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The Lake District is a wonderful destination for a short break or a longer trip. It extends across 2,362 square kilometres (or 912 square miles) of Cumbria, covering spectacular mountain landscapes, buzzing market towns, historical sites and no less than 16 stunning lakes. It is a place that you should visit at least once, and one that will continue to surprise and delight each time you return. In this guide, we look at the best places to stay in the Lake District to give you some inspiration for your first, or next, trip to this beautiful part of the world.
For your escape to the Lake District, you may choose to base yourself in one location or travel around to fully appreciate the beauty and diversity of the area. So, we’ve selected some of the best places to stay in the Lake District to give you some ideas for your perfect itinerary.
If you’re coming here for the first time, you might wish to head for Windermere. Home to the area’s largest lake, the town itself is a buzzing hub that offers plenty of cosy cafes, traditional pubs and Lake District charm, plus a mainline train station.
The main attraction here is lovely Lake Windermere, which is also England’s largest natural lake. You can rent a boat and take a leisurely trip across the calm water or you can join an organised trip and let someone else do the navigating! If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can enjoy walking and biking in the local area. The Lake District National Park Authority Visitor Centre is a great place to start your adventure.
When it’s time for some refreshments, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Windermere, whether you’re looking for fine dining, a relaxing drink or more casual fare. Popular venues include The Windermere Speakeasy, a daytime coffee house and evening cocktail bar, Cafe Italia, which features Italian favourites, and The Crafty Baa, a quaint and cosy pub.
From Windermere, you can visit the nearby tourist hub of Bowness-on-Windermere, where you can celebrate the area’s rich history, including its links with author Beatrix Potter. If you’re feeling energetic, head to Orrest Head Viewpoint, which is worth the climb to enjoy the stunning views.
Fancy a trip to Windermere? Take a look at our packages at the Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa.
Head north from Windermere to find pretty Ambleside. Located at the head of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is particularly popular with walkers. It is another bustling hub that is a great base for exploring the area.
Ambleside is one of the best places to stay in the Lake District for walking and hiking, with plenty of trails to explore. Head out to discover stunning Stock Ghyll Force, a 70-foot waterfall, and Rydal Cave. For a more sedate outing, pay a visit to the National Trust’s Stagshaw Gardens or the Bridge House over the Stock Ghyll beck. You can also enjoy the water-based activities of Lake Windermere.
Ambleside has become a tourist hub, offering lots to do and plenty of places to relax and enjoy a bite to eat. Popular options include the Copper Pot, a rustic cafe, and Lucy's On A Plate, which features an open fire, conservatory and walled garden.
Nearby, you can find Ambleside Roman Fort. You can also take a short drive to Rydal Water and Grasmere, two of the area’s smaller lakes. Grasmere itself is a lovely town that offers access to such attractions as Wordsworth Grasmere, the former home of the poet William Wordsworth.
Fancy a trip to Ambleside? Take a look at our packages at the Langdale Hotel and Spa (contact us to book).
Another of our favourite places to stay in the Lake District is Penrith. It is a vibrant town, with lots of shops and dining options, as well as direct train links to London, Glasgow and Manchester.
Penrith offers access to the second largest lake in the area, Ullswater. The busy town is also home to the wonderful 14th-century Penrith Castle. Indeed, if you love visiting historic places, this is one of the best places to stay in the Lake District, with Penrith Museum and Mayburgh Henge among its attractions.
Penrith has food and drink options to suit all tastes and budgets. Popular venues include The Clickham Inn, a traditional English pub, and Grants of CastleGate, a bistro and bar serving British cuisine.
From Penrith, you can head out to enjoy the beauty of the North Pennines. You can even attempt to climb Cross Fell, the highest peak in the Pennine Hills, which offers fantastic views. You can also visit Bassenthwaite Lake and explore the small towns, villages and natural attractions around Ullswater, including Aira Force Waterfall.
Fancy a trip to Penrith? Take a look at our packages at The North Lakes Hotel & Spa.
If you’re seeking a lower-key Lake District getaway, Armathwaite is one of the best places to stay in the Lake District. The local train station offers regular links to nearby Carlisle.
The picturesque village of Armathwaite is a wonderful place in which to soak up the beautiful surroundings. Enjoy gentle riverside walks along the banks of the lovely River Eden, which flows through the village. The nearest lake is Bassenthwaite, while Ullswater is also within easy reach.
If you love traditional pubs, be sure to stop by The Dukes Head Inn or Fox and Pheasant Inn, which are both popular venues where you can enjoy a quiet drink and a delicious meal in cosy surroundings.
Armathwaite is a great base from which to head out to explore the North Pennines. You can also take a trip to nearby Penrith, which, as we noted above, features lots of great shopping and dining options. Armathwaite is within easy reach of the Scottish border, with Dumfries and its historic riverside area less than an hour’s drive away.
Fancy a trip to Armathwaite? Take a look at our packages at Armathwaite Hall Country House and Spa.
Also on the River Eden, you’ll find the charming market town of Appleby-in-Westmorland on the edge of the Lake District. The town is a great base for exploring the area, with direct train links from Leeds and Carlisle.
While you’re here, you can pay a visit to Appleby Castle, take riverside walks, and enjoy a stroll along Boroughgate, the town’s main street, known as one of the finest in England. Just outside the town, you’ll find the impressive Ormside Viaduct, while the nearest lake is Ullswater.
Again, if you enjoy traditional fare and welcoming country pubs, you’ll be right at home in Appleby-in-Westmorland. For a quiet drink, head to the New Inn or Royal Oak Inn, both located a pleasant stroll from the town.
As well as being within easy reach of the attractions of Penrith, Appleby-in-Westmorland offers access to some great walks and bike rides. These include the Cumbria Cycle Way, the Westmorland Way, and the Pennine Way.
Fancy a trip to Appleby-in-Westmorland? Take a look at our packages at Appleby Manor Country House Hotel.
Another of our favourite places to stay in the Lake District is the attractive and vibrant market town of Keswick. Served by regular buses from Penrith, the town is a great base from which to explore the north-west region of Lake District National Park.
Keswick is located next to Derwentwater, so you can enjoy lakeside walks and boat trips. It is also a great place to stay in the Lake District if you like more full-on outdoor activities, such as fell walking, climbing and mountain biking. Surrounded by mountains, including Blencathra and Skiddaw, the town itself is a bustling hub, with shopping, dining and culture. Pay a visit to Keswick Museum or enjoy a performance at the Theatre By The Lake.
Keswick has plenty of drinking and dining options. Popular favourites include the welcoming Fellpack and The Wainwright Pub, both of which are located in the heart of Keswick.
From Keswick, you can head to nearby Castlerigg Stone Circle, said to be 5,000 years old. You can also take the short drive to Bassenthwaite Lake and explore the surrounding villages, while picturesque Crummock Water is within easy reach.
Fancy a trip to Keswick? Take a look at our packages at Armathwaite Hall Country House and Spa.
The calm beauty of the Lake District lends itself perfectly to a relaxing spa day or overnight spa break. We bring you plenty of superb options for Lake District accommodation and spa pampering. Here are just a few of our favourite packages:
The 1 Night Dinner, Bed and Breakfast Break at Armathwaite Hall Country House and Spa, a luxury Lake District hotel, offers overnight accommodation, a £45 per person allocation towards dinner in the Lake View Restaurant, a full Cumbrian breakfast, plus access to the beautiful grounds and gardens. Book now.
The Morning Ritual package at The North Lakes Hotel & Spa features two treatments, a two-course lunch, and two hours use of the leisure facilities, leaving you plenty of time for sightseeing! Book now.
The Classic Spa Day at the Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa features full use of the leisure facilities, including a swimming pool and thermal suite, plus the choice of one luxurious 55-minute treatment. Book now.
The 1 Night Blissful Spa Break at Appleby Manor features overnight accommodation, a three-course bistro dinner, and a full English breakfast, plus full use of the leisure facilities and the choice of one 25-minute treatment from a menu of options. Book now.