Finding the best places to stay in the Lake District helps if you know what you are looking for. Whether you are a hardy hiker, a souvenir hunter, or adventure junky; this guide helps you chose your perfect spot.

With so many great areas, finding the best places to stay in the Lake District can be a daunting task.

Are you looking for an adventurous excursion scrambling high rocky ledges or a relaxing weekend strolling lakeside market towns? Is a long hike in a remote valley the elixir you have been longing for, or does being pampered in a spa sound like your cup of tea?

The Lake District is split into several different regions which offer very specific experiences. Some have the lion’s share of the facilities, and the tourists to go with it. Others are far more remote with the ability to get away from it all and experience the rugged outdoors of the lakes.

We’ve been coming to the Lake District for years now. It’s the one area in the UK we know better than anywhere else. There are few mountains in the area we haven’t climbed, or valleys we haven’t walked. We’ve had Scafell Pike views drenched in sun and more than a few days just plain drenched. We’ve tried many of the wild swimming spots and more than a few of the local pubs. 

Here is our guide for the best places to stay in the Lake District that will give you the lakes experience you are looking for.

Best places to stay in the Lake District

WHERE TO STAY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT


KESWICK & THRELKELD

For the adventurers

BORROWDALE & BUTTERMERE

For the hardy hikers

WINDERMERE & BOWNESS

For the gentle life of luxury

CONISTON, AMBLESIDE & GRASMERE

For the explorers

ELTERWATER & LANGDALE

For the photographers

WASDALE & ESKDALE

For a remote escape

CARTMEL & THE SOUTH COAST

For the foodies

ULLSWATER & PATTERDALE

For amblers and scramblers


1 / KESWICK & THRELKELD

Best place to stay in the Lake District for adventurous activities in a market town

Nestled on the edge of Derwentwater in the north of the Lake District, Keswick is a lively market town distinctly lacking the tourist vibe. The pedestrianised main street has an excellent fresh-food market and there are museums for rainy days.

But most of all, this is a hub for the adventurous. Many different activities can be booked from Keswick including canyoning, paragliding, rock climbing and mountain biking. And if you are a hiker then the highest and most craggy mountains are only a short drive away.

BUDGET
BUNGALOWS GUEST HOUSE

Great budget option a few miles out of Keswick

MID-MARKET
HOWE KELD

Home from home, a perfect B&B in a central location

SPLURGE
LAKESIDE HOUSE

Idyllically set by the woods on the lake with only a short walk to town

WHEN? / Spring & Summer. Many activities that make the Keswick area a great place to stay in the Lake District shut in the winter months and autumn can be wet.


2 / BORROWDALE & BUTTERMERE

Best place to stay in the Lake district for rugged scenery and dramatic craggy mountains

Borrowdale and Buttermere are a short 30-minute drive from Keswick. Two dark and moody valleys overlooked by high craggy mountains, this part of the Lake District is remote and stunning. There are no towns here, just a splattering of villages and the odd hotel.

Borrowdale and Buttermere is the heart of hiking country. Many of the best walks in the Lake District leave from here such as Wainwright’s favourite Haystacks or the excellent ‘corridor route’ up Scafell Pike.

If getting away from it all, strapping on the hiking boots, heading into the highest mountains and ending the day in a rustic country pub is your thing, then this is the place for you.

BUDGET
YHA BORROWDALE

A great budget option with access to hundreds of walks

MID-MARKET
LANGSTRATH COUNTRY INN

Old country pub all alone at the end of a lovely valley

SPLURGE
HAZEL BANK COUNTRY HOUSE

Magnificent Manor House, stunning food, idyllic setting

WHEN? / May & June. The driest months and clearest skies are the best option for this, the wettest place in England.


3 / WINDERMERE & BOWNESS

Best place to stay in the Lake District 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. There are tourist boats that provide cruises of the lake, and a steam train that chugs along the shore. The town is bursting with quaint tea shops.

There are also plenty of short walks with great views (Orest Head and Gummers How) and 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 the lake, offering all sorts of luxury. But beware, being easily accessible and with the most facilities in the Lake District, Windermere and Bowness can get packed in summer. The traffic on the lake’s east side can be oppressing.

BUDGET
HOLLY LODGE GUEST HOUSE

Individually styled rooms bang in the centre of town

MID-MARKET
CRAGWOOD COUNTRY HOUSE

Right on the water’s edge with lovely gardens

SPLURGE
THE SAMLING HOTEL

Refined luxury with great views of Lake Windermere

WHEN? / Outside summer. This is a very popular region in the Lake District so it’s best to go when the crowds are gone.


4 / CONISTON, AMBLESIDE AND GRASMERE

Best place 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 a perfect base for those looking to explore the whole area. Within a forty-minute drive you can be hiking up majestic Helvellyn, canyoning in Coniston, hiring a mountain bike in Keswick or encouraging your car up Wrynose Pass.

Grasmere is a small town set back from the main road, next to a picturesque lake. It has good hotels and independent restaurants (try the Jumble Room). Ambleside is busier with a wider array of bistros and independent shops but has maintained a charm that Windermere and Bowness have lost. 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.

BUDGET
AMBLESIDE LAKE HOUSE

Lakeside with a short walk into charming Ambleside

MID-MARKET
FAIRFIELD APARTMENTS

Well appointed apartments just off Coniston high street

SPLURGE
FOREST SIDE HOTEL

Victorian grandeur outside, contemporary luxury within

WHEN? / Any time of year. This part of the Lake District has more indoor activities, and being so central you can drive to wherever the weather looks best


5 / ELTERWATER AND LANGDALE

Best place to stay in the Lake District for misty sunrises and shimmering peaks

With a combination of great views and atmospheric misty lakes, Elterwater and Langdale get our pick for the best places in the Lake District for photographers. Snap the mountain reflections on Coniston Water, the striking Langdale Pikes from Blea Tarn or 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. All in all, it’s rather lovely.

BUDGET
THE BRITANNIA INN

Traditional Inn, real ales, home cooked classics and good walks

MID-MARKET
ELTERMERE INN

Country house hotel on the edge of lovely Elterwater

SPLURGE
LANGDALE HOTEL & SPA

Luxury in one of the most picturesque valleys

WHEN? / Spring and Autumn. Chilly misty mornings over the lakes is ideal for classic Lake District photography.


6 / WASDALE AND ESKDALE

Best place to stay in the Lake District for great walks in remote valleys

Wasdale and Eskdale are the most remote yet magnificent of valleys. Desolate (except for a stream of day-trippers hiking up Scafell Pike) they are the perfect spot for getting away from it, having a wild swim and a lonely hike. You won’t find any towns, just the odd village, a few country pubs and some of the finest scenery in the Lake District.

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. Open only to smaller vehicles, it has 30% gradients and a series of hairpins. Whichever route you choose, you are rewarded with excellent views of the high mountains and deep valleys.

BUDGET
YHA ESKDALE

A great budget option in remote Eskdale

MID-MARKET
WASDALE HEAD INN

A hiker’s pub at the head of the Wasdale Valley

SPLURGE
1692 WASDALE

Well-furnished comfort a short drive from the craggy remoteness

WHEN? / May to Sep. Summer offers long days of lonely hikes in this remote part of the Lake District. In winter, the passes are often closed.


7 / CARTMEL & THE SOUTH COAST

Best place to stay in the Lake District for foodies 

Wedged between the sea and the Lake District National Park, Cartmel has become home to many of the finer things in the Lake District life. The quaint village recalling an earlier time has artisan bakeries, village shops briming with local produce and two Michelin starred restaurants (L’Enclume and Rogan & Company).

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. The hotels on offer are pretty good to. So if you fancy gentle drives into beautiful scenery and world-class dining in the evening then Cartmel and the South Coast is for you.

BUDGET
THE CAVENDISH ARMS

Coaching Inn in the centre of lovely Cartmel

MID-MARKET
CORNER BEECH HOUSE

Simple, welcoming, excellent guesthouse

SPLURGE
SWAN HOTEL & SPA

Well-furnished comfort a short drive from the craggy remoteness

WHEN? / Winter. After taking short drives to the snow covered peaks, relax with fine food and wine by an open fire.


8 / ULLSWATER & PATTERDALE

Best place to stay in the Lake District for the finest ridge walks and a beautiful lake

Whereas the north-west of the Lake District is a craggy tower of rocks and the south is lower-lying sheep strewn green hills punctuated with lakes, Ullswater and Patterdale are a mix of the two. High mountains combine with grassy hills to form many of the finest ridge walks in the country. Some are razor-sharp and only for the adventurous like Sharp Edge and Striding Edge, while others are rounded tops upon which you could stroll for days.

Not only is the walking excellent but there are also family-focused activities on the lake. 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 is here too, making it a microcosm of all that’s good about the Lake District.

BUDGET
OLD WATER VIEW

Comfy guesthouse with a lovely garden & and drying room

MID-MARKET
ULLSWATER VIEW GUESTHOUSE

Contemporary rooms with great views

SPLURGE
DUKE OF PORTLAND BOAT HOUSE

Your own classy boathouse overlooking the lake

WHEN? / Any time of year. Walk and swim the summer months and take in the moody lakeside scenes in winter.


WHERE NEXT?

First, if you found this useful, please follow us on Instagram to stay up to date with our travels.

If you are inspired to visit the Lake District, all our writing about the area is on our Britain page.

Here are some other great ideas for getting outdoors in the UK that you might enjoy:

SEVEN SISTERS HIKE
KAYAKING ON THE RIVER WYE
LULWORTH COVE TO DURDLE DOOR HIKE

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