Lake District hotels:10 best places to stay for comfort and location

Olivia Blair, Hazel Davis
Lake District hotels like the Swan come with killer views: The Swan

Unesco confirmed it: the Lake District is a place you need to visit. The newly declared World Heritage Site offers extraordinary landscapes, fantastic walks, peerless views - and some fantastic hotels to go with it all.

It’s more accessible than you think, too, with trains from London Euston to Oxenholme taking under three hours, and the journey from Glasgow taking just 105 minutes.

The hotel scene hasn’t always been the best up here, but today, following renovations and new openings, there’s something for everyone. From family-friendly, pet-friendly, luxury to budget, here are some of the best.

The Belsfield enjoys a prime location on Lake Windermere

Best for quintessentially English style: The Belsfield

In a prime location overlooking Lake Windermere, it’s hard to compete with the view here. Nevertheless, the Belsfield tries – acquired by Laura Ashley in 2014, the 62 rooms are impeccably furnished, and there’s a fine dining restaurant and a swimming pool too. A five-minute walk from the hub of Bowness-on-Windermere, it is particularly ideal for a first visit to The Lakes. OB

Doubles from £189, B&B

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The Gilpin is known for its ‘mini-moon’ scene (Cool Stays)

Best for mini-moons: Gilpin Hotel and Lake House

The Gilpin has a reputation as a couples and ‘mini-mooners’ hotel – little surprise when the rates are sky high. The hotel is spread across the lodge, which has 25 rooms, and the Lake House which once belonged to the owner’s grandmother and houses the higher category rooms. A standout feature is the ‘spa trail’ – a three-hour couples-tastic experience including private use of a pool, a hot tub and time in the ‘snug’ (essentially a summer house) with afternoon tea. OB

Doubles from £295, B&B (lodge), £575, B&B (Lake House)​

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The cheery Swan has a good mix of rooms for most budgets (The Swan)

Best for variety: The Swan

Overlooking the water in the village of Newby Bridge at the south of Lake Windermere, the Swan’s rooms cater to every type of customer. The ‘cosy’ rooms are fairly affordable, but there are also luxurious loft suites, two-room family suites and even a £400-per-night studio named “The Love Nest”, complete with double walk-in rainfall shower. There’s an ESPA spa, gym, and even a marina to moor the boat that you’re obviously bringing. OB

Doubles from £142, B&B​

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No table is a bad table at The Samling (The Samling)

Best for privacy: The Samling

Recently redeveloped, the Samling sits on 67 acres of land – with just 11 bedrooms to share it. You’ll pay through the nose for that privacy, though – rates hover around the £500 mark. But for that, you get access to things like a hot tub overlooking Lake Windermere and a Michelin-starred restaurant on site. OB

Doubles from £470, B&B

Hawksmoor’s bright B&B rooms make it a good affordable option (Hawksmoor)

Best for budget: Hawksmoor Guest House

A 12-room B&B that’s a 15-minute walk away from the village of Bowness, Hawksmoor is an affordable choice for the Lakes. Rooms are modern (think statement wallpaper), and perks include free fishing and use of the highly rated spa at a nearby hotel. The award-winning breakfast is not to be sniffed at. OB

Doubles from £87, B&B​

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The Cranleigh’s outré furnishings give a different take on the Lake District (Cranleigh Boutique Hotel)

Best for individual style: The Cranleigh

Another Bowness hotel, the Cranleigh’s 18 rooms are all decorated individually, but overall they’re contemporary if not outré. Like mirrored walls, peekaboo bathtubs and leopard-print? You’ll be in your element. Very un-Lakes-like, but appealing for that very reason. OB

Doubles from £126, B&B

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The Langdale splits its accommodation between rooms and lodges (The Langdale)

Best for contemporary chic: The Langdale

In a small village near Ambleside, the Langdale mixes up its rooms with one, two and three-bed lodges. The look is contemporary – rooms range from clean-and-simple to statement wallpaper and nickel bathtubs by the bed, while the lodges are scattered around the 35-acre estate. Facilities include a 21m pool and tennis court. OB

Doubles from £125, B&B​

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Armathwaite’s decor fits with its country pile surroundings (Armathwaite)

Best for deer-spotting: Armathwaite Hall Hotel

A four-star hotel at the tip of Bassenthwaite, in the north of the Lake District, Armathwaite is an old country pile surrounded by 400 acres of secluded deer park. Décor’s fairly traditional, in line with the castle-like exterior, but the dark wood furniture is pepped up with pattered sofas, colourful cushions and the odd statement wallpaper. OB

Doubles from £205, B&B​

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The Macdonald Old England is a relative behemoth of the Lakes, but the position is unbeatable (Macdonald Old England Hotel)

Best for panoramic views: Macdonald Old England Hotel

Sitting on the shore of Lake Windermere, the Macdonald is one of the most iconic hotels in the Lakes. It’s one of the bigger properties around, with a whopping 106 rooms, but the views make up for it – even the Lakehouse restaurant has panoramic views. OB

Doubles from £153, B&B​

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The Regent’s a longstanding, family-run hotel – but in this context, that’s a good thing (Regent Hotel)

Best for family hospitality: Regent Hotel

This family-run hotel in Ambleside has been going strong for 37 years, but that’s not to say it’s old-school. Even the entry-level rooms have natty colour palettes, sharp-patterned curtains and blown-up photos of the lakes behind the beds, while the nautical-themed Sail Loft has a private terrace overlooking the village. OB

Doubles from £99, room only

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Best for a proper lakeside experience: Cragwood Country House

Cragwood Country House is all about comfort ( Cragwood Country House)

If there’s one thing the Lake District does very well indeed, it’s water – and Lake Windermere is the perfect backdrop for a stay at Cragwood Country House. The rooms are so comfy that you might not find time to venture down to the water (especially if you bag yourself one of the lakeside rooms), but if you do you can access it via your very own private jetty. With 20 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland and delicious seasonal produce in the restaurant, you need never leave the estate. HD

Doubles from £119, room only

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Best for nature: Haweswater Hotel

Haweswater Hotel is in the middle of a nature reserve (Haweswater Hotel)

Where better to enjoy some of the country’s finest wildlife than slap-bang in the middle of a nature reserve? Haweswater Hotel is directly on Alfred Wainwright’s famous coast-to-coast path, set in beautiful gardens overlooking one of the region’s largest lakes. Though the last sighting of a golden eagle was in 2015, you’re still surrounded by myriad birdlife and there are red squirrels galore. The hotel is being refurbished to a high standard but the vibe is still a classic one, with sleigh beds, original wooden floors and Art Deco fixtures and fittings. HD

Doubles from £79, room only

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Best for literary lovers: Lindeth Howe

Lindeth Howe was Beatrix Potter’s holiday home (Lindeth Howe)

Beatrix Potter wrote some of her most beloved stories while staying at former mill-owner’s holiday home Lindeth Howe (it’s her writing in the logo) in Bowness-on-Windermere. Potter later bought the house for her mother after her father died. Inside, Potter’s legacy is everywhere, from the book-themed restaurant to the heavy floral bedrooms. It’s the ideal place in which to lose yourself in your favourite book for the weekend. There are even dog-friendly rooms so you can take your four-legged friends along with you (it’s definitely what Beatrix would have wanted). HD

Doubles from £114, room only

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Best for romance: Askham Hall

Askham Hall is a Grade I listed house (Askham Hall)

In the grounds of the Lowther Estate, you couldn’t ask for a more romantic getaway than Askham Hall, whose core dates back to the 14th century. The Grade I listed house has two churches within half a mile making it the perfect wedding venue. Make whoopee in the lavishly decorated Lonsdale Room, the former private bedroom of the Earl and Countess of Lonsdale, with its original Emperor four-poster bed and spectacular views, and lock eyes with your beloved over the seasonal food grown on the estate and lovingly curated and cooked by head chef Richard Swale. HD

Doubles from £150, room only

Best for luxury: The Forest Side Hotel

The Forest Side Hotel offers pure luxury (The Forest Side Hotel)

If you like your interiors to be painstakingly executed with a keen eye for comfort then you’ll love The Forest Side Hotel in Grasmere. Designed by James Mackie, with luxurious wall coverings and fabrics by Zoffany, the beds are specially made by luxury bedmaker Harrison Spinks and the deep-pile Herdwick carpet comes courtesy of Wools of Cumbria. Every step you take here is carefully cushioned. Max out in a master suite with a double-ended bath and a glass or two of something fizzy. HD

Doubles from £159, room only

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This article was first published in July 2017