It's a tough call but we've made it – 15 of our favourite Lake District hotels, B&Bs, hostels and campsites, right across the region.
The Lake District has changed quite a bit since the days of Wainwright, and nowhere more so than at the Brimstone Hotel, one of the Lakes' new breed of boutique hotels, with a dazzling location, in one of the the area's most beautiful valleys, with some of the region's best walking on its doorstep, but with a contemporary emphasis on comfort and good food.
A few minutes' drive from Ambleside and Windermere, in the heart of the southern Lakes, this beautifully restored stone cottage is one of the top 50 self-catering cottages in the UK according to the Times, and has rightly won numerous awards both for its exterior and interior charm – and the nothing-is-too-much-trouble friendliness of its owners, Jacky and Bill Morrison.
It's not fair to have to choose a room at the Plough, because they're all gorgeous, with comfy beds, large bathrooms and there's the added bonus of a fabulous bar and restaurant downstairs. It's very handy for the southern Lakes, too.
A hideaway family-friendly campsite above Ullswater that is set amid the fells on an old Cumbrian farmstead, with dramatic views to all sides. It welcomes caravan and campervans, and has separate grassy pitches for tents and also has a few timber-built pods. Their eco-hearts are in the right places, too, and they claim to have the 'best campsite bar in Britain'. We love it.
High up in the western fells – a good couple of hours' walk from anywhere, generations of walkers have made a grateful beeline for Ennerdale's majestically sited Black Sail stone "hut", a former shepherds' bothy that serves as one of the UK's most renowned youth hostels.
No less than the first hostel in England owned by the YHA, and ironically now under independent ownership, this is a great budget alternative for walkers and families and walking families alike, with a mix of 2 to 6 bunk rooms, and a great location a mile or so outside Grasmere.
In busy Windermere but away from the lake, the über-rustic Wild Boar is a traditional lakeland inn, with stone floors, oak beams, a real-ale bar and some lovely rural surroundings, but it also has a keen sense of style, plus some glammed-up rooms with IPod docks and an excellent restaurant which makes a justifiable song-and-dance about its on-site smokehouse.
Nine warm rooms featuring country cottage furniture and chic fabrics in this very model of an updated country inn. You may never want to leave your delightful room and, if you do, it will only be to toddle downstairs for scrumptious meals in the restaurant.
The ultimate Lakeland walkers' hangout, English country inns don't come much more end-of-the-road than the Wasdale Head Inn, sited under England's highest mountains just past Wast Water, the country's deepest lake. Dinner is served in the atmospheric Ritson's Bar, and they also operate a very basic hike-and-climb campsite in the field across the lane.
This old Georgian inn looks pretty traditional from the outside, but inside it’s had a zippy designer makeover, and makes a great base for touring around Penrith, Ullswater and the Eden Valley, in the northern Lakes. Lovely, compact rooms mix pretty fabrics, mod cons and paintings and antique furnishings, and the bar and restaurant is a country gourmet’s delight.
Perhaps the best-known place on this list, Cartmel's L'Enlcume is known for its Michelin-starred cuisine, but it also has a dozen beautiful rooms upstairs, all individually furnished and as lovingly detailed as the food. Not all rooms are in the main restaurant building, but the others are only a two-minute walk away.
The folks at the Woolpack Inn in Eskdale also run this eco-friendly B&B nearby, which has a kind of house party feel, with a huge open-plan kitchen-diner and a help-yourself larder of drinks and snacks. You can have wood-fired pizzas delivered from the Woolpack, or have them shuttle you to the inn and back for dinner and drinks.
A lovely wooden cabin in an attractive and secluded woodland setting that is just footsteps away from the shores of Lake Windermere, and one of your best chances to stay on the lake itself. The resort in which the lodge is situated, has lots of facilities so real lazybones need never set foot outside the park if they so wish, but this would be a pity, as you couldn't be in a better place to walk, cycle and generally enjoy the best of this magical bit of the Lake District.
Tucked away behind the heights of Skiddaw mountain the Old Rectory at Boltongate is a perfect gem, situated off the well-beaten Lake District track, ideal for couples looking to get away from it all. David and Gill Taylor are unobtrusive hosts, keeping you supplied with morning tea, afternoon cakes and a sundowner glass of wine on the lawn – plus dinner in grand surroundings in the evening if you want it.
A perfectly located boutique hotel, Moss Grove features rooms with majestic bespoke beds of reclaimed timber, local oak floors and duck-down duvets. Breakfast is a help-yourself gourmet buffet which you can take back to your room, making the whole experience an intimate home-from-home, and right outside, you're in the centre of Grasmere and just a short walk from Wordsworth's old stamping-ground.