Attracting almost 16 million visitors each year, the Lake District is England’s largest National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the ideal destination for a family holiday.


Whether you’re looking for adventure – from treetop trampolines and alpaca treks to historic railways and Roman remains – or merely want to relax, soak up the beautiful views and eat award-winning food, the Lake District has something for everyone.

And it’s not just about the great outdoors. There’s a wide variety of indoor attractions, from The World of Beatrix Potter to the Lakes Aquarium and Ambleside’s award-winning Zeffirelli’s cinema.

The area is, unsurprisingly, extremely dog-friendly, with many hotels offering a warm welcome to the four-legged members of the family.

Because it is so popular, traffic can be an issue, particularly during school holidays and bank holiday weekends. So, avoiding peak times – or using public transport – is generally a good idea.

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If you're researching family holidays around the UK, don't miss our guides to the best family-friendly accommodation in Cornwall, the best Devon family hotels with swimming pools, and the best family hotels in Wales, Edinburgh and the New Forest. Or, for something completely different, check out our roundup of the best family-family campsites in France with waterparks.

10 of the best family-friendly hotels in the Lake District at a glance

1. Another Place, Ullswater

– Best for natural beauty

1. Another Place Ullswater

Price Family rooms from £308 for 4 in a family suite or from £402 for a shepherd’s hut, including breakfast | Number of bedrooms 40 + 6 shepherd’s huts and a treehouse | Swimming pool Yes | Dogs welcome Yes | Parking Free on-site car park plus five electrical car charging points, payable by card and you’ll need to bring your own charging lead | Penrith station 15-20 mins drive away

Nearby attractions: Aira Force waterfall walk is a 10-minute drive away. The most popular way to see the waterfall is the 2.1km circular loop taking around an hour. Children will love the ‘wish tree’, a tree trunk in which coins have been embedded for good luck. The waterfall trail is suitable for all skill levels, but the steps can be a bit steep in places and tricky to navigate when wet.

Dalemain Mansion and Historic Gardens, a UNESCO heritage site and home of the Dalemain World Marmalade Awards is also nearby. Admission to the gardens is free for children under 12 (£10.50 for adults) who will enjoy the sleeping earth giantess, topiary dragon and special children’s garden. Entry to the mansion is by guided tour only (book in advance on the website).

As if the stunning Ullswater location and beautiful design weren’t enough, Another Place seems to have really thought about what families need from a hotel.

A dedicated and professionally-staffed Kids Zone hosts activities including bushcraft and orienteering skills, and the hotel has a large pool offering family sessions. But the star of the show has to be the lake. Open-water swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and archery are on offer, with tuition available if needed. And if all that sounds much too active, there are board games in the library and cosy areas to read or play with the toys provided.

The Living Space restaurant offers family favourites burgers, fish and chips and pasta along with cakes and sandwiches, plus there are pantries available with microwaves, washing up facilities and fridges, removing the need to speak to staff if you want to prepare food for babies. There’s even baby-monitoring and a babysitting service so adults can take some guilt-free alone time.

Another Place has an average TripAdvisor rating of 4.5/5, with guests praising pretty much everything from the views to the rooms to the food.

Pros: Glorious setting, comfortable rooms, truly family-friendly

Cons: Fairly remote so you’ll need a car. Some guests complained on TripAdvisor about slow service in the restaurant

Book: Another Place

2. The Swan Hotel, Newby Bridge

– Best for bigger kids

2. The Swan Hotel, Newby Bridge

Price Family rooms from £190 midweek and from £370 weekends for 4, including breakfast | Number of bedrooms 84 rooms and suites | Swimming pool Yes | Dogs welcome Yes, up to two, in certain rooms and cottages | Parking Free on-site carpark, you have to register your number plate at reception | Ulverston station less than a mile

Nearby attractions: The Lakes Aquarium is less than a mile away and is home to hundreds of creatures from around the Lake District and further afield, including rays, piranhas, otters, and axolotls. The Aquarium is fully accessible to wheelchair users with lift access between the two floors. It’s open every day from 10am.

Save money by buying a combined ticket to include Aquarium entry and return scenic journey on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, starting your journey at either Lakeside or Haverthwaite. Trains run daily and tickets cost £16.00 for adults, £10.40 for children 3-15yrs, with children under 3 riding for free.

With a picture perfect riverside setting, The Swan Hotel is a 17th Century coaching inn that’s been extended into a stylish and modern family hotel without losing its charm.

So often in hotels, parents have to go to bed at the same time as the kids (or take a long, long bath) because you’re all sharing a room. The Swan’s stylish family suites have a separate bedroom for children, enabling parents to stay up past 7pm, and the hotel’s children’s welcome packs include night-time milk and cookies.

One of the suites even includes a Playstation, but with an indoor playroom and outdoor adventure playground, along with a nature trail (accessed through a secret gate) in the hotel’s 14 acres of grounds, it should be easy to tear the kids away from their screens.

Children can use the hotel’s main swimming pool up until 7pm (6pm on weekends); the last two hours are adults only. The spa pool is just for adults. The three restaurants offer afternoon tea and a popular Sunday roast, along with a selection of kid-friendly fare.

The hotel has over 1000 excellent ratings on Tripadvisor, with reviewers praising the hotel's relaxed atmosphere, welcoming staff and the appeal for children.

The family rooms apparently sell out fast, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance. Sign up to the hotel’s mailing list for regular discounts and offers.

Pros: Idyllic location, plenty to keep kids occupied and entertained

Cons: Some reviewers have complained that restaurant service is slow. While the newer rooms are smart and stylish, the older rooms could do with some TLC

Book: The Swan Hotel or

3. Windermere Manor Hotel, Windermere

– Best for swimmers

3. Windemere Manor Hotel, Windemere

Price Family rooms from £129 for 4, including breakfast | Number of bedrooms 35 | Swimming pool Yes | Dogs welcome Yes, up to 2 per room | Parking Free on-site car park, but spaces not guaranteed; EV charging station | Windermere station 1 mile away

Nearby attractions: Lake Windermere is a few minutes’ walk away, as is Brockhole on Windermere with its fantastic variety of outdoor (covered) activities, adventure playground, water sports and boat hire, set in beautiful gardens with views over the lake along with an excellent café.

Along with a perfect setting, nestled in landscaped gardens and offering panoramic views, Windermere Manor Hotel is described by Tripadvisor reviewers as genuinely dog-friendly, offering a free run area that allows four-legged guests to exercise off-lead.

Children will love the heated indoor swimming pool that one Tripadvisor reviewer claims is as warm as a bath. Or, if you’re brave enough, you can swim in Lake Windermere, just a ten-minute walk away and definitely not as warm as a bath but a really fun – if freezing – experience.

Family rooms are spacious and furnished with a large double bed plus bunk beds, but cots aren’t available. The restaurant serves the usual favourites like sausage and mash and burgers (including a meat-free burger), along with more unusual dishes like balti pie and warm Indian salad, with mains priced at around £12 each. Previous guests have praised the great selection at breakfast, including full English, cereal and pastries.

Tripadvisor reviewers enjoyed the giant chess set in the gardens and one parent praised restaurant staff for making pasta that wasn’t on the menu for their fussy eater.

Having formerly been owned by Guide Dogs for the Blind, the hotel is particularly accessible to visually impaired guests, with braille room numbers, hotel information and restaurant menu.

Pros: Beautiful location, good value for the proximity to Lake Windermere, thoughtful accessible features, dog-friendly

Cons: Some reviewers have said the hotel could do with a bit of TLC

Book: Windermere Manor Hotel or

4. The Wild Boar, Windermere

– Best for nature lovers

4. The Wild Boar, Windermere

Price Family rooms from £188 for 4, including breakfast | Number of bedrooms 34 | Swimming pool No | Dogs welcome Yes for a £30 surcharge | Parking Free on-site car if you book direct with the hotel | Windermere station 3 miles

Nearby attractions: If you can tear yourself away from the hotel’s private woodland and activities, both Lake Windermere and Bowness Bay are a short drive away.

From its secluded location near Bowness Bay, The Wild Boar in Windermere offers family rooms, a children’s menu in the restaurant and a Sam’s Club kids’ goody bag on arrival. But the real selling point of this place is the hotel’s 72-acre private woodland.

Children will love the A to Z trail, following clues to find items hidden in the trees and complete the alphabet. Also dotted around the woods are art installations, sculptural seating, and activity stations for all the family to enjoy. Children can balance, dangle and sail through the air on the tree swing, while parents can sneak in an outdoor workout.

The woods are home to over forty different species of birds, plus foxes, badgers, squirrels, otters, lizards, adders and slow worms. If you’re lucky – and quiet – you may even spot a deer.

The on-site restaurant features an open kitchen and a varied seasonal menu, with mains averaging around £25 each. An alternative afternoon tea includes mini fish and chips and pigs in blankets, along with the more traditional scones. There’s an option to take this as a picnic - packed into a wicker basket with an outdoor blanket - which you can then eat in the woods.

With a near-perfect 4.5/5 rating on Tripadvisor, reviewers say they love the woodland setting and the alternative afternoon tea (although it may be a bit fancy for smaller diners).

Pros: You can’t beat the private woodland and children will love the arrival goody bag

Cons: No pool, surcharge for dogs, parking costs £12 unless you book direct with the hotel

Book: English Lakes or

5. The Church House Inn, Torver

– Best for glamping

5. The Church House Inn, Torver

Price Family rooms from £120 per night for up to 6 (2 night minimum), room only | Number of bedrooms 6 plus glamping pod | Swimming pool No | Dogs welcome No | Parking Free on-site carpark | Windermere station 15 miles

Nearby attractions: Less than 10 minutes drive will take you to the Steam Yacht Gondola. This rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht, run by the National Trust, sails from Coniston Pier 4 times a day (except Friday) from 1st April to 31st October. Budding engineers can watch the steam engine in operation from the open viewing windows.

Bookworms will enjoy the nearby Ruskin Museum, open daily from 10am-4pm, which brings the area to life through tales ranging from early settlers and copper mines to the real-life locations in the classic children’s novel, Swallows & Amazons.

The Church House Inn has been serving locals and travellers since the 14th Century and is ideally situated if you fancy tackling the Old Man of Coniston, one of the most iconic, and more manageable (although it’s still a walk of around seven miles), mountains in the Lake District. For travellers with little (or more reluctant) legs, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the great outdoors in the area.

The Inn’s family room is great for larger families, sleeping up to 6 people with a cosy double and two bunkbeds, but it’s the glamping pod that’s the star of the show. Fenced off from the rest of the site and suitable for up to 4 guests (2 adults and 2 children in a double bed and fold-out sofa bed) the pod features a fully-equipped kitchenette with fridge and microwave, private ensuite with shower, and a 4-person hot tub that children will love. Rated “excellent” on TripAdvisor, guests praised the views, welcoming staff, cosy rooms and hearty breakfast, priced £12.50 for a full English or £8 for continental.

Pros: Good value, wonderful location, private hot tub, larger family room

Cons: Limited food options locally

Book: The Church House Inn

6. Victorian House, Grasmere

– Best for eco-friendly credentials

6. Victorian House, Grasmere

Price Family rooms from £199 for 4, including breakfast | Number of bedrooms 20 | Swimming pool No | Dogs welcome Dog-friendly rooms available for an additional £25 | Parking Free, but limited, on-site carpark | Oxenholme station 2 miles

Nearby attractions: Allan Bank National Trust historic villa is a short walk away (2 minutes in a car). Children can pick up a spotter guide and bug explorer bag from the welcome hut and search for minibeasts in the woods, but don’t forget to look up, too – you may see an elusive red squirrel. If the weather’s too wet for the woods, there’s an indoor picnic area with complimentary tea and coffee, and children can collect a craft bag and create their own artwork in the art room. Entrance costs £7 for adults, £3.50 for children (under 5s are free); dogs are welcome.

Situated in the heart of Grasmere, which was described by poet William Wordsworth as “the loveliest spot man hath found”, Victorian House is a small independent hotel with 2 family rooms: the dog-friendly garden view room, and, for bigger families, a 2-room suite that can sleep up to 6.

Steps from the hotel, you’ll find Broadgate Meadows, a beautiful park with a recently renovated and accessible children’s play area. In the other direction, but just as close, are the shops and cafes of Grasmere village, including a Co-op for any essentials you may have forgotten to bring.

But what makes this hotel stand out is its dedicated sustainability and energy reduction policy. The business is paperless and the owners have installed solar panels, LED lights with motion sensors, and a fast EV charging station. They will also plant a tree in the UK region of your choice if you travel to the hotel by public transport.

If you do leave the car behind, the 555 bus stops almost outside the hotel and travels through the heart of the Lake District between Lancaster and Keswick. Services run every 10 minutes throughout the summer.

The hotel is rated 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor, with guests praising the warm welcome, comfortable room and friendly staff.

Pros: Welcoming, dedicated to sustainability, great location

Cons: Not accessible due to the age of the building, some guests complained about limited parking, no restaurant on site (but breakfast is included), no pool

Book: Victorian House Hotel or

7. YHA, Hawkshead

– Best for the great outdoors

7. YHA, Hawkshead

Price Cabins, camping pods, bell tents and tipis from £57 for 4, private rooms from £99.75 for 4 | Number of bedrooms 20 plus 22 cabins, camping pods, bell tents and tipis | Swimming pool No | Dogs welcome Yes, in camping and cabins | Parking Free on-site carpark | Windermere station 12 miles

Nearby attractions: Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s house and the place that inspired her stories and her love for the Lake District, is a 6-minute drive away. Entrance is £15 for adults, £7.50 for children.

Located one mile south of Hawkshead village, known as the prettiest village in Lakeland, YHA Hawkshead is a regency mansion set in stunning grounds overlooking Esthwaite water, an ideal base for a bargain family break with cabins, camping pods, bell tents and teepees all available for an unbeatable price.

The main building includes a lounge, games room and drying room, and guests have access to a self-catering kitchen to help really keep costs down. Cooked meals, including breakfast, are also available, along with picnic lunches, and under-10s eat free with an adult meal.

With a TripAdvisor rating of 4/5, guests love the idyllic location and excellent kitchen and dining facilities.

Pros: Excellent value, fantastic setting, good variety of accommodation

Cons: Some guests have complained about the cleanliness of the showers

Book: YHA

8. Watermill Cottage, Windermere

– Best for wildlife

8. Watermill Cottage, Windemere

Price From £150 per night; £600 for 7 nights, self-catering | Number of bedrooms 2 | Swimming pool No | Dogs welcome Yes, up to 2 | Parking Free on-site parking | Windermere station 2 miles

Nearby attractions: Lakeland Farm Visitor Centre is less than 10 minutes’ walk away. Learn about the animals on a working farm, watch a sheepdog demonstration and maybe even feed the lambs. There’s also a farm shop where you can buy a hamper to take back to the cottage, or home as a souvenir, or you can treat yourself to a meal out in the Farm Kitchen.

If you’re looking for a home away from home, the recently renovated Watermill Cottage is a period property with up-to-date facilities, including coffee machine, wifi, dishwasher, smart TVs and an induction hob. Both child- and pet-friendly, the cottage has two bedrooms and an enclosed private garden. There’s also a full-length balcony so you can really take in the beautiful views, although parents of small children might prefer to keep this off limits.

As well as being just a 5-minute drive from Windermere, the cottage is surrounded by nature, with paths around Ings running alongside the River Gowan and up to School Knott, Reston Scar, Troutbeck and Kentmere.

Depending on the time of year, you can expect to see red squirrels, buzzards, kestrels, herons and dippers. Swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating and seasonal fishing are popular with locals and visitors.

The cottage is a stone’s throw from The Water Inn, a popular and dog-friendly real-ale pub with a good selection of food. Previous guests have said that, in spite of this, there’s no sound disruption and described the cottage as luxurious.

Pros: Fantastic location for walks and wildlife, private accommodation, the security of an enclosed garden for children and pets to play safely

Cons: Unsuitable for wheelchair users due to stairs, parents of smaller children might not be keen on the upstairs balcony

Book: Watermill Cottage

9. Romney's, Kendal

– Best play area

9. Romney's, Kendal

Price Family rooms from £85 for 4, room only | Number of bedrooms 11 apartments | Swimming pool No | Dogs welcome No | Parking Free on-site parking | Kendal station 1.2 miles

Nearby attractions: Built in the early 1200s, Kendal Castle is a ruin that's well worth exploring. On a sunny day, it’s a great place for a picnic, with views in all directions. If the weather’s not so great, nearby Kendal Museum has a dedicated children’s area with dressing up clothes, toys, games, and books. Older children will enjoy the seasonal themed trails: questions and activities that lead the children on a hunt around the galleries. Adult entry is £5, £2 for 5-18yos and under-5s are free. Bear in mind it’s only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9:30 to 4:30pm.

A popular traditional Cumbrian pub and restaurant in Kendal, Romney’s also has a great selection of well-designed self-catering lodges and smaller (but still spacious) accommodation they call snugs. The lodges come with kitchens, while the snugs only have kettles and fridges, but all are stylish and cosy. The snugs in particular feature oak-carved bunk beds, quirky loft bedrooms and freestanding baths, although they also have spiral staircases which, while they look great, may not be usable or safe for all visitors.

The pub menu is wide and varied with a great selection of sides, and the children’s menu includes the usual favourites – fish and chips, sausage and mash – for £5.95. For £7.25, there’s also a kids’ carvery, when available.

Of course, Kendal is the birthplace of the Kendal Mint Cake, popular among walkers and climbers, and which children will probably want to try. It’s basically pure sugar so a nibble should be sufficient, but if they do need to burn off some energy, mint-induced or otherwise, the pub has a fantastic enclosed and undercover play area where the kids can swing, slide and climb while parents relax at the bar or in the restaurant. There are even separate external doors for “Little’uns” and “Big’uns” which is a cute humorous touch.

Pros: The self-contained accommodation is cosy and comfortable, children can enjoy the play area while parents eat and relax, free parking

Cons: The spiral staircases may not be suitable for some visitors, no pool

Book: Romney's

10. Low Wood Bay, Ambleside

– Best for watersports

10. Low Wood Bay, Ambleside

Price Family rooms from £228 for 4, including breakfast | Number of bedrooms 131 | Swimming pool 2, one is adults only | Dogs welcome Yes, for £30 per night for up to 2 | Parking Free on-site parking, but book direct with the hotel since third party sites charge £12 | Windermere station 3 miles

Nearby attractions: Less than 10 minutes’ drive will find you at the Windermere Jetty Museum, which TripAdvisor reviewers hail as a hidden gem. The museum runs creative workshops for families (check the website for upcoming events) and there’s also dressing up, clue hunting, model boat sailing and pirate ships. The museum is open daily from 10am-5pm (4pm in winter), entrance is £9 for adults, £4.50 under 15s and under 4s are free.

You can’t have a holiday in the Lake District without messing about on the water, and Low Wood Bay hotel has the location and facilities to ensure you have a whale of a time.

The Watersports Centre offers a range of boat hire and instruction with all equipment, including buoyancy aids and wetsuits, included in the price. Take out a self-drive motorboat, paddle around on a pedalo, or explore the lake by canoe or sit-on-top kayak. (There is no minimum age for the kayaks, but the centre recommends children be able to support themselves in the kayak unaided in changeable weather conditions.) If you’re feeling very brave, you could even try knee-boarding - being towed behind the boat, kneeling down on a board - which costs £125 for 1 hour’s instruction for 4 people.

Hotel guests are eligible for a discount of 10% off watersports activities and courses at The Watersports Centre. Pre-booking is essential and can be done online.

If you can’t get enough of the wet stuff, the hotel’s indoor swimming pool is open from 7.30am - 10am for children (evening swimming is adults only). Unfortunately, the outdoor infinity pool overlooking the lake is reserved for spa guests. Hotel guests can pay separately for access to the spa’s indoor thermal pool and outdoor hot tubs and adults get complimentary access to the fitness room from 7:30am - 8pm if you want to sneak in a workout.

Back on dry land, lawn games including croquet and soft ball are available for water-shy children and children’s menus are available at both of the hotel’s restaurants. Choose from smaller plates (including a jam sandwich!) for £5 and larger (pizza, pasta) for £9 in The W, with slightly fancier fare (starters such as tomato soup for £5; mains like fillet of salmon or a halloumi burger for £9) at Blue Smoke. All main courses come with a soft drink, but children may well be keen for parents to buy them a Sam’s Club branded water bottle (£2) to be filled with free cordial throughout your stay. For lunch or in between meals, coffees, snacks, smoothies and cocktails are available in Norman’s, the snack bar in the main entrance with a glorious view over the lake.

Before booking or travelling, you can check out a virtual tour featuring 360° views and floorplans on the hotel’s website. Useful for familiarising yourself (or inquisitive children) in advance, it can also be viewed in VR with a headset.

Cots are free, as are extra beds for under-fours, but there is a charge of £25 (including breakfast) for older children. Laundry and dry-cleaning services are available Monday to Friday, which can be handy in the event of spillages or, since this is the Lakes, getting caught in the rain.

Pros: The location and availability of watersports, the online virtual tour and laundry facilities are useful, Sam’s Club welcome pack and kids’ menu

Cons: Use of the indoor pool is limited and spa facilities cost extra, additional charge for extra beds for older children


Book: English Lakes

How we tested

When selecting these hotels and holiday properties, we looked at location, price and facilities on offer to families travelling with young children. Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. We know what facilities and services are important to families and have highlighted them – particularly whether an establishment has a swimming pool and welcomes dogs.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of recommendations, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family. 

About the author

Keris Stainton has been a professional writer and a home educating parent for over ten years and has written about parenting for a host of magazines and websites. She has swum (briefly; it was freezing) in Lake Windermere and was once bitten by a duck in Ambleside.