Whether you are a hardy hiker, a landscape photographer, a souvenir hunter, or an adventure junky, get your bearings in England’s most scenic area with our guide to the best places to stay in the Lake District.

The Lake District is a popular national park in northern England covering an area of 2,300 square kilometres. With spectacular ribbon lakes, rugged mountains and charming villages the range of activities on offer spans everything from afternoon scones to adventurous scrambles.

The various places to stay in the Lake District are scattered across different sections, each of which offers a very specific experience. Some have ample facilities (and the tourists to go with it), others are remote landscapes abundant with natural beauty and rugged outdoor experiences.

We’ve been visiting this beautiful corner of England for years now. There are few mountains 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 to give you the lakes experience you are looking for. For more inspiration, read our guide to the best UK weekend breaks.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

person walking on a huge mountain in morning light in the Lake District

IN THIS GUIDE

WHERE TO STAY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT


01 – KESWICK & AROUND

02 – BORROWDALE

03 – AROUND WINDERMERE

04 – AMBLESIDE & GRASMERE

05 – ELTERWATER & LANGDALE

06 – WASDALE & ESKDALE

07 – CARTMEL & HAWKSHEAD

08 – AROUND ULLSWATER

MAP / WHERE TO STAY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT

All the properties we’ve listed in this guide are on the map below so you can get a feel for each of the different areas in the Lake District. Before you decide where to stay, read our guide covering the best things to do in the Lake District.

This will help you understand what type of activities you might be interested in, so you’ll have a good idea where to base yourself.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


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 with great facilities, nightlife and cafes. The pedestrianised main street has an excellent fresh-food market and there are museums for rainy days.

The waterfront is a lovely spot to stroll, surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains including the sloping back of Catbells, one of the classic walks in the Lake District.

Activities can be booked from Keswick including canyoning, paragliding, rock climbing and mountain biking. And if you are a hiker, many of the most craggy mountains and the best ridge walks are only a short drive away.

THRELKELD

BUNGALOWS GUEST HOUSE

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.


KESWICK

KESWICK COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL

This beautiful old hotel situated on a large, well-maintained garden is located 5-minutes from the centre of town. Most rooms have excellent views.


KESWICK

LAKESIDE HOUSE

Set in the centre of Keswick, Lakeside House is contemporary luxury accommodation with all the modern amenities you could ask for. Breakfast is served in front of a stunning view.


KESWICK

ROYAL OAK

Located in the centre of town, the Royal Oak has a country house feel with stylish modern amenities. The food is excellent and dogs are cared for as well as regular human guests.


2 – BORROWDALE & BUTTERMERE

The best area 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 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 such as Wainwright’s favourite Haystacks or the excellent ‘corridor route’ up Scafell Pike.

If getting away from it all, heading into the highest mountains and finishing in a rustic pub is what are you looking for, then Borrowdale and Buttermere are the areas for you.

ROSTHWAITE

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.


STONETHWAITE

LANGSTRATH COUNTRY INN

The Langstrath Inn has 8 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms in a cosy old pub. The location in a secluded valley is an ideal way to get away from it all.


SEATOLLER

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.


ROSTHWAITE

HAZEL BANK COUNTRY HOUSE

This family-run guesthouse is in a perfect location in the Lake District to enjoy the remote spectacular scenery. Service is warm and welcoming.


3 – WINDERMERE & BOWNESS

Best places 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. 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 (Orest Head and Gummer’s 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 oppressive.

WINDERMERE

HOLLY LODGE GUEST HOUSE

For an affordable stay bang in the centre of Windermere, The Holly Lodge is a great choice. The individually styled rooms give it a boutique hotel feel.


WINDERMERE

CRAGWOOD COUNTRY HOUSE

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.


WINDERMERE

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.


WINDERMERE

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 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. 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 (try the Jumble Room). 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 that is 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.

AMBLESIDE

AMBLESIDE LAKE HOUSE

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.


CONISTON

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.


GRASMERE

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.


CONISTON

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 place to stay in the Lake District for photographing dramatic and atmospheric landscapes

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. Alternatively, 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. All in all, it’s rather lovely.

Read all about this rugged and remote area in the Lake District in our guide to visiting the Langdale Pikes.

ELTERWATER

THE BRITANNIA INN

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.


ELTERWATER

ELTERMERE INN

With views over Lake Eltermere, this property has elegant rooms in bold designs. Quality food is the icing on the cake.


GREAT LANGDALE

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.


ELTERWATER

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.

Desolate (except for a stream of day-trippers hiking up Scafell Pike) they are the perfect spot for getting away from it all, having a wild swim and a lonely hike. There are no 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.

HOLMROOK

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.


NETHER WASDALE

WINDSOR COTTAGES SCAFELL

With a private garden, excellent views and access to a fully equipped kitchen, Windsor Cottages Scafell is a great option in Wasdale.


SEASCALE

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.


WASDALE

SCAFELL VIEW APARTMENT

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 the food and craft beer scene 

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 boasts artisan bakeries, village shops brimming with local produce and two Michelin starred restaurants (L’Enclume and Rogan & Company). The star of Cartmel however is sticky toffee pudding, which originated from the small village store before becoming the ubiquitous menu item is it today.

Hawkshead is a beautiful little village that has retained its local charm while remaining somewhat overlooked by tourists. The beer selection at Kittchen Bar & Beershop is fantastic.

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. So if you fancy gentle drives into beautiful scenery and world-class dining in the evening then Cartmel or Hawkshead is for you.

CARTMEL

THE CAVENDISH ARMS

The rooms at the Cavendish Arms with their oak beans retain the charm of its 450-year history. Enjoy home-cooked food by the open fire.


HAWKSHEAD

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 are impressive.


NEWBY BRIDGE

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.


CARTMEL

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 the adventurous ridge walks and lakeside activities

While the northwest 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, Aira Force, is here making as well it a microcosm of all that’s good about the Lake District.

PATTERDALE

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.


WATERMILLOCK

ULLSWATER VIEW GUESTHOUSE

If you like all the modern stylings with superb views, then the Ullswater View Guesthouse is for you. The staff are helpful and attentive.


POOLEY BRIDGE

DUKE OF PORTLAND BOAT HOUSE

For a stay with a difference, hire the Duke of Portland Boathouse. Perched on Ullswater it’s ideal for a romantic getaway.


POOLEY BRIDGE

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.


MORE READING FOR THE LAKE DISTRICT

We’ve been to the Lake District many times and never run out of fantastic things to do. From adventurous scrambles to relaxing wild swimming, here are more of our guides from the lakes.

LAKE DISTRICT WALKS

Our pick of the finest walks in the Lake District

Try these heart-pumping grade 1 Lake District scrambles

Conquer knife-edge ridges on this exhilarating walk up Blencathra

Walk Scafell Pike via the corridor route

OTHER IDEAS

15 great things to do in the Lake District

Our favourite Lake District views

Explore the rugged & remote Langdale Pikes

The best wild swimming locations in the Lake District


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