Lake District

Family-friendly hotels in the Lake District your kids will love

Travel blogger Penny Alexander has spent many a happy holiday in the Lake District. Here is her guide to Lake District places to stay that offer something special to families whatever the budget.

The Lake District is a magical place for a family holiday: pretend to be in Swallows and Amazons, take a Lake Cruise across Windermere as Wray Castle appears out of the mist, hire a kayak, learn to sail, leap on giant trampolines at Brockhole, and when their legs are big enough, ‘bag’ your first fell as a family.

The towns and villages are beautifully geared to families with plenty of quirky attractions to explore if it rains and little gems like the rock shop in Ambleside to spend pocket money in.

Finding the perfect place to stay in the Lakes can be tricky, you are absolutely spoilt for choice, but here are a selection that make the grade – both scoring top marks from other trivago users and also offering something special to families.

Family friendly hotel perfectly placed to explore Windermere.

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The Waterhead, Ambleside is perfectly located overlooking Windermere, it’s modern and luxurious, but with a relaxed atmosphere and a great family friendly welcome.

My seven year old son loved his Sam’s Club pack featuring the hotel’s doggy mascot – a balloon, chocolate, orange squash sachet, colouring pencils and activity booklet; but most of all he loved the Sam sheepdog soft toy sat on his bed, which I agreed to buy him as a souvenir of our Swallows and Amazons themed adventure together. Room service delivered too, he had his own tray with special Sam’s Club yellow plates.

Walking straight across from the hotel and onto the jetty to our first glimpse of Windermere was a lovely mother-son moment I will always treasure. Windermere is a perfect family introduction to the Lakes, take a boat across the lake to Wray castle, potter in the shops and cafes in Ambleside, visit The World of Beatrix Potter and Hill Top, the Lakes Aquarium and have all kinds of amazing adventures at Brockhole the Lake District Visitor Centre.

Waterhead

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (650 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
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Spa luxury and Very Important Little People

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A luxury spa for parents and a warm welcome for kids don’t always go hand in hand, but you can tell by North Lakes’ instagram that they are truly family friendly. It’s fantastic to see lots of unposed pics of happy kids and family pets being made welcome, plus they even have a hashtag about making kids feel special: #VILittleP, aka. Very Important Little People. A special touch is the free teddy kid’s receive that they can name and take with them on their holiday adventures.

The family rooms are modern and fresh, the signature family rooms have gorgeous feature walls, gates for bedsteads and bunk beds for children up to 12. The family rooms are generous in size and you will find milk and biscuits in the room.

Just outside the Lake District park, but in a stunning setting and well placed for serious walkers taking on the challenge of Helvellyn, North Lakes is close to Penrith and Brougham Castles and Long Meg and Her Daughters, the Bronze age stone circle.

Top tip from Penny

Being allowed to climb in a giant gemstone pit with a small bag to choose around 20 gemstones was child nirvana. The Rock Shop in Ambleside is educational and creative and was also my kids’ favourite place in terms of spending their pocket money.

North Lakes Hotel & Spa

8.2 Very good (1469 reviews)
Excellent Facilities 8.8 / 10
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The best of both worlds, hotel facilities and private family lodges, right on the lake.

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If you are looking for luxury with amazing lake views, the front lawn of Storrs Hall forms the shoreline of Lake Windermere. You can stay in 4-star luxury in the hotel, or in the cosy and comfortable self catering lodges in the grounds which are perfect for family breaks, with six of the lodges having two bedrooms. The main bedroom has a double bed and the second bedrooms have either twin or bunk beds. Five of the lodges have lake views and dogs are welcome too.

There is something for every type of family here, whether your lot jump at the chance to explore the extensive gardens, or want to set off an a boat trip from their own jetty! Once the whole family has build up a hearty appetite, you can choose between relaxed dining in the bar, proper afternoon tea or a more formal restaurant.

I have my eye on the romantic boat house for our next getaway without kids too!

Top tip from Penny

We bought a Family Walkers Ticket from Windermere Lake Cruises, which for £28 allows you to combine a 4 mile walk along the flat and peaceful western shore with a cruise across Windermere. This ticket allows walkers to create a circular walking loop around the lake and can start/finish at Bowness, Brockhole or Ambleside. Little Legs might prefer the boat trip from Ambleside to Wray Castle, its exciting to see it appear from behind the trees as you sail in on a tiny little boat to the jetty.

Hotel Storrs Hall

Top rated
Bowness-on-Windermere, 3.1 km to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
8.7 Excellent (404 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.3 / 10
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Family friendly hostel with a dramatic mountain setting and stunning views.

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Coniston Water was the inspiration for Swallows and Amazons, so it’s an absolute must with kids. My son and I travelled up to Coniston listening to the audiobook, so seeing the lake and it’s islands suddenly appear was pretty special. We took a Swallows and Amazons boat trip to see Wild Cat island, and hired a kayak to explore on our own too. Then to the fictional home of the Walker children, Holly Howe, which also happens to be the delicious Swallows and Amazons Tea Room.

Once you’ve exhausted them playing Swallows and Amazons, retreat to YHA Coniston Copper Mines, a dramatic mountain hostel with private family rooms. If you’ve not stayed in a YHA as a family, take a second look: youth hostels have had a wonderful family facelift! The location also offers a 500ft head start on the ascent of the Old Man of Coniston, now that’s got to save a few grumbles!

Top tip from Penny

Fire their imaginations on the car journey by listening to Swallows and Amazons, or watch the film version before you leave. Wild Cat Island and Holly Howe are in/around Coniston Water, but as soon as they see a sailing boat or an island on any lake they’ll feel a little closer to the Walker family’s zest for adventure!

YHA Coniston Coppermines

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (165 reviews)
Excellent Location 9 / 10
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Glamp, camp or cosy in a cottage on a smallholding.

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Wallace Lane Farm is situated high in the magnificent Northern lakes, on the fringe of the Lake District National Park in one of Cumbria’s most beautiful villages, Caldbeck, which has a shop, pub and gift shops. It’s also within easy drive of key Lake District attractions including Keswick, Cockermouth, Carlisle and Hadrian’s Wall.

The setting is a beautiful 23-acre smallholding with superb views. Take your pick here from excellent service in the B&B in a family room which sleeps up to five, glamping cabins, safari tents, camping or cottages with hot tubs, there is something for everyone.

Top tip from Penny

Climb a fell. For some reason, my children would rather climb up than go on a flat circular route with no visible end target. I think they like the sense of achievement. You can’t beat eating your sarnies on the top of a fell either! There are so many to choose from, and some for all leg lengths. Always plan carefully, dress appropriately whatever the weather and carry spare food, water, clothing and a map.

Wallace Lane Farm

Top rated
9.5 Excellent (185 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.5 / 10
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Nibble boards and chunky biscuits, the way to a child’s heart.

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A scenic inn right on the small river that flows into the Ullswater at Pooley Bridge. A modern hotel with gorgeous homely characterful touches, for those who like a hotel to feel like a home from home. A flask of fresh milk for a cuppa and big and chunky shortbread biscuits. What I personally love is the family room with it’s quirky triangle window, giving incredible views along Ullswater.

Here you’ll also find relaxed dining and a good looking children’s menu including the inventive ‘Nibble Board’ of ham, chipolatas, cheese, grapes, vegetable sticks, breaks and butter for when they’re in one of those nibbly moods!

Top tip from Penny

Take them to Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre and let them bounce in the tree top nets, it’s an amazing feeling being on a giant trampoline strapped between the trees and the most fun we had had as a family in ages! Booking advisable at peak times.

The Crown Inn At Pooley Bridge

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (179 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
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Penny Alexander is a multi award-winning blog writer and co- author of Create Your Own Happy a children’s guide to happiness. 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.