The Lake District is one of the most scenic regions in England. With its magnificent mountain fells, pristine lakes and tarns, and sweeping green valleys, the region is absolutely spectacular.
But the Lake District is massive and choosing which town or village to stay in can be overwhelming. That’s exactly why we put together this in-depth guide for where to stay in the Lake District.
This article was written by our expert travel guides. It lists the best towns and villages in the Lake District and organizes them based on your travel needs. So no matter what you’re looking to do, you’ll be able to find the perfect village for your trip. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to book with confidence and ease – we guarantee it!
Let’s get right to it. Here are our top picks for where to stay in the Lake District, England.
- Where to Stay in the Lake District
- Lake District Area and Village Guide
- Lake District’s 5 Best Places to Stay
- 1. Ambleside – Where to stay in Lake District on a First Time Visit
- 2. Grasmere – Best Place to Stay in Lake District on a Budget
- 3. Keswick – Best Town to Stay in Lake District for Nightlife
- 4. Kendal – Coolest Place to Stay in Lake District
- 5. Bowness-on-Windermere – Best Place in Lake District for Families to Stay
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Lake District.
Best Airbnb in Lake District: Modern fittings in a rustic cottage
Just of Ambleside’s main market square, this charming little local cottage that’s been kitted out with everything you’ll need. There’s a generous kitchen, and the onsite parking makes it great for exploring the region at your own pace.
Best Hostel in Keswick: YHA Keswick
This hostel is ideally located in Keswick. It’s only minutes away from the lively town centre and is a short walk to dining, shopping and nightlife options. They provide comfortable rooms, a kitchen, free wifi, and linens. They also offer on-site bike hires and a drying room for gear. This is one of the best hostels one can find in Lake District, so you can look forward to a real treat!
Best Hotel in Lake District: Skiddaw Hotel Keswick
The Skiddaw Hotel is conveniently located in Keswick. It has restaurants, pubs and the national park on its doorstep. This hotel has a relaxing sauna, perfect for unwinding after a long day. Rooms are comfortable and well-equipped. All of this combined makes it our top pick for the best Lake District hotel.
Ambleside is a small village located near the heart of the Lake District. It is set on the northern shores of Lake Windermere and enjoys incredible views of the National Park
Located slightly north of Ambleside is the idyllic village of Grasmere. One of the cutest towns in the Lake District, Grasmere is perfect for travellers and tourists looking for a quiet, serene and peaceful base surrounded by stunning nature
Keswick is one of the largest towns in the Lake District. It is set on the shores of stunning Derwentwater Lake and is the northern tourist hub for the region
Kendal is a picturesque town set on the southern border of Lake District National Park. A moderately sized market town, Kendal boasts a population for approximately 30,000 people and is packed with shopping, dining and sightseeing options
This small and centrally located village is the main tourist centre for the South Lakes area of the Lake District. It can be found on the right banks of Lake Windermere and boasts incredible views of the sloping hills
The Lake District is a stunning and scenic region located in Northwest England. A popular holiday destination, this the Lake District area is famous for its beautiful sights and attractions including shimmering lakes, majestic forests, and its towering mountains or fells. One of the most beautiful places in the UK, the Lake District has inspired travellers, artists and writers for hundreds of years.
Set entirely within the county of Cumbria, the Lake District covers an area of 2,362 square kilometres. It welcomes more than 19 million visitors annually and is home to more than 41,000 people.
There are hundreds of towns, villages and hamlets scattered throughout the region. This guide will explore the “can’t miss” activities and attractions in the five best towns, villages and places to stay in Lake District.
Starting with Kendal. Set at the south-east corner of the Lake District, Kendal is the “Gateway to the Lakes.” This picturesque town boasts plenty of options for shopping, sightseeing and nightlife.
Head northwest to Bowness-on-Windermere. One of the main tourist centres within the park, this small town has great attractions for the whole family.
Continue travelling north along the shores of Windermere Lake and you’ll pass through Ambleside. Set at the centre of the park, this small village is an ideal base for exploring the region. It also has plenty of attractions as well as restaurants and shops to enjoy.
A bit further north is Grasmere. One of the cutest villages in the Lake District, Grasmere has charming shops, stunning scenery, and one of the best hostels in the area.
And finally, north of Grasmere is Keswick. A proper town located in the north of the Lake District, Keswick has great restaurants and shops, bars, as well as access to nature and hiking. If you’re looking for an awesome weekend in Lake District, Keswick is the place to go!
Still not sure where to stay? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Lake District’s 5 Best Places to Stay
In this next section, we’ll take a look, in more detail, at the Lake District’s five best villages to stay in. The village you choose will depend on your travel interests, so be sure to read each section carefully and pick the village that’s right for you.
Ambleside is a small village located near the heart of the Lake District. It is set on the northern shores of Lake Windermere and enjoys incredible views of the National Park. Well-connected throughout the Lake District, Ambleside makes for an ideal base when exploring the region. It’s also our recommendation for where to stay in the Lake District if you’re visiting for the first time.
A popular destination for walkers, trekkers and outdoor enthusiasts, Ambleside gives travellers a front-row seat to adventure. This small English village is close to trailheads and the starting point for some of the district’s most scenic walks.
Things to See and Do in Ambleside
- Climb to the top of Black Fell, a 323-meter tall peak.
- Eat delicious food at Gandhi’s Café.
- Enjoy amazing views from Loughrigg Fell.
- Explore the grounds of Wray Castle.
- Grab a pint at the Golden Rule.
- Rest and relax at the Ambleside Waterhead.
- Satisfy your appetite at The Old Stamp House Restaurant.
- See the Stock Ghyll Force, a spectacular 21-meter tall waterfall.
- View an exquisite collection of artefacts at The Armitt Library and Museum.
- Visit the Bridge House, a historic home dating back to the 17th-century.
- Wander throughout the Stagshaw Gardens.
Beautiful Cottage in Ambleside: Modern fittings in a rustic cottage
Just outside of Ambleside’s main market square, this beautiful Lake District cottage has been kitted out with everything you’ll need for a relaxed holiday retreat. There’s a generous kitchen, and the onsite parking makes it great for exploring the region at your own pace.
Best Hostel in Ambleside: YHA Ambleside
This is one of the largest hostels in the region. It has 64 bedrooms with comfortable beds, reading lights and free wifi. Set on the shores of Lake Windermere, this hostel offers breathtaking views and an ideal location. It also has a modern and cosy restaurant, serving up delicious and filling meals.
Best Hotel in Ambleside: The Gables Guesthouse
The Gables Guesthouse makes for a fantastic base for your time in Ambleside. It is conveniently located near well-known nightlife destinations and is a short walk to restaurants, shops, pubs and attractions. This hotel has 12 charming rooms outfitted with modern amenities and a variety of features to ensure a comfortable stay.
Best Hotel in Ambleside: Wateredge Inn
The Wateredge Inn is our choice for where to stay in Ambleside. Set at the heart of the village, this four-star hotel is close to all the area’s top attractions. It boasts relaxing rooms with flat-screen TVs, coffee/tea facilities and plenty of wellness features. You’ll also enjoy a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.
Located slightly north of Ambleside is the idyllic village of Grasmere. One of the cutest towns in the Lake District, Grasmere is perfect for travellers and tourists looking for a quiet, serene and peaceful base surrounded by stunning nature. For photographers, painters, artists and enthusiasts, Grasmere is a wonderful place to stay just to enjoy and be inspired by all the views.
Grasmere is also where a handful of good options for cheap accommodation are which is perfect for budget backpackers exploring the UK. This area of the UK is a notoriously expensive holiday region, but in Grasmere, you’ll have your pick of high quality, good value hostels, hotels and guesthouses.
Things to See and Do in Grasmere
- Climb to the top of Helm Crag.
- Dine on traditional English roast at Goody Blake’s.
- Enjoy a scenic walk up Easdale Tarn.
- Explore the grounds of Allan Bank.
- Go for a stroll around Lake Grasmere.
- Hike to the Old Man of Coniston.
- Sample spicy and sweet cookies and treats at The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.
- See St. Oswald’s Church.
- Sip cappuccinos at Lucia’s.
- Stop for a spot of tea and a clotted cream scone at Faeryland.
- Take in the views from Alcock Tarn.
- Visit Dove Cottage, home to Williams Wordsworth, Britain’s best-loved poet.
- Wander through the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden.
Cosy Cottage Getaway in Grasmere: Teal Nook in the Heart of Grasmere
Privacy is the name of the game at this Grasmere cottage getaway – private parking, a private garden, and a (semi) private balcony. The interior is a small yet extremely warm and comfortable space presenting gorgeous views of the rolling green countryside from the windows and balcony. To top it all off, there’s an indoor fireplace for curling up beside after the adventures!
Best Cottage in Grasmere – Hollens Farm Cottage
Since hostels are hard to find in Grasmere, we’ve given you an even better option. This cute cottage is the perfect place to stay on Grasmere for solo travellers, couples, small familes or a froup of friends. So yes, basically everyone will love this cute home. Parking space and Wifi is included, while the nightly rate is one of the lowest you can find in the area.
Best Hotel in Grasmere: Macdonald Swan Hotel
The Macdonald Swan Hotel is our choice for where to stay in Grasmere. This charming three-star hotel is ideally located for exploring the Lake District. It provides pleasant rooms, beautiful views, and free wifi throughout the property. Guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink in the lounge.
Best Hotel in Grasmere: The Travellers Rest Inn
Clean rooms, a fantastic bar and wonderful staff – it’s no wonder we love this hotel. Set in Grasmere, this cosy hotel has 10 modern rooms with excellent amenities. It boasts a restaurant and bar where guests can relax after a long day of adventures. Nearby you’ll find cafes, restaurants and shops.
Keswick is one of the largest towns in the Lake District. It is set on the shores of stunning Derwentwater Lake and is the northern tourist hub for the region. A haven for walkers and climbers, Keswick allows for easy access to the mountains, the lake, and all that the National Park has to offer.
It also wins our vote for where to stay in the Lake District for nightlife. Although you won’t find a vast array of nightclubs and dancefloors, Keswick does boast a fun and thriving pub scene with live music, good drinks and plenty of great times.
Things to See and Do in Keswick
- Blow your mind with the optical illusions at The Puzzling Place.
- Browse the exhibits at the Keswick Museum.
- Catch a show at the Theatre by the Lake.
- Dance the night away at The Loft Nightclub, Keswick’s only discotheque.
- Eat tasty pizza and tapas at The Square Orange Café Bar.
- Enjoy the beautiful scenery on the Catbells Lakeland Walk.
- Explore England’s last remaining working slate mine, Honister Slate Mine.
- Grab a few drinks at The White Horse Inn and Bunkhouse.
- Root for the home team at Casas Keswick, a pleasant sports bar.
- Satisfy your appetite at the George.
- Take a tour and enjoy a few samples at The Keswick Brewing Company.
- Trek the Keswick Railway Path.
Luxury Suite in Keswick: Vegan Luxury ‘Rest Wing’ in Keswick
Yes, indeed, this place is designed by vegans and for vegans (or the vegan-curious). That means you can’t bring any animal products onto the property, but more than that, even the houses furnishings are completely vegan and cruelty-free. As for the space itself? Extremely quaint and charming, set on an acre of gorgeous property, and complete with amazing views of the surrounding fells.
Best Hostel in Keswick: YHA Keswick
This hostel is ideally located in Keswick. It’s only minutes away from the lively town centre and is a short walk to dining, shopping and nightlife options. They provide comfortable rooms, a kitchen, free wifi, and linens. They also offer on-site bike hires and a drying room for gear.
Best Hotel in Keswick: Skiddaw Hotel Keswick
The Skiddaw Hotel is conveniently located. It has restaurants, pubs and Lake District National Park on its doorstep. This hotel has a relaxing sauna, perfect for unwinding after a long day. Rooms are comfortable and well-equipped. All of this combined makes it our pick for where to stay in Keswick.
Best Hotel in Keswick: The Royal Oak at Keswick
This fantastic four-star hotel is situated in the centre of Keswick. It is close to top tourist attractions and there is a vast array of restaurants and pubs nearby. It boasts relaxed rooms with private baths and modern features. There’s also an on-site restaurant and luggage storage.
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Kendal is a picturesque town set on the southern border of Lake District National Park. A moderately sized market town, Kendal boasts a population for approximately 30,000 people and is packed with shopping, dining and sightseeing options. Despite its strategic location, Kendal is often overlooked by travellers and tour groups, which is why it’s our pick for the coolest place to stay in the Lake District.
This town lets travellers enjoy the best of both worlds. It offers easy access to hiking trails and luscious nature, while at the same time it boasts a great selection of local and independent shops and boutiques. Whether you want to trek to the top or shop until you drop, Kendal is for you!
Things to See and Do in Kendal
- Admire great works of art at Abbot Hall Art Gallery.
- Dine on traditional pub fare at Ring O’ Bells.
- Drink pints at the Black Labrador.
- Enjoy beautiful views from Kendal Castle.
- Explore the grounds of Levens Hall.
- Listen to live music at the Factory Tap.
- Pick up a few quirky pieces at The Antiques Emporium.
- See a fascinating collection of artefacts at Kendal Museum.
- Spend a night enjoying good food and a show at the Brewery Arts Centre.
- Step back in time at the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry.
- Visit Sizergh Castle.
Beautiful Bungalow in Kendal: Aime’s Annexe
An attached but self-contained bungalow with its own private entrance and complete with its own dedicated and private outdoor space. Located in a quiet residential area of Kendal, the centre is only a short walk away along the old canal cycleway. It’s a lovely place to stay – especially with the fireplace lit – as well as an awesome base of exploration for bicycle trips.
Best Hostel in Kendal: Kendal Hostel
The Kendal Hostel is built in an attractive Georgian townhouse in the centre of town. It’s adjacent to the Brewery Arts Centre and a number of restaurants, pubs and shops. This hotel has 13 comfortable and spacious room. They also provide a kitchen, a social space, wash facilities and a drying room.
Best Hotel in Kendal: Castle Green Hotel In Kendal
Conveniently located in Kendal is the Castle Green Hotel – our pick for where to stay in Kendal! This four-star hotel offers an indoor pool, a gym, a terrace and a bar. Breakfast is also available. It’s a fantastic option for travellers looking to explore, eat, shop or drink.
Best Hotel in Kendal: Riverside Hotel Kendal
This hotel is strategically located in Kendal. It is close to the railway station, lots of shops, and delicious cafes and restaurants. They offer a fitness centre, a sun deck, an indoor pool and a sauna. Enjoy a relaxing and comfortable stay at this three-star hotel.
This small and centrally located village is the main tourist centre for the South Lakes area of the Lake District. It can be found on the right banks of Lake Windermere and boasts incredible views of the sloping hills and meandering valleys.
Bowness-on-Windermere is home to a vast selection of dining, shopping and entertainment options. There are also heaps of quiet getaways as well as some of the Lake District’s nicest cabins and lodges which is why it’s our choice for where to stay in the Lake District for families.
On a hot summers day, there’s nothing better than grabbing a cone of ice cream and sitting by the water. Thankfully, Bowness-on-Windermere is packed with shops and stands selling sweet and refreshing treats in a variety of fun and familiar flavours.
Things to See and Do in Bowness-on-Windermere
- Catch a show at The Old Laundry Theatre.
- Eat tasty Italian dishes at Villa Positano.
- Enjoy snacks, drinks and a beautiful view at The Fun Factory Bowness.
- Explore the world of Peter Rabbit and friends at The World of Beatrix Potter.
- Feed the ducks at Coniston Water.
- Hop on the ferry and take a tour of beautiful Lake Windermere.
- Indulge in delicious fish and chips.
- Sample contemporary British fare at The Easy Breeze.
- See breathtaking sights from Orrest Head.
- Trek Brant Fell Above the Bustle, a scenic walk good for hikers of all ages.
Family Cottage in Bowness-on-Windermere: Foxglove Cottage Family Getaway
The perfect family retreat, there’s a master bedroom with attached en suite (and whirlpool bath) for the parents, and a lovely twin room for the kids. A traditional Lakeland cottage, it’s close to the village yet still magically hidden amongst the trees and shrubbery. There’s a private back garden which is perfect for the family to retreat to should the sun present itself, and an indoor fireplace and log burning stove should it not.
Best Hostel in Bowness-on-Windermere: Lake District Backpackers
This charming hostel is located in Windermere, a short drive from Bowness-on-Windermere. It is close to restaurants and bars, as well as the areas top attractions. This hotel offers comfortable and clean facilities. You’ll enjoy free wifi, a well-equipped kitchen, hot showers and a book exchange. There’s also free breakfast and on-site bike hire.
Best Hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere: The Burnside Hotel- BW Premier Collection
The Burnside Hotel provides modern accommodations ideal for families. Its rooms are spacious, comfortable and well-equipped. Guests can enjoy a Jacuzzi, an indoor pool and a sauna at this idyllic retreat. There’s also a unique in-house restaurant. You’ll also find a great selection of dining and nightlife options nearby.
Best Hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere: Burn How Garden House Hotel Bowness-on-Windermere
This is our recommendation for where to stay in Bowness-on-Windermere thanks to its large rooms and ideal location. It boasts traditional rooms with modern amenities, a gym, a relaxing garden and free wifi on-site. You’ll find a good selection of restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs just a short walk away.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in the Lake District
The Lake District is one of the most beautiful regions in the UK. It is a popular holiday destination for travellers looking to relax, explore, and get back to nature. From towering mountains and pristine lakes to vibrant pubs and mouthwatering restaurants, there’s something for everyone in the Lake District.
Just to recap; Keswick is our pick for the best town to stay in thanks to its restaurants, bars, attractions and activities. Its also where you’ll find our pick for the best hotel in the Lake District, the Skiddaw Hotel Keswick.
Our recommendation for the best hostel is YHA Grasmere Butharlyp Howe because of its central location in Grasmere close to peaks and valleys, cafes and shops.
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below.
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