Lake District

Escape to the Lake District | boutique hotels for a picture perfect stay

The Lake District is packed with boutique hotels, ready and waiting to frame the way you interact with the spellbinding backdrop outside.

As the morning mist lifts its sleepy head, Lake Windermere comes tantalisingly into view once more. I’m curled up on a velvet window seat in my room at the Holbeck Ghyll hotel with a cup of tea, watching the day unfold. Arriving here made me feel like a child again, flinging myself on the four poster bed before running to the window and pressing my nose against it to inhale the rugged scenery.

The Lake District is my favourite place for a special escape with friends or a loved one. You can put the world to rights and gain some much needed perspective climbing a fell or watching the landscape come in and out of view across a misty lake. Take to the water, try out watersports or a boat or steamer trip. You can quickly lose the tourists once you start a hike, yet you’ll truly appreciate tourism when it comes to the choice of eateries to refuel in after a hike, and quality of places to rest your head after a full day. 

From Arts and Crafts hunting lodges, to contemporary country houses, to funky love shacks and hygge infused town centre hideaways, there is a boutique hotel experience to suit everyone in the Lakes. 

Holbeck Ghyll | boutique hunting lodge with hot tub in the Lake District

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Holbeck Ghyll is an old hunting lodge overlooking Lake Windermere. Inside is a cosy Arts and Crafts retreat with roaring fireplaces, nooks to snuggle in and fabulous Edwardian details, like hearts carved into the dining chairs. I was excited to find out that Renee Zellweger stayed here when filming Miss Potter – in the Beatrix Potter suite, of course. 

Getting to our room involved climbing up two flights of stairs, past a beautiful stained glass window seat and into the eaves, where we discovered a four poster bed, beautiful bathroom suite, breathtaking lake views and complimentary damson gin.

We took a day to walk to Ambleside and hike up to nearby Wansfell Pike, taking a packed lunch from the hotel which included the most juicy fruitcake, and on our return the hotel’s outdoor hot tub overlooking Lake Windermere was booked and waiting to soothe aching limbs and a range of excellent spa treatments awaited.

Dinner was as adventurous as our hiking, with canapés and amuse-bouche followed by a four-course set menu. I now know why the award-winning food at Holbeck Ghyll is acknowledged to be amongst the best in the North.

Holbeck Ghyll Country House

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (255 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Linthwaite House Hotel | modern Lake District country house with a boutique art collection

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Linthwaite House Hotel is a contemporary country house set majestically overlooking Windermere within 14 acres of established gardens and private woodland. The decor is contemporary, a beautiful palette of blues, yellow, teal and russet with an art collection that is sure to spark conversation. The views from the hot tub suite are deliciously unreal.

The innovative restaurant, Stella, prides itself on locally sourced and organic food, showcasing the Cumbrian region, the seasons and celebrity chef Rita Dalmia’s passion for Italian cuisine.

Linthwaite House Hotel

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (459 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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Hillwaite House Hotel | romantic Lake-side dinners and boutique spa

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Hillthwaite House Hotel is tucked away between Windermere and Bowness, within walking distance of both. You are spoilt for choice for cosy corners to take in the views, with the conservatory, dining rooms and terrace all with panoramic views over the lake to Langdale Pikes, Crinkle Crags and Coniston Old Man. Perfect for a sunset romantic dinner, the quality of food is something guests mention in reviews.

Each room is individually designed and most have lake or fell views. There is an indoor pool and sauna here, something you won’t find in many boutique hotels.

Hillthwaite House

Top rated
8.5 Excellent (531 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
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Hotel Inn on the Square | boutique Lake District hotel with a great sense of humour

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If you’re looking for some modern, fun decor appeal, look no further. The Inn on the Square, Keswick, with its Herdwick sheep and Hygge themed rooms, full of colour pops and in some cases photographic murals of sheep, definitely has great style and a good sense of humour. It also has two easy access bedrooms and a great choice of eateries.

Doggies are also super welcome here. Your dog can join you for food and drinks all day long in the chic Front Bar, comfy lounge and relaxed Back Bar. There just not allowed in the Steakhouse, and I can absolutely appreciate why as a dog owner! They even supply a dog spa (including a hose pipe and dry towels) for that all important post-walk doggy clean up.

Inn on the Square

Keswick, 3.1 km to Derwent Water
8.1 Very good (464 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Aphrodite Boutique Hotel | luxury spa in the Lake District

What stands out at the Aphrodite Lodge is how much the rooms feel like home, but without losing the feel of a luxury hotel. They have quirky and spacious layouts, a far cry from a boxy hotel room. There are rooms with hot tubs, spa bathrooms, chaise lounges, cinema rooms and mirrored ceilings. The Parisian suite looks like a set from a musical and the love shack even has a woodburner.

This is somewhere to truly relax and wind down with your loved one and it’s no surprise it is one of the region’s most luxurious spa hotels. The indoor pool, sauna, steam room and waterfall are all available to guests at no extra charge and a wide choice of beauty treatments are available to book.

Aphrodites Boutique Hotel

Top rated
Bowness-on-Windermere, 1.4 km to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
8.5 Excellent (140 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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Applegarth Villa & Restaurant | adults-only boutique escape in the Lakes

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Ultra modern and sleek, this adults only hotel makes sneaking away for a romantic weekend suprisingly easy. If you’re looking to make a big romantic gesture it’s easy to do here, book a hot tub suite and choose from the enticing menu of luxury extras, all bookable online, to treat the one you love, such as a teddy bear, a picnic for two or silk rose petals.

The Applegarth has an array of rooms for different budgets and with 15 individually designed hot tub suites, there’s a place for all tastes. All boast bold colours, professional interior design and plenty of space.  I’m particularly loving the leopard print in Devoke suite. And what’s more, well behaved dogs are allowed in some rooms by arrangement.

The restaurant offers fine dining, with hearty but beautifully presented dishes showcasing Cumbria’s freshest flavours, like Cumbrian Fellbred Fillet Steak or Wild Lakeland Venison.

And in case you are deliberating over room or suite, I should mention that drinks in suites will be served by the Applegarth’s in house butler leaving you evem more time to relax in your hot tub…

Applegarth Villa & Restaurant

8.6 Excellent (218 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.4 / 10
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My final tips for your stay in the Lake District...

I love the walk across Loughrigg Terrace in the footsteps of Wordsworth, along with a visit to Hope Cottage where he lived with his sister Dorothy, who was a diarist who kept records of their life in the Lakes. I wonder if she would have written a blog if she were alive today?

I recommend reading James Rebanks A Shepherd’s Life before you visit. It paints a very different picture of the Lake District scenery we take for granted today.

After a full day of walking, a swim, hot tub or spa treatment can really help those muscles relax – book ahead to ensure time slots that work for your plans.

Gain some extra brownie points and book some special extras to surprise the one you love. Boutique hotels are often happy to organise flowers, wine, chocolates, or even a romantic picnic. The walker’s packed lunch  from Holbeck Ghyll, with hearty fruitcake, which we devoured at the top of Wansfell, will never be forgotten.

Penny Alexander

About the author

Penny Alexander is a multi award-winning blog writer and author. Her blog parentshaped.co.uk was runner up in Family Traveller Best Travel Blog 2016. She recently relocated to the Peak District with her husband, two children and two dogs where she runs two successful holiday lets.
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