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.


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BEST AREAS TO STAY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT


KESWICK & AROUND

For the adventurers

BORROWDALE & BUTTERMERE

For the hardy hikers

WINDERMERE & BOWNESS

For the tourist trappings

CONISTON, AMBLESIDE & GRASMERE

For the explorers

ELTERWATER & LANGDALE

For the photographers

WASDALE & ESKDALE

For a remote escape

CARTMEL & HAWKSHEAD

For the foodies

ULLSWATER & PATTERDALE

For amblers and scramblers

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. Many different 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.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KESWICK & AROUND

As one of the mains centres in the Lake District, and beautifully set between mountains and lakes, there are several great accommodation options for all budgets. Here are some of our picks.


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.

BOOKING.COM

KESWICK

HOWE KELD

Bright and colourful B&B in the centre of Keswick with free Wifi and a shared living room. The breakfast is a big hit and the shores of Derwentwater are an easy stroll away.

BOOKING.COM

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.

HOTELS.COM // BOOKING.COM

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 part of the Lake District is remote and stunning. 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.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BORROWDALE & BUTTERMERE

As a remote part of the Lake District and a popular location for long-distance hikes, there are some very cost-effective accommodation options in the area.


ROSTHWAITE

YHA BORROWDALE

The YHA Borrowdale is a relaxed friendly hostel in a magical setting. There’s free parking, laundry facilities and hot meals available.

BOOKING.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

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.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN WINDERMERE & BOWNESS

Windermere is one of the most popular towns in the Lake District so there’s no shortage of accommodation options. Here are some of our picks.


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.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

WINDERMERE

CRAGWOOD COUNTRY HOUSE

This imposing manor house on the banks of the lake set among landscape gardens is full of guest-friendly facilities. It’s a 5-mintue drive the centre of town.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM

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.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CONISTON, AMBLESIDE & GRASMERE

With traditional houses in large estates and cosy self-contained cottages, there’s a variety of places to stay in this beautiful part of the lakes. Here are some suggestions.


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.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

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.

VRBO.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM

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.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ELTERWATER & LANGDALE

Although you’ll want to be up early to take advantage of this beautiful setting, there are also some great places to spend your time relaxing by an open fire or getting rejuvenated in a spa.


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.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

ELTERWATER

ELTERMERE INN

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

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

GREAT LANGDALE

LANGDALE HOTEL & SPA

Indluge 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.

BOOKING.COM

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.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN WASDALE & ESKDALE

While Wasdale and Eskdale are two of the most remote valleys in the Lake District, there are some surprisingly great stays. With everything from budget hotels to top-end hotels, here are some recommendations.


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.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

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.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CARTMEL & HAWKSHEAD

Here are our pick of the stays in and around Caretmel and Hawkshead to enjoy the more culinary side to the Lakes.


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.

BOOKING.COM

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 is impressive.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM

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.

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ULLSWATER & PATTERDALE

Taking advantage of the superb lakeside setting, the hotels in this part of the Lake District know how to sell their most appealing feature. But, there are also many affordable digs in Ullswater and Patterdale as well.


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.

BOOKING.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM // HOTELS.COM

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.

BOOKING.COM

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 & SCRAMBLES IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
CONQUER KNIFE-EDGE RIDGES ON THIS EXHILARATING WALK UP BLENCATHRA
WALK SCAFELL PIKE VIA THE CORRIDOR ROUTE FOR A TOP LAKE DISTRICT HIKE
OTHER IDEAS
9 ADVENTUROUS ACTIVITIES TO TRY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
EXPLORE THE REMOTE AND RUGGED LAKE DISTRICT AT THE LANGDALE PIKES
BEST REMOTE SPOTS FOR A PEACEFUL WILD SWIM IN THE LAKE DISTRICT

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