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The Daffodil Hotel & Spa

The 13 best hotels in the Lake District

These charming country houses, low-key inns and luxury hotels are some of the best hotels in the idyllic Lake District

Written by
Rob Martin
Ruth Jarvis
Rhys Thomas
Georgia Evans
Alex Floyd-Douglass

As the UK's most visited national park, the captivating, enigmatic Lake District is just about as English as landscapes come. Forged from glaciers, (remember those old geography classes anyone?) this UNESCO site is one of the UK's most popular tourist hotspots for visitors domestic and international.

And whilst people flock to the Lake District because of the history, the walking, the breathtaking scenery, picturesque villages and the, well, lakes, after all of that you really do need a place of comfort, of great food, log fires, and luxurious spas to rest your weary bones.

Long gone are the days of cobwebby damp B&Bs – style and quality are on the up in the region so it's worth checking out these incredible Lake District hotels right now, as this is just about the perfect time to explore this fascinating, beautiful part of the world. From remote bivouacs and remote stays to lakeside luxury and world-famous hotels that draw people from all over the world, here’s our pick of the best hotels in the Lake District to start booking now. 

Recommended: the best Airbnbs in the Lake District
Recommended: the best things to do in the Lake District

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Best hotels in the Lake District

The Forest Side in Grasmere

1. The Forest Side in Grasmere

William Wordsworth came to Grasmere for the simple life, and you can still tramp into the fells from here, but the new Forest Side hotel is all about sophistication. This gothic manor has been transformed into delicately beautiful, eco-friendly lodgings conceived around all things Lake District – even the carpets woven from Herdwick wool are sourced locally. The Michelin-starred restaurant doesn’t just use Cumbrian ingredients, it grows, pickles and forages them then confects them into unforgettable tasting menus. So when we say this place's grub tastes like no other, we really mean it. In addition to the wonderful interiors, great location and amazing food – they're dog friendly. What more could you want?

The Daffodil Hotel and Spa in Grasmere

2. The Daffodil Hotel and Spa in Grasmere

Found just a short walk away from Grasmere village, on the shores of Grasmere, the Ambleside does grandeur as few others can – or any hotel can, honestly. The Daffodil is a sunning mid-nineteenth-century mansion, but don’t go thinking this is a stuffy old house that relies on its looks. In fact, the Lake District hotel is about as contemporary as they come, offering a high-end, high-spec spa, seriously swanky rooms and some of the best dining in the area. Plus, the service is nothing short of exceptional.

Kirkstile Inn in Loweswater

3. Kirkstile Inn in Loweswater

You won’t find anything flashy at this remote inn in the quiet western Lakes. Instead, you’ll be impressed by the warm hospitality, delicious food and great real ales (with many brewed in the Lakes). Oh, and there’s fantastic walking as Kirkstile Inn is between Loweswater and Crummock Water, bang up against Melbreak crag. The cosy bedrooms come beamed and decked out in classic cottage furnishings, while the traditional pub fare comes impeccably sourced and cooked, with no foam in sight. Just that proper good food! And a whole menu just for sausages – come on!

Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa in Keswick

4. Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa in Keswick

If quality food and a dose of relaxation sounds just as appealing as rambling through boundless countryside, then this Lodore Falls hotel is your dream spot. While the main hotel remains mostly traditional, with an elegant British-led dining room and cosy lounges warmed by open fires, Mizu, its recently-opened pan-Asian restaurant, offers first-rate sushi, tempura and rice dishes in a modern setting. Then there’s the brand-new spa (plus 18 adjoining suites), so you might not make it out for a walk after all. There's also great afternoon tea, and the spot is dog friendly, so your nan and your pooch can come along too.

Gilpin Hotel & Lake House on Bowness-in-Windermere

5. Gilpin Hotel & Lake House on Bowness-in-Windermere

This Georgian estate has defined informal Lakes luxury for three decades, pioneering ‘boutique’ with its handful of stylish rooms, hideaway location and unstinting personal service. It regularly renews its offer, most recently by adding five gorgeous ‘spa lodges’, each with a steam room, hydrotherapy tub and outdoor sauna. Three high-end restaurants, a Champagne bar, a croquet lawn and a no-weddings rule keep it exclusive. Yes, you did read that, THREE of them. They also specialise in local cuisines – it's real Lake District luxury. We haven't even mentioned the private hot tubs.

Nanny Brow in Ambleside
Photograph: Courtesy

6. Nanny Brow in Ambleside

Devotees of the Arts & Crafts movement will love this top-drawer B&B in Ambleside. The house – built by architect Francis Whitwell in 1904 – has been beautifully restored, and each bedroom is individually decorated. All the rooms have antique furniture and up-to-the-minute bathrooms; many have glorious views. There’s a bar and lounge too, with board games available. Any number of walks, long and short, can be embarked on from the house (itself set in a six-acre garden), and guided walks may be pre-booked. Breakfast, featuring local produce wherever possible, will set you up for the day. Basically right, it's a five-star, award-winning, bed and breakfast, in a prime Lake District location. It's absolutely everything you'd expect such a phrase to be. 

Ambleside Salutation Hotel in Ambleside

7. Ambleside Salutation Hotel in Ambleside

Ambleside Salutation Hotel is at the heart of its hometown in more ways than one. First, location – step right out onto the main shopping street or the track up to knobbly Wansfell Pike, which is also the view from the spa. Second, it’s a local institution, knitted into the community and known for the splashiest Christmas lights in town. This hotel offers distinctly top-end suites alongside mid-range rooms and high-standard public areas such as the restaurant. It’s also set in a gorgeous 17th-century building while providing all the modern amenities you could need. 

The Masons Arms in Bowland Bridge

8. The Masons Arms in Bowland Bridge

A characterful warren of interconnecting rooms, low ceilings and fireside nooks, the Masons has been a favourite among locals for decades. A beer menu as long as the phone book (quality and quantity though it must be said), a capacious heated terrace with heaters and a crowd-pleasing pubby menu haven’t harmed. Its charms have survived the addition of accommodation, which comprises cottages with an open fire and suites, attractively done out in contemporary country style. Convenient for Windermere, but pleasantly removed from its tourist traffic. 

Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel in Windermere

9. Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel in Windermere

Holbeck Ghyll hosted Renée Zellweger during the filming of Miss Potter (in the Beatrix Potter suite, naturally). This big name in the Lake District country house hotel scene, the former Victorian hunting lodge retains its historical charm with a panelled hall, inglenook fireplace and the odd four-poster. The decor ranges from flouncy and floral to trad and tartan, while the restaurant is known for its sophisticated modern British menu and the spa boasts wonderful rooms. But really, the selling point here is the view over Windermere to the Coniston crags. It’s a lovely spot to call home after wandering through all the hills and mountains.

The Perky Pike in Keswick

10. The Perky Pike in Keswick

This handsome stone house in Keswick is one of the newest and nicest B&Bs in the Lake District. There are two rooms (doubles or twins), kitted out with organic sheets and Egyptian cotton towels, simply but prettily decorated. They’re also large enough to house a table, which is handy because you’ll have a groaningly large breakfast including Cumberland sausage. black pudding and bacon in the room. Also, in terms of those walks, you're probably here for? Yeah, it has them. It has them in spades. Derwentwater, Cat Bells, and Whinlatter Forest Park are very easily accessible. There's also a theatre by the lake if the scenery isn't dramatic enough.

The Wordsworth Hotel in Grasmere
Photograph: The Wordsworth Hotel

11. The Wordsworth Hotel in Grasmere

What could be more Lake District than Wordsworth? And what more could you want from a Lake District hotel than a magnificent building sitting on two acres of land in the heart of Grasmere? This elegantly restored building is a truly grand country mansion, with 38 rooms, a pool and a spa plus an award-winning restaurant (the wines are particularly good), mark the Wordsworth out as a perfect place for food, relaxing or getting back to nature.

L’Enclume near Grange over Sands
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Uli B.

12. L’Enclume near Grange over Sands

L’Enclume is the two-Michelin-star (not one, two) home base of superchef Simon Rogan, and it has 16 rooms in its riverside premises, a stone-built smithy, which share its restrained elegance. Known for its 12th-century priory, Cartmel has recently become a gastronomic destination, with notable cheeseries, bakeries and breweries and another Rogan restaurant. Foodies enamoured of his nature-to-table creed can arrange to tour the nearby farm. If you're more into the food than the walking, Aulis at L'Enclume is well worth the time. It sits six people, and it'll show you the highlights of the test kitchen. Real "into food" stuff. 

YHA Black Sail in Matlock
Photograph: Courtesy YHA Black Sail

13. YHA Black Sail in Matlock

The address of the Lake District’s most remote lodgings might as well be ‘The Middle of Nowhere’ – it’s over two miles from the nearest road, and you have to walk or cycle in. The YHA Black Sail hostel is a barn-like building made of local stone, set at the head of Ennerdale, with fellsides and summits all around. Dinner, breakfast, packed lunch and a warming woodstove are provided, along with dorm beds and private rooms. If you're looking for a stone-walled barn which is serious living on the land tranquillity, then don't worry about the other pieces on the list, because this is the one. Home-cooked evening meals, it's just the one, isn't it? 

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