From Michelin-starred restaurants with rooms and restored country piles to family-run boat houses and new names bringing fresh energy to the Lake District, there’s no shortage of places to rest your trail-wearied self after a day exploring the national park. If you’re among the fans of rolling hills and open skies — the destination ranks as one of Brits’ most popular UK staycation spots — we’ve rounded up the best luxury hotels in the Lake District for the smartest of stays.
The Samling, Windermere
A sanctuary from the often-intense weather in the Lakes, The Samling offers up a cosy, comforting crashpad to return to after a wet and windy walk to Windermere. Five years ago, the whitewashed Georgian house added a floor-to-ceiling glass conservatory-slash-observatory where diners can order English wines from a 600-strong list and look at the stars — and we don’t just mean the Milky Way. Clientele includes the likes of Tom Cruise, Stella McCartney, the Beckhams and Nicole Kidman.
Everything in the hotel is designed to envelop guests in warmth and softness, from the cocooning bedding and soft carpets to the rooms filled with cashmere, velvet and goose-down and a hot tub to soothe the muscles of hikers taking on the National Trust trail starting in the grounds of the hotel. The most recent addition to The Samling portfolio are the Prospector Tents — luxury glamping pods ideal for those craving escapism for a couple of nights. At the top of the hillside adjacent to the hotel, cocooned next to the woodlands, the Prospector Tents offer a chance to sleep under canvas with all the luxuries you’d expect including super king-size beds, plush bedding, fire pits and extensive views over the rolling countryside.
From £490 per night, Prospector Tents on request, visit thesamlinghotel.co.uk
Another Place, Ullswater
Most of the Lake District’s accommodation is angled towards walkers, families and foodies, but Another Place in Ullswater has happily filled the gap left for young couples and solo travellers, balancing bright, sexy interiors (think iron four-posters and sheepskin throws) with irresistible details like log fires in the library and antique mahogany furniture.
The Better rooms have dreamy views, while a collection of shepherd’s huts and a contemporary treehouse opening this summer promise to immerse guests in the wilds of the gardens. There’s a hot tub for late-night stargazing, plus plenty of fun to be had kayaking, horse riding, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing and fishing with experts and instructors organised by the hotel (which will remind regulars of sister property and surfer hotspot Watergate Bay in Cornwall). Service here is informal but informed — staff can point you in the direction of whatever you need, whenever you need it.
From £260 per night, visit another.place
Storrs Hall, Windermere
With its latticed windows, regal busts, marble mantels and gilded mirrors, Storrs Hall upholds the codes of an English country home in honour of its status as a Grade II-listed Georgian mansion, without being too heavy-handed. The property looks over England’s largest lake, Windermere, and its surroundings are some of the most serene in the area.
Afternoon tea is the main event here, served with Cornish clotted cream and chilled champagne in the games room (complete with baby grand piano) or on the croquet-perfect lawn that leads straight down to the water. Lakeside Suites come with biscuits on arrival, iPad-controlled Sonos systems and free minibars (we like the Devon-made Frobisher’s fruit juices), but do make time for a drink in the bar, which came from the Blackpool Tower Ballroom in 1943.
From £205 per night, visit storrshall.com
Brimstone Hotel, Ambleside
A chalet-style spa hotel, Brimstone is about as central as it gets in the Lakelands, and is ideally located for scaling Scafell Pike. That’s if you make it out of the hotel — and Brimstone doesn’t make it easy. The hotel excels at ‘extras’, making it one of the best-value visits, too: guests get free, exclusive access to a taxi service, boots and wet weather gear, navigation assistance.
There’s also a spa and a cosy Reading Room, where complimentary drinks are served and a rotation of snacks is available (think scones by day and cheese and biscuits by night). Staff appear to light your bedroom’s fireplace and remind you that breakfast can be brought to your room at no extra cost, and the turndown service includes a mug of hot chocolate.
From £490 per night, visit brimstonehotel.co.uk
Linthwaite House, Windermere
Part of the South African-based Leeu Collection, this whitewashed Edwardian house was renovated in 2018 with modern art, sculptures and installations dotted throughout the property and its grounds. Its smaller bedrooms are nothing to write home about, but the private cedar-clad lakeside suites a few minutes away from the main building are excellent — one has a telescope and another has a private hot tub with views of the fells — with quality linens, fresh milk in the fridge and Scandi-style interiors.
Dogs and kids are both welcome; Linthwaite operates a ‘B&B’ (bed and bowl) policy for £25 for the former and can arrange babysitters for the latter. The Henrock’s restaurant is run by Simon Rogan and ingredients sourced are from his farm (the same one that supplies L’Enclume), but dishes draw on more international influences, and the dining space is less formal. There’s an impressive wine list that features Leeu Family Wines from the hotel’s sister property in South Africa — take a bottle to the swing seat that overlooks the lakes and fells surrounded by wildflowers and woodland.
From £250 per night, visit leeucollection.com
The Swan, Windermere
Set on the shores of the River Leven, in the peaceful hamlet of Newby Bridge, The Swan reopened two years ago having taken advantage of pandemic-induced closures to undergo a £7m renovation that included 28 new bedrooms and the brand new Holte Spa. This riverside retreat – complete with picturesque arched stone bridge and paddling cygnets – boasts an impressive 54 rooms, including boutique doubles and loft suites, contemporary cottages and dedicated dog-friendly rooms and suites, plus the love nest: an intimate studio cottage for two, hidden in the grounds of the hotel, complete with private terrace and al fresco fireplace.
Sustainability is central to the Holte Spa, which pays homage to the wild beauty of its surroundings with ethical treatments that draw inspiration from the natural scenery of the Lakes. Expect holistic hydro-journeys, curated to your own relaxation requirements, natural rejuvenation rituals and a full thermal suite with naturally filtered pools and authentic saunas. Looking to make the most of the spa’s extensive treatment menu during your visit? The newly-opened Splendid rooms and suites offer complimentary two-hour spa access for each day of your stay.
From £136 per night, visit swanhotel.com
The Black Bull, Sedburgh
From the china teacups by ceramicist Rebecca Callis and the framed photography by Rob Whitrow to the Howgill Herdwick lamb and fish from the North Sea, The Black Bull’s hyper-local approach to both creative and culinary endeavours has made this pub with rooms a must-visit for foodies since its 18-month renovation was completed. The 17th Century coaching inn was converted into an 18-bedroom hotel, and owners Nina Matsunaga and James Ratfcliffe aren’t finished yet (expect a smokehouse, brewery and kitchen designed for cooking classes in the future).
Bedrooms are country but cool, with Japanese bathtubs, fresh-baked cookies on arrival, toiletries by Sedbergh Soap Company, and three dogs to welcome you in. A brilliant base for exploring the Howgill Fells, return to refuel on dishes of Howgill Hereford beef sirloin and kohlrabi, smoked hazelnut and burnt apple with ingredients foraged by James or locally sourced from the highest-quality suppliers.
From £125 per night, visit theblackbullsedbergh.co.uk
Gilpin Lake House, Windermere
Original owner and lover of the Lake District John Cunliffe passed away a couple of years ago, but his legacy lives on at this family-run hotel on the National Park’s eastern edge, within 30 minutes of landmarks like Lake Windermere and Beatrix Potter’s house. There are two parts to the property: the Edwardian hotel and the lake house, a reinvented fishing lodge. The latter ups the ante on space, privacy, design and facilities, with a handful of new even-larger lodges that launched in 2020 with access to individual cedar wood hot tubs, an indoor pool and a private garden and spa.
Rooms at the Gilpin Lake House accommodate just 12 guests (soon to be 16) in total, making it feel as if you have 100 acres of land all to yourself. Request the Maud room for its views, although every single one features a charming mix of slick design countered with quirky antiques — plus, this summer there are five new spa suites which come with a treatment tailored to your needs. The estate's fine dining restaurant, SOURCE at Gilpin Hotel, recently retained its one Michelin star and guests can expect decadent dishes such as roast Scottish langoustine, celeriac and black truffle and sushi rice pudding with miso caramel, sesame and sake ice cream.
From £375 per night, visit thegilpin.co.uk
Simon Rogan’s flagship restaurant with rooms is often booked up months in advance. With three Michelin stars and fresh ingredients sourced from its own farm down the road, it’s turned Cartmel from a medieval village famous for sticky toffee pudding into a top-tier dining destination. Can’t wait? Book one of its exclusive bedrooms, which are scattered throughout the village, and you’re guaranteed a table at L’Enclume during your stay.
The restaurant is a sensitively restored blacksmith workshop and rooms echo the stripped-back style (previously head chef at The French in Manchester and Claridge’s in Mayfair, with L’Enclume Rogan wanted to leave behind excess fuss and finery to focus on the food). Among the cottage rooms are two suites in a townhouse and two bedrooms over Cartmel Coffee Shop, all centrally located so you can roll from the tasting menu to roll-top bathtub in minutes. Ask to be booked into Aulis Cartmel, adjacent to L'Enclume, to find the development table where you can watch the team of locally-recruited chefs experiment with new farm-to-fork ideas before they hit the main menu.
From £450 per night, visit lenclume.co.uk