Unesco just 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 10 of the best.
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.
Doubles from £189, B&B
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.
Doubles from £295, B&B (lodge), £575, B&B (Lake House)
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.
Doubles from £142, B&B
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.
Doubles from £470, B&B
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.
Doubles from £87, B&B
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.
Doubles from £126, B&B
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.
Doubles from £125, B&B
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.
Doubles from £205, B&B
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.
Doubles from £153, B&B
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.
Doubles from £99, room only
This article has been updated. It was originally published in July 2017