8 of the best hotels in the Lake District
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Editor’s note: At TPG, we paused travelling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and national governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.
It may be quite a while before going on foreign and long-haul trips is possible though, so instead, why not think about holidaying domestically? There are so many glorious spots to visit in the U.K. — from seaside resorts to mountains to charming little villages — and of course, our magnificent National Parks.
The most popular is the Lake District. Located in Cumbria, in the northwest, it covers 912 square miles and has around 50 lakes and tarns, including England’s biggest and deepest, Lake Windermere.
The national park is also known for its rugged mountain fens and historic literary associations. For example, much of 19th-century Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s verse was set there including his most famous poem, Daffodils.
There’s an abundance of places to stay in the Lake District, from imposing country manors to quaint little inns — so here’s our pick of the best.
1. Gilpin Hotel and Lake House
Want to combine the majesty of the Lake District with your own private spa? Then try Gilpin. It’s located near Lake Windermere and as well as its 25 bedrooms with lake views, five new detached spa lodges have been installed — each with their own ensuite spa. There are rainmaker showers and steam rooms inside, hydrotherapy hot tubs and saunas outside.
Gilpin has its own Michelin-starred restaurant called HRiSHi. Cumbria used to be the centre of the British spice trade, so HRiSHi, as well as the other onsite eateries, combine the exotic with local favourites like Cumbrian sausages and sticky toffee pudding.
Just a mile away from Gilpin Hotel you will find Gilpin Lake House, a sanctuary where up to 12 guests can enjoy 100 acres of private grounds with their own lake, boathouse, hot tubs, saunas, and swimming pool — and with a complimentary chauffeur. Rooms start at about £255 per night towards the end of 2020.
How to get there: The nearest airports are Manchester and Liverpool, and the nearest local train station is Windermere (you can get a direct train there from Manchester). The nearest mainline station is Oxenholme.
Located in Cartmel, three miles from Morecambe Bay, L’Enclume has 16 rooms dotted throughout the village. Most are in old cottages with exposed beams and flagged floors and all are within walking distance to the property’s two restaurants, including the signature L’Enclume. It’s also featured in series one of Steve Coogan’s eating odyssey “The Trip”.
Though the rooms are homely and somewhat quirkily shaped, classy touches like Nespresso machines and Bose speakers add a more modern feel.
L’Enclume’s chef Simon Rogan, who has been described as a “culinary heavyweight”, has two Michelin stars and prides himself on championing the farm to fork movement and only using seasonal and local ingredients.
Boat trips on Windermere are about a 15-minute drive away, as well as Cartmel racecourse. Rooms start at about £180 per night.
How to get there: The nearest airports are Manchester or Liverpool and the nearest mainline train stations are Oxenholme or Preston.
3. The Cottage in the Woods
The Cottage in the Woods is located in the heart of Whinlatter, England’s only mountain forest. It’s a 17th-century restaurant with nine quiet, tranquil rooms. The rooms range from “cosy” to a “treetop loft den”, which is not suitable for anyone with mobility issues, and all have flat-screen TVs and Sedbergh organic toiletries.
Again, the restaurant has a Michelin star and the chef’s creations are an “ode to Cumbria”. The Cottage in the Woods is also an excellent base for exploring the lakes and is a fantastic spot for stargazing.
The owners Liam and Kath are outdoor enthusiasts and offer tips on walks and wildlife watching, plus prepare packed lunches. Rooms start at £120 per night.
How to get there: The nearest airports are Manchester, Newcastle or Liverpool or the nearest mainline train station is Penrith.
4. The Yan at Broadrayne
The word “yan” comes from old Cumbrian dialect meaning “one”, used when counting sheep (still used today), and Broadrayne refers to the name of the 17th-century farm the property sits on.
Speaking of sheep, Broadrayne farm is said to breed some of the best in the Lake District — the Herdwick, which you can recognise by their cute grey faces.
It’s located near the village of Grasmere, which is perfect for the north and central lakes, and is not far from the bigger towns of Windermere and Keswick. Grasmere is renowned for its stunning views. The Yan has seven luxurious rooms, all found in the slate outbuildings, is pet friendly and the restaurant serves “nostalgic classics” like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips — as well as more modern dishes.
The rooms are all quite compact, so perhaps not for those who are after a suite but all have views of the fells — and staying there is quite affordable, too, with rooms starting at about £100 per night.
How to get there: The nearest airports are Manchester, Newcastle or Liverpool or the nearest mainline train station is Oxenholme with connecting trains to Windermere.
5. The Samling
The Samling overlooks Lake Windermere itself and is definitely one for a special occasion rather than a rambler’s crash pad. It’s seriously stylish with an outdoor hot tub overlooking the water, which you must book if you want it to yourself, and works of art from the likes of Picasso and Matisse.
The rooms are in the main house and outbuildings and the suites can be found throughout the 67 acres of gardens. There’s also a library and beautiful terrace, and deer, rabbits and birds, including kestrels, flit around the grounds.
The restaurant offers fine dining with a choice of a la carte or a few different tasting menus including a three-course Sunday roast menu for £40. The wine list is enviable at 600 strong, with 40 different types of Champagne alone. We also recommend taking afternoon tea with a glass of bubbles in the lounge. Rooms start at about £330 per night.
How to get there: The nearest airports are Liverpool and Manchester and the nearest mainline train station is Oxenholme.
6. Another Place
Ths hotel sits on the shores of Ullswater — the area’s second-biggest lake. Its motto is “have fun, eat well and let go”, and with a 20-metre lake view swimming pool, a walnut grove, plenty of nooks and crannies and a private jetty, it’s not hard!
Another Place has an “open house” policy, so guests can wander freely and are encouraged to spend a few hours in the library or take part in the various activities posted daily on the ‘Welcome Board”. This hotel is great for a solo traveller, as well as families and younger adults — it’s definitely an “activity-based hotel”.
It also offers exciting midnight swims under a full moon with light-up tow floats and glow sticks.
There are 40 rooms in total, and the vibe is relaxed and welcoming. Rooms start at about £190 per night.
How to get there: The nearest airport is Newcastle and the nearest train station is Penrith.
7. Laura Ashley The Belsfield
The Victorian country manor interiors made famous by designer Laura Ashley may not be to everyone’s taste — those who are a fan of minimalism and sleek lines may not approve — but you cannot deny her work is quintessentially English. So if you’re after a break in a genteel, lakeside setting in six acres of landscaped gardens, look no further.
Naturally, all 62 rooms are bedecked with Laura Ashley furnishings — lots of floral and swagging. To eat, there’s either the Belsfield restaurant or the Brasserie. Both use local Cumbrian produce. And as Laura Ashley once said, “We don’t want to push our ideas on to customers, we simply want to make what they want”. Rooms start at about £151 per night.
How to get there: Again, the nearest airports are Manchester or Liverpool and the nearest local station is Windermere. If travelling from London or Glasgow, change at Oxemholme, Penrith or Carlisle.
8. Armathwaite Hotel and Spa
Dating back to the 11th century, this sprawling country manor and spa is awash with Downton Abbey-style grandeur. The building has retained much of its original character including the vast main hall and sweeping staircase. But don’t expect the drafts and inadequate heating that’s associated with old grand houses — the rooms feature waterproof TVs in the bathroom and all sorts of other luxurious, modern touches. The spa is excellent with an indoor pool, hot tub and thermal suite, as well as fitness classes.
Bassenthwaite Lake is only 500 metres from the front door and activities include fell walking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and even archery. There’s also a croquet lawn, and for those extra fancy guests, a helipad. There are a variety on onsite eateries, and we recommend taking afternoon tea with all the trimmings on the lawn. Rooms start at about £200 per night.
How to get there: The nearest airports are Newcastle and Manchester and nearest train mainline train stations are Penrith or Carlisle. Or, you can arrive by private jet at Carlisle Airport.
With domestic travel seeming much more likely at the moment, it’s a great time to explore some more of what the U.K. has to offer. The Lake District is stunning and wild, and you’ll get a lovely welcome. If you are into rambling, water sports, good food and fantastic views, we’re sure you’ll have a terrific time. And once that’s done, why not explore our other National Parks or some other U.K. destinations that will make you feel like you’re abroad — leave those passports at home!
Featured photo by AndyRoland/Getty Images