets the most visitors, but it’s a beautiful place to boat. Ullswater is big too, as is Conniston Water, and both have great facilities for boating and watersports too. Derwentwater is spectacular too, and close to the quintessential Lake District valleys of Buttermere and Borrowdale. Wastwater is famous for being called ‘stern’ by Wordsworth, and Grasmere and Rydal Water are smaller and peaceful, yet you can still hire rowing boats and there’s a rather charming tea room… And curiously, Tarn Hows is artificial - which might be why it’s so perfectly photogenic.
  • For those of you who like to stretch your legs now and again, whether to go for a short amble or for a more serious hill climb, there is no backdrop more beautiful (and a good source of info for walkers of all abilities is Walkopedia). The best hotels in the Lake District for walkers are not necessarily out in the middle of nowhere, though if you want to go straight from the door, it’s better to be slightly off the beaten track.
  • Scarfell Pike is the big one, if you’re a serious hillwalker, it’s 978metres and England’s highest mountain. it starts at Wasdale Head, and takes around six or seven hours if you’re moderately fit - and you probably should be, it’s quite steep in places.
  • As well as walking, sailing and generally enjoying the great outdoors, one of the great things to do here is learn about the looming literary figures who also came here to walk, sail and enjoy the great outdoors. Wordsworth’s, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum, Rydal Mount, and Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, and Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top farm are the obvious choices for communing with the great and literary, but these parts were also well loved by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Arthur Ransome, and there are numerous sites bearing their stories.
  • As well as these literary museums, the Lake District has a number of impressive properties, including Wray Castle and Arts and Crafts treasure Blackwell House.

Where to Stay

  • Windermere and Ambleside are two of the main centres for visitors. Both are located on the shores of Windermere, and Bowness-on-Windermere is in the middle of it.
  • Keswick is a popular centre in the northern lakes, it’s right on the shore of Derwentwater.
  • There are also numerous smaller pretty villages and hamlets. Ullswater is a good base if you want to explore Gowbarrow Park and Aira Force - one of the region’s most impressive waterfalls. Coniston is where John Ruskin hails from, and Grasmere is wonderfully peaceful. And our Gurus have found some great properties outside of town for those of you looking for total escape.

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.

The Best Hotels in the Lake District

For a Special Occasion

  • Linthwaite House Hotel is an Edwardian pile with fabulous views over Lake Windermere. It offers a stylish, yet relaxed vibe without skimping on the luxury. The loft suite is ideal for a romantic break; its enormous bath can easily take two and if star gazing is your thing, then the telescope positioned under the skylight window will do the trick! Perfect for walkers and fisher-folk.
  • 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.
  • 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 - and romance, if that’s what’s on your mind.

For a Room with a View

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cedar Manor is a former vicar’s house with impressive views of Lake Windermere. There are just eight rooms - and sorry, no children allowed - some are modern, some ecclesiastical in theme and the coach-house bathroom is nothing short of palatial. Hearty gourmet meals are served which would do any vicar proud.

The Best Hotels in the Lake District for Walkers

  • The Howtown Hotel is a wonderfully old fashioned establishment situated 200 yards from Ullswater. With fantastic paths direct from the front door it is immensely popular with the walking fraternity. Accommodation is on a half board basis and a loud gong signals that your hearty dinner is ready.
  • The Wasdale Head Inn is a famous climbing inn, and couldn’t be better situated at the foot of Scafell Pike. The bedrooms are simple but comfortable and all have magnificent views of Wasdale. The hearty pub fare is good, but the offerings in the wood-panelled dining room are better. Ritson’s bar is understandably busy in the evenings – everyone congregates here to exchange stories of days on the fells.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The 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 Most Romantic Hotels in the Lake District

  • 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 Windermere Suites are a collection of eight monochrome suites and eight chic rooms, in a design B&B in the heart of the Lake District. This is the perfect place if you like your decor modern and your scenery sweeping. They also have hot tubs…

The Best Country House Hotels in the Lake District

  • The Forest Side is a Gothic mansion just outside Grasmere, with 20 chic rooms and suites decorated in pale hues. Which comes as a bit of a surprise when you also read that they’re dog-friendly. They have 43acres of superb gardens to support this offer, though. Plus stunning cuisine. Overwater Hall is a secluded country house hotel set in 18 acres of garden and woodland. There are 11 rooms - some with French windows and romantic, ballustraded terraces - and an award-winning restaurant.
  • 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.

The Most Luxurious Hotels in the Lake District

  • The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House has been owned and run by the same family for over 21 years and has built a reputation for superb yet understated service. Bedrooms are luxurious and if you book a garden suite it comes with a private cedar wood hot tub. The food too is excellent – 3 AA Rosettes – and head chef Daniel Grigg uses the finest local produce and West Coast seafood on his menus.

The Best Hotels in the Lake District for Families

  • Just three miles from Beatrix Potter's home, Hill Top, the Windermere Boutique Hotel is a beautiful, Edwardian country house hotel by the shores of Windermere. There are 13 individually decorated rooms, delicious cuisine and space all around.
  • The Ryebeck, in Bowness-on-Windermere, is a comfortable county house hotel in a peaceful spot overlooking Lake Windermere. Relaxed and informal, with 24 comfortable, unfussy rooms, you’re less than two miles from Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top. And there’s an excellent restaurant.
  • Coniston’s The Waterhead Hotel is a stylish, lakeside bolthole with views across Windermere as well. There are 41 sleek, airy rooms, a lively bistro-style restaurant and you’re under 10kms from Beatrix Potter’s house. There’s loads to do here, but if you run out of ideas there’s also free access to a nearby leisure centre.

Best Hotels in the Lake District for Foodies

  • Oak Bank is a 13 room, rather-unassuming-by-Lake-District-standards hotel in the pretty village of Grasmere. The atmosphere is cosy, but, most importantly, the restaurant is exemplary, serving top notch contemporary British fare.
  • The Samling should satisfy even the pickiest of palates. Head chef Ian Swainson, is one of the most exciting young chefs around. And set amid sixty seven acres of beautiful grounds, The Samling is a great base for exploring the area's literary highlights – Wordsworth's and Beatrix Potter’s homes are both close at hand.
  • L'Enclume is a must visit for any foodie - Simon Rogan's superb Michelin starred restaurant is renowned for its farm to table policy. There are sixteen smart rooms, which marry modern design with period features.
  • 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.

The Best Pubs with Rooms in the Lake District

  • 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.
  • Overlooking the River Leven on the south shore of Lake Windermere, The Swan Hotel & Spa is a traditional, lakeland coaching inn with 58 colourful, contemporary rooms and a family-friendly feel. There are views. An indoor and outdoor pool, plus a spa, brasserie and bar.

The Lake District’s Best Escapes

  • Another Place is a 20 room hotel with an incredible indoor infinity pool facing Ullswater. The rooms offer comfort and luxury and the restaurant is fantastic. They have a spa, and they’re surrounded by peace and walking routes.
  • 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.
  • With views of Windermere, Lindeth Fell is a luxurious B&B with just 14 rooms. The decor is a mix of traditional British design and contemporary style - the bathrooms are especially chic. The breakfasts are indulgent and they also do an excellent afternoon tea.
  • The Langdale Hotel & Spa is a collection of low-lying, traditional slate buildings dotted around a forested estate in the Langdale Valley. You’re close to Ambleside and Coniston, and some seriously serene walking routes. There’s also a spa with pools and saunas etc., and great food.

The Best Value Hotels in the Lake District

  • 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.
  • For around £100 per night you can stay in the charming Drunken Duck Inn, in the pretty village so Ambleside, nestled in amongst the Southern Lowland Fells. Built in the 18th century, this is one of the Lake District’s best known gastro pubs. The rooms are gardens look like a spread from ‘Country Living’ and the guests have access to facilities at the nearby Langdale Club.
  • Broadoaks is a smart, country house hotel with 20 romantic rooms in a mix of traditional and contemporary styles - some have four-poster beds. You’re close to Windermere, there’s an award-winning restaurant, and rooms start from around £120 per night.
  • Low Graythwaite Hall has a little corner of Lake Windermere all to itself, as well as nine lovely rooms and huge gardens. Rooms start from around £110 per night.

For an Apartment or Private Cottage

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

Travel Information

  • The most convenient airport for access to the Lake District is Manchester airport. It is about 80 miles to the south. Other good options are Liverpool or Glasgow. Alternatively, catch a train to Windermere with links to various major destinations including Manchester Airport.
  • If you want to rent a car to explore the beautiful Lake District, for prices visit our online partner Rentalcars
  • The summer months from June to early September provide typically the warmest weather for enjoying the Lake District. But it's easy to argue that it's beautiful in all seasons, and Wordsworth definitely did...

If you haven’t found your idea of the best hotels in the Lake District on our Guru’s list you could:

Best Hotels in The Lake District