Ever-changing travel restrictions have made it hard to book summer holidays this year. But, on the plus side, it’s made us more likely to visit places closer to home – such as these stunning Lake District hotels. There’s still a big chunk of Great British summer left, so why not hire a car and treat yourself to a getaway among the tranquil hills and lakes of Cumbria?
We’ve chosen 12 amazing accommodation options to inspire you, from luxury spa hotels to small family-run guesthouses for every taste and budget. Remember that things can change quickly at the moment. Always check local travel restrictions before you book, and again before you head off on your trip.
The best Lake District hotels
- The Gilpin Hotel & Lakehouse
- Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel
- Whitewater Hotel & Spa
- Ravenstone Manor
- Lakeview Country House
- Victorian House Hotel
- Elim Bank Guesthouse
- Applegarth Villa Hotel & Restaurant
- Hill Crest Country Guesthouse
- Wayfarer’s Independent Hostel
- The George Hotel
- Ferndale Lodge Ambleside
The best spa hotels in the Lake District
The Gilpin Hotel & Lakehouse
Mention the Gilpin Lake House and you’ll hear whispers of its famous Jetty Spa – one of the most unique and upmarket spots for a pampering session in the Lake District. The Swedish-style spa treatment room is raised three metres off the ground in a tree house, and has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a tranquil, private lake. Gilpin Lake House itself has space for just 12 guests, with 100 acres of private grounds to explore. If you can’t get one of the coveted six rooms, try booking into the main Gilpin Hotel. This luxury hotel in the Lake District has 28 bedrooms, including Spa Suites where you can order a treatment to take place in the privacy of your room. A Champagne bar, on-site Michelin Star restaurant and croquet lawn amp-up the luxe factor, to soothe aching body and soul after hikes in the Lake District hills.
Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel
Thanks to its views across Lake Windermere, the spa at Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel is a serene place to unwind. The outdoor hot tub, steam room and sauna are temporarily closed due to the pandemic, however treatments are still being offered. Go all in with an aromatherapy massage using specially blended essential oils, or doll yourself up with a MAC makeup application. It’s the perfect way to glam up before an evening at the hotel’s critically acclaimed, fine-dining restaurant, even if the only one to see it will be your poached lemon sole piled high with seaweed and mussels, and drizzled in champagne sauce.
Whitewater Hotel & Spa
Set in what was once a dolly blue pigment factory, the Whitewater Hotel & Spa is packed with history and character – and is also blessed with one of the fanciest spas in the Lake District. The Cascades Spa and Leisure Club has all the expected features: a heated indoor pool, steam room, sauna and hot tub, as well as a gym, plus Elemis treatments and OPI mani-pedis on the top floor. But it also has a taste of the unexpected, with its extra-special Turkish Hamam, Arabian Mud Rasul and outdoor hot tub. Once you’ve soaked yourself into a prune, take afternoon tea (or early-evening cocktails) at the Riverside Lounge and Mezzanine.
The best pet-friendly hotels in the Lake District
Pooches get free roam of Ravenstone Manor, which considers itself ‘the most dog friendly hotel in the Lakes’. The only places dogs aren’t allowed are in the kitchens and on the sitting room sofas, but there’s a garden for them to run around in, plus plenty of leisurely walks nearby. There’s even a temperature-controlled wash station to clean up muddy paws. You’ll be pleased to know that the relaxed and friendly atmosphere extends to human guests, too. There’s no front desk so it feels more like a home-away-from-home than a big hotel. But the crisp linens (keep those paws away), fluffy towels and luxury toiletries remind you that you’re staying somewhere special.
Lakeview Country House
Got a new lockdown pup? Don’t worry – every room at this boutique country house hotel in Grasmere is dog-friendly. As well as an acre of grounds for your pooch to play in, there’s also a private path for walks to nearby Grasmere Lake. The rooms are luxuriously decorated, with Egyptian cotton sheets on the king-size beds and deep-soak tubs in the bathrooms. Hidden away in the hotel grounds is the area’s best secret: Grasmere Brewery, where the owners make ale, cider and lager sold at their nearby pub, The Good Sport. Best of all, hotel guests get a 10% discount on food and drink. Talk about being a good sport.
Victorian House Hotel
Dog-friendly rooms at this boutique hotel offer direct garden access, wipeable flooring and a warm outdoor tap to keep four-legged friends (and the rooms themselves) clean after muddy walks. As well as being designed with pups in mind, Victorian House also offers family suites and romantic stargazer rooms with huge windows that are perfect for constellation spotting. The on-site restaurant is excellent, too, serving up locally sourced, seasonal full English breakfasts and cakes baked fresh each morning. Unwind in their Garden Room Bar with an artisan Lake District drink and a fresh pizza from pop-up in-house pizzeria, the Grasmere Pizza Co.
The best small Lake District hotels
Elim Bank Guesthouse
If you’re craving friendly, personal service while you ease back into post-lockdown life, check into Elim Bank Guesthouse in the heart of Bowness-on-Windermere. The owners, Symmoane and Adam Bowman, pride themselves on going the extra mile for customers. Guestrooms have nice touches, such as flannels for removing make-up, along with heatproof pads for hair straighteners. Guests with babies will be grateful for the Tommy Tippee bottle warmers and soft-sided barriers to make beds more tot-friendly. But the real highlight is the generous continental breakfast, which includes homemade compote and an impressive range of options for gluten-free travellers.
Applegarth Villa Hotel & Restaurant
Give your relationship a booster shot at the adults-only Applegarth Villa Hotel & Restaurant, in Windermere. You might be drawn in by its leisurely breakfasts and beautifully appointed rooms, but you’ll remember the hotel for the little luxuries that are offered at the press of a button. That could mean an ice-bucket of Champagne on arrival, rose petals strewn on the bed or a bouquet of flowers – or all three. Crank the romance up another notch by upgrading to one of the hotel’s seven Hot Tub Suites. Each one has its own outdoor jacuzzi set on a private terrace or balcony.
Hill Crest Country Guesthouse
This traditional bed and breakfast in Newby Bridge offers plenty of homely touches, such as tea and fresh-baked scones on arrival, and homemade biscuits to nibble on whenever the mood takes you. Each room is individually decorated in contemporary styles, and has superb views of the surrounding countryside thanks to the house’s slightly elevated position. Strike up conversations in the communal guest lounge to learn some tips about local walks and pubs from the landlady, or settle in for board games, books or Sky TV. Then it’s to bed, to dream about the breakfast of filled omelettes, kippers, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs that awaits you in the morning.
The best budget Lake District hotels
Wayfarer’s Independent Hostel
Just a short stroll from Penrith town centre, this modern hostel makes a great base for anyone exploring Eden Valley and the North Lakes on a budget. It’s especially great for active travellers. The C2C (Coast to Coast) cycle route passes within 100m of the front door, and with secure bike storage – plus cycle hire – it’s easy to explore on two wheels. All of the bedrooms have USB charging points and are en-suite, so there’s no midnight amble down the corridor to a communal loo. There’s a lounge with books and board games to help you rest up after those long bike rides, as well as an outdoor seating area for soaking up any rare English sunshine.
The George Hotel
There’s plenty of choice at this traditional country inn in the village of Orton, with eight rooms and space for four or five tent pitches. Run by a husband-and-wife team who recently took over the pub after being locals for 17 years, this place promises warm rooms and a warm welcome when you come in from your outdoors adventures. The inn is in an ideal location for two long-distance walking and cycling routes – the C2C and the W2W (Wear & Whitby). After a long day in the saddle, you’ve got just one decision to make. Will it be frosty pints of pale ale on the terrace, or a hot chocolate by the roaring log fire inside?
Ferndale Lodge Ambleside
Basic but brilliant, Ferndale Lodge is a relaxed bed and breakfast spread across a Victorian townhouse and a detached bungalow. The rooms are clean and simple, each equipped with an en-suite bathroom and tea and coffee making facilities. The Tourist Information Centre in Ambleside is just a short stroll away, while Windermere itself is less than a mile from the front door. There’s free private parking for your rental car and a full English breakfast on your plate every morning. Try to get one of the hill view rooms.
Explore the Lake District’s hidden gems this year
These Lake District hotels show that even if going abroad isn’t possible, you can still have a fantastic holiday in 2021. For even more options, browse hotels in the Lake District to find your perfect base.
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Lake District hotels FAQs
Some of the most popular towns in the Lake District are Hawkshead, Keswick, Grasmere, Bowness-on-Windermere, Ambleside, Coniston and Cartmel. The best one for you will depend on what you’re planning to see and do during your holiday.
There are more than 230 Lake District hotels listed on the Skyscanner website. Availability may vary depending on when you’re planning to visit.
It’s possible to visit the Lake District without a car, but you’ll be limited in terms of what you can see and do. Hiring a car makes it easy to explore different towns and villages, as well as enjoying walks in remote parts of the countryside. Most Lake District hotels have car parks. Remember to choose this filter when searching for accommodation so you have somewhere safe to leave your rental vehicle.
Spring and summer are the best times to visit, and Lake District hotels often book up well in advance during these times of year. The weather is mild, the days are long and you’ll get the chance to make the most of the great outdoors, hiking up hills and relaxing in waterside beer gardens. Autumn is also a lovely time to visit as the foliage cycles through vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange. In winter, there’s nothing better than booking a Lake District cottage and cosying up by the fire with a good paperback.
Want to read more?
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This article was last updated on July 29, 2021