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Best hotels in the Lake District for a quiet getaway in nature

Where to stay in the Cumbrian beauty spot

Olivia Blair,Hazel Davis,Jade Bremner
Monday 20 December 2021 11:10 GMT
Sunrise in Grasmere, the Lake District
Sunrise in Grasmere, the Lake District (Getty Images)

There’s a reason the Lake District is a Unesco World Heritage Site: it offers extraordinary landscapes, fantastic walks, peerless views... and some fantastic hotels from which to explore it all. Whether you’re planning to hike Scafell Pike, stroll around Lake Windermere, visit Wordsworth’s former home or simply cosy up in one of the many pubs, you’ll find somewhere to stay that suits your needs.

The Lake District is more accessible than you think, too, with trains from London Euston to Oxenholme taking under three hours, and the journey from Glasgow taking just over an hour and a half. So you can easily enjoy a long weekend in the Cumbrian beauty spot.

After a slew of new openings and refurbishments in recent years, there’s something for everyone when it comes to places to rest your head. From family-friendly to pet-friendly, luxury to budget, here are some of the best we’ve visited.

Best hotel for quintessentially English style: The Belsfield

Neighbourhood: Bowness-On-Windermere

The Belsfield enjoys a prime location on Lake Windermere (The Belsfield)

In a prime location overlooking Lake Windermere, it’s hard to compete with the view here. Nevertheless, the Belsfield tries – renovated in partnership with 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.

Best hotel for mini-moons: Gilpin Hotel and Lake House

Neighbourhood: Windermere

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

The Gilpin has a reputation as a couple’s and mini-mooners’ hotel – so it’s of little surprise the rates are high. The hotel is spread across the lodge, which has 25 rooms plus 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.

Best hotel for variety: The Swan

Neighbourhood: Newby Bridge

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

Best hotel for privacy: The Samling

Neighbourhood: Windermere

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

The Samling sits on 67 acres of land – with just 12 bedrooms, suites and cottages to share it. Guests get panoramic lake and mountain views, plus a private hot tub from which to enjoy them.

Best budget hotel: Hawksmoor Guest House

Neighbourhood: Windermere

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

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.

Best hotel for individual style: The Cranleigh

Neighbourhood: Bowness-on-Windermere

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

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

Best hotel for contemporary chic: Langdale Hotel & Spa

Neighbourhood: Windermere

The Langdale splits its accommodation between rooms and lodges (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.

Best hotel for deer-spotting: Armathwaite Hall Hotel

Neighbourhood: Bassenthwaite

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

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. The decor’s fairly traditional, in line with the castle-like exterior, but the dark wood furniture is pepped up with patterned sofas, colourful cushions and the odd statement wallpaper.

Best hotel for panoramic views: Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa

Neighbourhood: Bowness-on-Windermere

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

Best hotel for a proper lakeside experience: Cragwood Country House

Neighbourhood: Windermere

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.

Best hotel for nature: Haweswater Hotel

Neighbourhood: Bampton

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. You’re surrounded by myriad birdlife and there are red squirrels galore. The hotel is finished to a high standard but the vibe is still a classic one, with sleigh beds, original wooden floors and Art Deco fixtures and fittings.

Best hotel for literary lovers: Lindeth Howe

Neighbourhood: Bowness-on-Windermere

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. Although the writer no longer owns the property, 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).

Best hotel for romance: Askham Hall

Neighbourhood: Penrith

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 Michelin-starred menu lovingly curated and cooked by head chef Richard Swale.

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Best hotel for luxury: The Forest Side Hotel

Neighbourhood: Grasmere

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.

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