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We’ve been to the Lake District almost every year for the last 20 years, so it’s an area in England we can safely say we know pretty well. Our guide covers each of the main regions, with suggestions for where to base yourself.


By: Mark Barnes |
Published: 27 Apr 2024

The 2,300 square kilometres that make up the Lake District National Park is our favourite slice of England.

Every year we head up to the lakes to walk in rugged scenery, swim in beautiful ribbon lakes and admire charming country villages.

One thing we’ve come to appreciate from our annual trips north is the diversity. Each of the different regions in the Lake District offer specific experiences. Some have plenty of facilities, others are remote landscapes with natural beauty and rugged outdoor experiences.

This guide includes a summary of each region to help you decide where to stay in the Lake District along with hotel recommendations for different budgets.

keswick with snow capped mountains in the backgroundkeswick with snow capped mountains in the background
KESWICK

IN THIS GUIDE

WHERE TO STAY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT (BY REGION)


BEST OF THE LAKES

If you are looking for a specific type of stay, rather than a particular area, here are some recommendations. The Lake District is a great destination for everything from an old-world pub through to a splurge.

Here is the best of the Lake District:

cartmel lake districtcartmel lake district

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.

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 for adventurous activities centred around a charming market town.

Nestled on the edge of Derwentwater in the north of the Lake District, Keswick is a lively market town with lots of facilities, bars, restaurants and cafes.

It’s located in the northern section of the Lake District surrounded by some of the most craggy mountains in the area. From here you could try the hike up Blencathra via Sharp Edge or the more sedate but beautiful, Latrigg.

There are also plenty of activities in addition to walking that you can keep yourself occupied with. Keswick Adventures offers canyoning, paragliding, rock climbing, and mountain biking.

The waterfront at Keswick is a lovely spot to stroll and a stay here is the perfect way to blend town and country activities.

derwentwater keswickderwentwater keswick
KESWICK WATERFRONT

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 | ££

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.


OUR PICK

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

Best 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, including our favourite, 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, where you can head into the highest mountains and finish in a rustic pub.

row of trees reflected in buttermere, lake district englandrow of trees reflected in buttermere, lake district england
BUTTERMERE

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.


OUR PICK

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 for fancy hotels, lakeside strolls, tea shops & boat rides.

Windermere has a gentler landscape than the craggy area around Keswick which has paved the way for larger towns with more facilities.

Windermere is the main tourist centre of the Lake District with the crowds that go with it. The upside, however, is that there is plenty to do, even for non-walkers.

There are popular cruises on the river, quaint tea shops in the town and Beatrix Potter’s cottage is only a short ferry ride away. You’ll also find many of the top hotels in the Lake District dotted along the shores of Lake Windermere.

Windermere/Bowness is great for enjoying the towns, but it’s not the best for exploring the rugged side of the Lake District.

The other thing we should point out is that traffic on the lake’s east side can be oppressive.

fell foot on lake windermere lake districtfell foot on lake windermere lake district
FELL FOOT, WINDERMERE

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.


OUR PICK

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 for beautifully set villages in a central location.

We always stay in this part of the Lake District because it’s the most central area and it’s convenient to all the things we love about the lakes.

Within a 40-minute drive, we can be hiking Helvellyn, canyoning in Coniston, mountain biking in Keswick, or driving Wrynose Pass. (For our full list read: what to do in the Lake District.)

These three charming small towns are the perfect base to explore the whole area.

Grasmere is one of the most beautiful villages in the Lake District with quality 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, busier town with a wider selection of restaurants and independent shops. Despite having good facilities and a great location, it has maintained a charm that Windermere and Bowness have lost.

OUR PICK

AMBLESIDE | ££

LAKE HOUSE AT THE WATERHEAD INN

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 for dramatic and atmospheric landscapes.

We recommend Elterwater and Langdale as great areas for anyone interested in photography. This is some of the most picturesque landscapes in the Lake District.

The mountain reflections in Coniston Water are sublime; the Langdale Valley is striking and sadly under-visited; the misty waters of the River Brathay are mesmerizing as it meanders along the valley.

Elterwater Village itself is a charming hamlet with a couple of great pubs which we have featured below.

This is a great place to stay to feel like you’re getting away from it all in lovely surroundings.

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.


OUR PICK

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 for great walks in remote valleys

Wasdale and Eskdale are the most remote valleys in the Lake District and they offer some of the most magnificent scenery.

Apart from a stream of day-trippers hiking up Scafell Pike, Wasdale and Eskdale are often blissfully quiet. You can also come here to find some of our favourite wild swimming places 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.

To get here, most routes involve driving over the high passes including Wrynose, Hardknott, and Whinlatter; some of the most scenic drives in the Lake District.

hard knott pass lake districthard knott pass lake district
HARDKNOTT PASS

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.


OUR PICK

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 for great food and craft beer.

Wedged between the sea and the Lake District National Park, Cartmel and Hawkshead make up the southern section of the lakes.

Cartmel is a small village with a big foodie reputation. It has 2 Michelin-starred restaurants, L’Enclume and Rogan & Company, with stylish accommodation good enough for a splurge.

Hawkshead is a beautiful little village that has retained its local charm. It’s often overlooked by tourists, making it a great destination for a quiet, relaxed stay.

The grand counter houses of Holker Hall and Levens Hall are just a short drive away, and there are several easy walks spread out over the banks of Coniston Water.

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.


OUR PICK

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.


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 for adventurous ridge walks and lakeside activities.

Ullswater and Patterdale has a combination of the two defining features of the Lake District: the craggy towers of the northwest and the green rolling hills of the south.

High mountains and grassy hills 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 plenty of family-focused activities on the lakes. You could rent a canoe or motorboat, take a ride on a steamer, or enjoy a bracing swim.

Aira Force, the best waterfall in the Lake District, is also a great place for families.

a vintage steam boat on ullswater in the lake district englanda vintage steam boat on ullswater in the lake district england
ULLSWATER STEAMER

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.


OUR PICK

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 GUIDES TO PLAN YOUR LAKE DISTRICT TRIP

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