Visitors to the United Kingdom often flock to the cities of London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. But where do you go when you want to enjoy the Great British outdoors? Yes, the Scottish Highlands are undoubtedly stunning, but they can be challenging to get to. Perhaps more accessible is the Lake District National Park in England’s northwest – the second largest national park in the UK.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and has some of the best walking trails in England. It’s no wonder the area’s beauty has inspired many poets and authors.
Before you start making plans, you’ll need to know where you’re going to stay in the Lake District, and that can be a little bit of a problem. Visiting the Lake District can be rather expensive, and it can be tricky to get to and from different towns and villages.
However, one of its saving graces is the excellent network of backpacker hostels in Lake District. This will make your trip easier and cheaper, and you might just meet other like-minded travellers along the way.
I’ve decided to give you a hand with this list of the best hostels in the Lake District. They’re scattered across the national park, so be sure to check the location is right for you – as well as your budget and travel style. Let’s take a closer look!
Quick Answer: The Best Hostels in Lake District
- Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Lake District – YHA Ambleside
What to Expect from Hostels in the Lake District
Often called the most gorgeous area in the UK, the Lake District National Park looks like somewhere from a fairytale. However, England is still one of the most expensive countries to visit, and hotels and holiday houses in the Lake District can be rather expensive.
Fortunately, as expensive as the Lake District may be, you don’t have to spend a load of money on where to stay. There are a ton of hostels in the area that are considerably cheaper than hotels.
While the Lake District hostels are generally smaller than hotels, what you get back is a cheap place to stay in the adventure capital of the UK. They also have a unique social atmosphere that you won’t find elsewhere – so if you want to find some friends to do some outdoor activities with, a hostel is the place to find them.
Some of the best Lake District hostels are built in attractive Georgian townhouses or cottages, so you still get the other-worldly experience that you would in a vacation rental. The common areas in hostels are the ideal places to meet backpackers from all over the world, exchange a few travel stories, and explore the great outdoors together.
Hostels are usually run by locals who can offer a unique perspective to budget travelers looking to explore the area. They often go out of their way to ensure their guests have the best time, and are more than happy to share the area’s best-kept secrets.
Staying in hostels doesn’t mean skimping out on luxuries either. If you don’t fancy staying in dorm rooms, private rooms are mostly available too. Just like hotels, hostels also offer guests a few options, but if you’re on a budget, dorm rooms are the most affordable – the more people in a room, the cheaper.
If you’re lucky, you might even find a hostel with free breakfast, or at the very least a self catering kitchen and laundry facilities such as a washing machine and drying room.
Your hostel’s location can easily make or break your vacation. For first-time visitors, I recommend choosing a hostel in a historic market town, so you can get a real feel for the district. Opt for a hostel with free parking, so if you’re planning a road trip in the Lake District, you don’t have to worry about where you leave your car.
Choose a hostel within proximity of bars, restaurants, stores, local markets, as well as bus stations for convenience.
- Dorm rooms – from $30 to $80
- Private rooms – from $40 to $180
HOSTELWORLD is the best place to find hostels in the Lake District. With due diligence, you will be able to find one that suits all of your needs. Check the photos, read the description, and take a look at the reviews before booking to avoid unpleasant surprises.
5 Best Hostels in the Lake District
I’m sure you don’t need any more convincing to explore the Lake District. But where do you want to go? Boating on the waters of Windermere? Walking in Keswick? Or perhaps you’d like to be in the charming town of Kendal.
Location is very important in this area. That’s why you need to do some research on where to stay in the Lake District before you start your travels as well as find a hostel suited to your tastes. Let’s take a look at ten of the best Lake District hostels.
Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Lake District – YHA Ambleside
- Lakeside location
- Modern cosy restaurant
- Shared kitchen
Ambleside sits on the shore of the largest lake in England – Windermere. This hostel has a prime location by the water. The town is one of the adventure capitals in the region, with several shops where you can rent or buy equipment. However, you don’t need to leave the town to have an adventure – you can just get out onto Windermere or go for a walk!
When you come back from a strenuous and busy day, just head to the modern, cosy restaurant for a bite to eat. If you’d rather keep your costs down, you can whip something up in the shared kitchen.
- Great location
- Shared kitchen
- Secure bike shed
It wasn’t easy choosing the best overall hostel in the Lake District, but due to its location in a large town (making it a good base) and excellent reviews, I’ve gone for Kendal Hostel. It’s easy for solo travellers to make friends in the common room, and it’s also suitable for groups of friends and families.
Set in a Georgian townhouse, it’s right in the centre of Kendal town. The good news is that from Kendal, the public transport easily connects to Ambleside, Grasmere, Keswick, and other popular places to go in the Lake District. However, it’s easier to make the most of your journey by renting (or owning) a car and going on a road trip in the Lake District.
Kendal Hostel is one of our favourites in Lake District but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
- Self Catering Facilities
- Lounge and dining area
- Book collection
It’s not often you find a hostel with bed prices that start cheaper than camping, but that’s exactly what you’ll get in the village of Elterwater. With beds starting at less than £4, you’ll be lucky to find any cheaper hostels in England! Elterwater’s nearest large town is Ambleside – either 20 minutes on public transport or 1.5 hours by foot.
Despite being inexpensive, it’s more than just a bed. There’s a restaurant on-site, a fully equipped kitchen, and a gorgeous garden where you can enjoy a book borrowed from the collection!
Elterwater Hostel is one of our favourites in Lake District but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.
Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!View on Osprey View on REI
Best Hostel for Families in Lake District – YHA Patterdale
- Beautiful scenery
- Free parking
- Toys, games and DVDs
Want to climb one of the most challenging peaks in the Lake District, Helvellyn? This retro hostel on the shores of Ullswater is the perfect base. It’s on the east side of the Lake District close-ish to Penrith with hiking trails easily accessible, but if you don’t fancy venturing out, you can be assured of a lot of fun on-site with regular Irish Ceilidhs and salsa weekends.
If you’re travelling with young children, there are plenty of games, toys, and DVDs to keep them busy. That’s if they’re not too tired from walking and biking!
YHA Patterdale is one of our favourites in Lake District but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Best Hostel for Couples in Lake District – YHA Eskdale
- Camping and cabins available
- Riverside location
- Land pods
Offering comfortable double rooms, cabins, and land pods, there’s a wealth of choices for couples on booking a weekend getaway in the Lake District. However, this is more than just a romantic Lake District hostel. It’s also a wonderful place for wildlife watching, with its very own nature trail and birdwatching hide.
Tucked away in nature about 20 minutes drive from the village of Holmrook, the gardens here cover 15 acres, so you’re sure to see something! The hostel doesn’t have Wi-Fi, but why would you need it with everything else to keep you entertained? It’s the perfect place to stay in the Lake District to disconnect and detox.
YHA Eskdale is one of our favourites in Lake District but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.
It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)Hide Yo’ Money!
More Epic Hostels in the Lake District
Haven’t found the right hostel for you yet? Don’t worry, I’ve got more darling examples of the glorious hostel life coming your way! Before you decide on your accommodation, make sure you know which of the awesome places in the Lake District you want to visit and choose your location accordingly.
- Excellent location
- Mountain bike hire
- Ping pong table
Still in the Derwentwater area, Keswick’s best hostel has a wide range of private rooms on offer. You wouldn’t think you were just a stone’s throw from the charming town centre when you’re looking out onto the River Greta, but here you get the best of both worlds.
Keswick is one of the best places to stay in the Lake District if you need help with planning your adventures. There are lots of shops where you can buy or rent equipment, including bike hire for those who want to try mountain biking, and plenty of locals to give you advice on the best things to do in the area.
Wayfarers Independent Hostel (Penrith)
- Near major transport links
- Bike hire available
- Kitchen and dining facilities
This one is cheating a little bit; Penrith isn’t actually in the Lake District. However, it’s just outside and is a major transport hub for both road and rail, so it’s still a good base.
While it’s popular with cyclists and walkers, I’d suggest staying here if you have a car, as public transport in the national park isn’t exactly frequent. The benefits of staying here are that you can also head east and make the most of the Eden Valley. Whichever way you go, there’ll be a comfortable bed and kitchen and dining facilities to return to.
YHA Wasdale Hall
- Awesome location
- Near Scafell Pike
- No Wi-Fi or phone signal
Another awesome place to stay if you’re interested in wildlife and the great outdoors, YHA Wasdale is near Scafell Pike on the western side of Lakes District. This rural retreat is on the shores of the deepest lake in England, Wasdale Water. The National Trust property is your opportunity to stay in a historic English building.
If you’re not an experienced climber, be sure to get some beginner hiking tips as well as local knowledge on Scafell. The weather is very changeable at the top, and it can be dangerous. Once you make it back safely, reward yourself with a drink at the bar.
YHA Wasdale Hall is one of our favourites in Lake District but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Derwentwater Independent Hostel
- Stunning lake views
- Near Keswick’s cafes and bars
- Free Wi-Fi
Some Lake District backpacker hostels don’t have Wi-Fi, which isn’t ideal for a digital nomad. Luckily, this beautiful hostel on the edge of Derwentwater Lake close to Keswick has plenty of space in the lounge for you to set up your laptop. If you’d rather visit a local cafe, you have the Lake District’s largest town right nearby – Keswick.
It’s a beautiful market town where you can get lots of information on things to do. Remember to give yourself a day off – many of the Lake District’s nicest walks and cycle rides need more than a few hours in the evening!
Derwentwater Independent Hostel is one of our favourites in Lake District but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
- Camping barn
- Bar and meals available
- Board games
The most westerly lake in the Lake District, Ennerdale Lake is not as popular as Windermere or Derwentwater. However, if you’re looking to get away from the crowds, that plays right into your hands! The hostel has room for 24 guests across the main building, camping barn, and campsite.
It’s eco-friendly too, with off-grid energy and its very own drinking water – be sure to fill up on that before embarking on a walk or bike ride! While it’s a little more off the beaten track than some of the hostels on this list, it’s still within easy driving distance of Cockermouth and Whitehaven.
YHA Ennerdale is one of our favourites in Lake District but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
- Sublime Lake District Bed and Breakfasts
What to Pack for your Lake District Hostel
Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from us, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straight forward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art we have perfected over many years.
Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.
Hanging Laundry Bag
Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.
Sea To Summit Micro Towel
Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.
Grayl Geopress Water Bottle
Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!
Check out our definitive Hostel Packing list for even more top hostel packing tips!
FAQ about Hostels in the Lake District
Here are some questions backpackers ask about hostels in the Lake District.
Travel Safety Tips for Lake District
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!
Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.
Final Thoughts on Hostels in the Lake District
Whether you want to scale England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, learn about pencils at one of the Derwent Pencil Museums – one of the more bizarre museums in the UK or spend your days walking along ridges and photographing stunning views, the Lake District is for you. And happily, there’s a hostel for you in there somewhere!
I’d usually remind you that if you were having trouble deciding between these ten impressive properties, to go for my top recommended hostel in the Lake District, Kendal Hostel. However, it’s not that simple this time. If you don’t have a set itinerary in mind, sure, go for it.
Rather than basing your choice solely on your travel style, look at the location, too. And don’t expect too much in the way of backpacker party hostels in the Lakes – that’s really not what it’s about here. Instead, these hostels will allow you to reconnect with nature and disconnect from pretty much everything else. Some of them don’t even have Wi-Fi!
Have you been to the Lake District? If so, I’d love to hear about your trip in the comments below. Let me know where you stayed and your best tips for travelling to the Lakes on a budget.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!