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Find your perfect stay with our guide to the best places to stay in the Lake District by region. Hardy hikers, landscape photographers, or tea shop goers, get your bearings in England’s most scenic area.
LAST UPDATE: 6 Nov 2023
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The Lake District is a popular national park in northern England covering an area of 2,300 square kilometres.
It’s known for stunning ribbon lakes, rugged mountains, and charming villages.
Getting the most out of this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage location means finding the right base. The different regions of the lakes each offer a very specific experience.
Some have plenty of facilities (and plenty of tourists). Others are remote landscapes abundant with natural beauty and rugged outdoor experiences.
We’ve been visiting this beautiful corner of England for many years. We know each of the areas, most of the hiking trails, and we have our favourite things to do in the Lake District.
This guide includes a review of each region to help you decide where to stay in the Lake District. We have hotel recommendations for each area, plus some of the best stays in the Lake District.
BEST OF THE LAKES
Here are our overall picks for the best Lake District accommodation. Further down in the guide we breakdown each region in the Lake District and why you should stay there.
LAKE DISTRICT REGION MAP
All the properties we’ve listed in this guide are on the map below.
Before you decide where to stay, read our guide to the best things to do in the Lake District. This will help you find the activities that interest you, so you’ll have a good idea of where to base yourself.
1 – KESWICK & AROUND
Best place to stay in the Lake District for adventurous activities centred around a market town.
Nestled on the edge of Derwentwater in the north of the Lake District, Keswick is a lively market town. It has lots of facilities, great nightlife and cafes.
The pedestrianised main street has an excellent fresh-food market and there are museums for rainy days.
The waterfront at Keswick is a lovely spot to stroll. Surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, it’s one of the classic walks in the Lake District.
Plenty of activities are based around Keswick. You can try canyoning, paragliding, rock climbing, and mountain biking. Keswick Adventures has a great selection of outdoor activities.
If you are a walker, many of the most craggy mountains are only a short drive away. In particular, hiking Sharp Edge on Blencathra is a thoroughly adventurous experience.
There’s a wide selection of hotels in and around Keswick catering to all budgets.
HOTELS NEAR KESWICK
Here are a few hotels we recommend in the Keswick area. This is a very popular area, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance.
Just a few miles out of Keswick in Threlkeld, The Bungalows Guesthouse is an excellent budget option in the area. The location at the foot of Blencathra is superb.
LAKESIDE HOUSE | ££
ROYAL OAK | ££
2 – BORROWDALE & BUTTERMERE
Best Lake District area for rugged scenery and dramatic craggy mountains
Borrowdale and Buttermere are a short 30-minute drive from Keswick.
With two dark and moody valleys overlooked by high craggy mountains, this remote region has some of the most stunning views in the Lake District.
There are no towns here, just a splattering of villages and the odd rustic, hiker’s hotel.
Borrowdale and Buttermere are the heart of hiking country. Many of the best walks in the Lake District leave from here. One of our favourites in the area is Haystacks. It’s also a great base to try one of the different routes up Scafell Pike.
This is the perfect Lake District region for getting away from it all. Head into the highest mountains and finish in a rustic pub.
ACCOMMODATION NEAR BORROWDALE & BUTTERMERE
Borrowdale and Buttermere are less busy with tourists. However, as one of the starting points for the Scafell Pike walk, it can get busy over the peak hiking period from June to August.
YHA BORROWDALE | £
This clean and spacious hostel is right on the coast-to-coast trail, making it an excellent choice for hikers. The communal areas are warm and comfy.
GLARAMARA | ££
If you would like all the facilities of a business hotel in an excellent location, Glaramara is a good choice. The hearty breakfast is great.
3 – WINDERMERE & BOWNESS
Best Lake District stays for fancy hotels, lakeside strolls, tea shops & boat rides
Windermere has a gentler landscape than the craggy area around Keswick.
Less steep rock has paved the way for larger towns with more facilities. Tourist boats provide cruises of the lake and a steam train chugs along the shore. The town is bursting with quaint tea shops.
There are also plenty of short walks with great views including Orest Head and Gummer’s How.
Beatrix Potter’s cottage is only a short ferry ride away.
Many of the best hotels in the Lake District are perched along the banks of Windermere offering luxury stays.
The easy accessibility and good facilities means that Windermere and Bowness can get very busy in summer. Additionally, traffic on the lake’s east side can be oppressive.
As a result, Windermere/Bowness is great for enjoying the towns, but it’s not the best base for exploring the rugged side of the Lake District.
HOTELS NEAR WINDERMERE/BOWNESS
Windermere has many of the high-end stays in the Lake District, however, it’s possible to find a good deal. This is a very popular area so book well ahead.
This imposing manor house on the banks of the lake set among landscaped gardens is full of guest-friendly facilities. It’s a 5-minute drive from the centre of town.
THE SAMLING HOTEL | ££££
If you love the idea of being looked after in luxury, the Sampling Hotel is for you. The beautifully appointed rooms have lake or mountain views.
WHEATLANDS LODGE | ££
This classic Victorian property just a few minutes from the centre of Windermere is an adults-only stay with all the right attention to detail.
4 – CONISTON, AMBLESIDE & GRASMERE
Best places to stay in the Lake District for beautifully set villages in a central location
These three charming small towns in the centre of the Lake District are the perfect base to explore the whole area.
Within a 40-minute drive, you can be hiking Helvellyn, canyoning in Coniston, mountain biking in Keswick, or driving Wrynose Pass.
Grasmere is a small town set back from the main road. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, it’s one of the most beautiful villages in the Lake District. It has good hotels and independent restaurants.
Coniston is little more than a village, but it retains a local and lived-in feel with pubs spilling onto the street and handy village stores.
Ambleside is a larger town. It’s busier and has a wider selection of restaurants and independent shops. Despite its facilities and location, it has maintained a charm that Windermere and Bowness have lost.
ACCOMMODATION IN THE AREA
Here are some of our recommendations in the area. It’s a good destination for self-catering properties and rustic farm stays.
The freshly cooked breakfast is just what you need after enjoying the hiking trails near the Ambleside Lake House. There’s free parking and it’s just a 10-minute walk to the town centre.
SELF-CONTAINED HOME | ££
This 3-bedroom home in the centre of Coniston has been renovated to a high standard, making it a great self-contained stay in the lakes. The view from the garden is lovely.
FOREST SIDE HOTEL | £££
This traditional home in a wooded estate in Grasmere still exudes the elegant style of its heyday. The restaurant is quality fine dining and the staff are extremely attentive.
LUXURY PROPERTY | £££
This 6 bedroom, 5 bathroom house near Coniston has everything you need for a quality family stay, complete with a games room and panoramic views.
5 – ELTERWATER & LANGDALE
Best Lake District getaway for dramatic and atmospheric landscapes
Elterwater and Langdale are the best areas for photographers with some of our favourite photo spots in the Lake District.
Snap the mountain reflections on Coniston Water. Visit the striking and under-visited Langdale Valley. Capture the misty waters of the River Brathay as it meanders along the valley.
The Langdale Valley has excellent short walks, several longer ones, and some of the most memorable drives in the Lake District.
Elterwater village itself is a charming hamlet with a couple of great pubs.
This is a great place to stay in the Lake District to feel like you’re getting away from it all in lovely surroundings.
HOTELS NEAR ELTERWATER & LANGDALE
The Elterwater and Langdale region has a great mix of traditional pubs and luxury spa accommodation. Here are some recommendations from us.
This traditional Inn has all the right trimmings: oak beams, open fires, real ales and home-cooked food. Guests also get access to the pool and spa next door.
ELTERMERE INN | £
With views over Lake Eltermere, this property has elegant rooms in bold designs. Quality food is the icing on the cake.
LANGDALE HOTEL & SPA | ££
Indulge in luxury at the Langdale Hotel & Spa, set in 4 acres of lovely woodland. With top service inside and stunning surroundings outside, it’s a perfect stay.
TOWNFOOT COTTAGE | ££££
This great value cottage sleeps 4 in the heart of the Langdale Valley. It has all the amenities you need for a Lakeland stay and it’s very dog-friendly.
6 – WASDALE & ESKDALE
Best area to stay in the Lake District for great walks in remote valleys
Wasdale and Eskdale are the most remote valleys in the Lake District. Yet, they offer some of the most magnificent scenery in the area.
Apart from a stream of day-trippers hiking up Scafell Pike, it’s the perfect spot for getting away from it all. You’ll also find some of the best wild swimming in the Lake District.
There are no towns, just the odd village, a few country pubs, and some of the finest scenery in the area.
And getting to these valleys is half the fun. Most routes involve driving over the high passes of Wrynose, Hardknott, and Whinlatter.
Hardknott is the most challenging with 30% gradients and a series of hairpins.
ACCOMMODATION NEAR WASDALE & ESKDALE
As the most remote region in the Lake District, accommodation around Wasdale and Eskdale is often more affordable. Here are our recommendations in the area.
YHA ESKDALE | £
The Eskdale hostel is located in a picturesque setting, ideal for exploring the valley. The shared kitchen is well set up for self-catering.
With a private garden, excellent views and access to a fully equipped kitchen, Windsor Cottages Scafell is a great option in Wasdale.
1692 WASDALE | ££
The stylish contemporary design of the 1692 Wasdale, blends in with the rugged remote surroundings. A number of great walks leave from the hotel.
A recently renovated property overlooking the Scafell Range, this 2-bedroom apartment sleeps 4. It’s perfectly located for great walks and great pubs.
7 – CARTMEL & HAWKSHEAD
Best place to stay in the Lake District for great food and craft beer
Wedged between the sea and the Lake District National Park, Cartmel and Hawkshead are home to the finer things in the Lake District life.
Cartmel is a small village with a big foodie reputation. It has 2 Michelin-starred restaurants, L’Enclume and Rogan & Company, whose accommodation we mentioned at the top of this guide.
It’s also a contender for inventing the sticky toffee pudding, which you can find in the tiny village store.
Hawkshead is a beautiful little village that has retained its local charm. It’s often overlooked by tourists, making it great for a quiet stay in the Lake District.
A short drive brings you to the grand country houses of Holker Hall or Levens Hall and a plethora of easy walks spread out from the waters of Coniston.
HOTELS NEAR CARTMEL & HAWKSHEAD
With a reputation for quality living, Cartmel & Hawkshead have a selection of high-end accommodation. However, you’ll also find some traditional pubs.
QUEEN’S HEAD INN | ££
Despite the 17th century beginning, the Queen’s Head has contemporary fittings with a retro touch. The wine and beer list is impressive.
SWAN HOTEL & SPA | £££
The quirky colourful interiors of the Swan Hotel will brighten up any gloomy Lake District weekend. Their self-contained cottages, The Nests, are like mini resorts.
WEAVER’S COTTAGE | £££
Luxury accommodation in the heart of Cartmel with 4 good-sized bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a well-appointed kitchen for entertaining.
8 – ULLSWATER & PATTERDALE
Best area to stay in the Lake District for adventurous ridge walks and lakeside activities
The northwest of the Lake District is a craggy towers of rocks. The south is lower-lying green hills punctuated with lakes. Ullswater and Patterdale are a mix of the two.
High mountains combine with grassy hills to form the finest ridge walks in the lakes.
Some are razor-sharp and only for the adventurous like Sharp Edge Blencathra and Striding Edge Helvellyn. Others are rounded tops upon which you could stroll for days.
Besides excellent walking, there are also family-focused activities on the lakes.
Rent a canoe or motorboat, take a ride on a steamer, enjoy a long swim from the shore, or leap into chilly waters from Kailpot Crag.
The best waterfall in the region, Aira Force, is here making it a microcosm of all that’s good about the Lake District.
HOTELS NEAR ULLSWATER & PATTERDALE
The area around Ullswater and Patterdale has a mix of classic pubs, quirky stays, and resort-style accommodation. Here are some suggestions from us.
OLD WATER VIEWS | ££
The Old Water View is a comfy, basic guesthouse with charm & character. The continental breakfast will put you in good stead for hiking Hellvelyn.
THE CROWN INN | ££
Well-appointed pub on the shores of Ullswater with a well-positioned deck. The hearty breakfast will set you up for the day.