Dreaming of a far-flung destination this autumn/winter? It might be time to look closer to home. Whether travelling abroad is off the menu for you or not, a trip to the Lake District should be on your bucket list, come rain or shine.
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Why? Stunning mountain backdrops, wildlife on tap and mirror-like waters make the Lake District not only one of the most beautiful spots in the UK, but we'd argue the world - and it's all only a car ride away.
The Lake District is a beautiful spot for a UK staycation
A stay in the Lakes offers plenty of options when it comes to accommodation, too, from cosy historical homes through to boutique hotels and luxury spa resorts.
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We were lucky enough to experience some wonderful options during an October trip - and we can confirm that worries about wintry weather shouldn't hold you back from experiencing everything this stunning part of the world has to offer.
Victorian House Hotel, Grasmere
If low-key luxury sounds like a bit of you, the boutique Victorian House Hotel in Grasmere is the perfect spot to rest your feet after a day's walking at nearby Hellvellyn or the Great Langdale valley.
Recently renovated, it has a clean, cosy feel with carefully-chosen antiques making the decor eclectic but elegant. Rooms range from snuggly singles to dog-friendly, family and even stargazer rooms - offering open views out across the fells, and binoculars to enjoy the night's sky - though this HELLO! writer stayed in the equally lovely Shepherd's Hut, found at the end of the hotel's picturesque garden.
The cosy Shepherd's Hut at Victorian House Hotel
Overlooking the River Rothay with an outdoor seating spot (complete with fire pit), the hut is warm and private - underfloor heating is a welcome feature on return from a long day's hiking. An original Victorian roll-top bath makes the ensuite bathroom feel extra special, too.
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Imagine falling asleep to the hum of the Lake District's natural soundscape - think babbling water, rustling leaves and the occasional bird call - it's the perfect spot for those that want to get away from it all. Don't miss the hotel's brilliant A La Carte breakfast, too - and though Victorian House doesn't serve dinner, they'll be happy to recommend the best spots nearby.
Rooms cost from £88 per night including breakfast when booked directly via the website.
The Yan, Grasmere
Speaking of, just down the road you'll find The Yan, another boutique hotel offering more modern-rustic style accommodation - but you won't be disappointed if you simply stop for dinner.
Found on a centuries-old farm, The Yan overlooks the beautiful Central Fells and is - if it's possible - even more inviting during the colder months, thanks to its crackling fires and cosy wooden beams.
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We couldn't fault the delicious food at The Yan
From the seasonal and locally-sourced menu, we sampled the delicious Autumn Tacos with roasted butternut squash and goat's cheese mousse, followed by a Cumbrian steak sharing platter - slow-cooked brisket topped with chimichurri butter, if you're wondering. The well-curated offering features vegan and fish dishes, too. A must-visit for foodies.
Rooms cost from £130 per night on a room-only basis. In the bistro, main dishes start at £15.95.
Storrs Hall, Windermere
History buffs will love walking the corridors of 18th century mansion Storrs Hall, which once welcomed guests such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter in its heyday. These days, it's a beautiful hotel with a variety of rooms including chic lakeside suites - refurbished only in 2020, where every luxurious detail is taken care of.
Its location is what makes Storrs Hall truly spectacular, however. With its own mooring on Lake Windermere, it's a rare treat to be able to literally walk to the shores of England's largest natural lake from your hotel suite. A short and picturesque walk around the grounds will take you to the National Trust site Temple of the Heroes, a tribute to four British naval Admirals - which offers spectacular panoramic views of the water, too.
The stunning Lakeside suites overlook Windermere
Back at the suite, a dip in the Japanese hot tub with leafy views of the lake is the ideal way to relax, or cosy up with a book in front of the modern fireplace. And when it comes to dinnertime, it's over to the main house for a lavish fine dining meal, once again overlooking Windermere, of course.
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Fast-forward to breakfast, and those in the Lakeside Suites will be delivered a perfectly-packed foodie hamper to tuck into come morning. There's nothing better to wake up to.
Rooms cost from £165 per night on a bed and breakfast basis, Lakeside Suites cost from £405 per night including breakfast.
Brimstone Hotel & Spa, Ambleside
If you're looking for a spa hotel in the Lake District with cosy, friendly vibe, Brimstone has officially nailed it. The sprawling woodland estate almost feels like a resort - once home to a mill, with some original features still intact - but with the heart of a smaller establishment.
One of Brimstone's 'hosts' will look after you with exceptional service from the moment you arrive. Only a phonecall away, they're available to help with anything from room queries to walking route recommendations - they'll even loan you wet-weather clobber for the day.
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Brimstone's cosy rooms feature slate details and warming log burners
It's not only the welcome that's warm, either - since every room features a log-burning fire complete with all the kit you need to keep it crackling. We loved it so much we stayed a second night, trying out both a Spa Suite and a Mezzanine Suite. Both were beautiful.
Other great touches were the light fixtures inside the room, allowing you to dim your lights depending on your needs (options include 'perky', 'lazy', 'sexy', 'tinkle', and of course 'lights out'), and the magazine-laden Reading Room - where guests can also raid everything from alcoholic beverages to sandwiches, snacks and scones free of charge. There's a low-key restaurant on site, too, where the staff are just as lovely.
The spa is a total treat, complete with an outdoor jacuzzi overlooking the estate. And if you opt for a treatment, you'll be encouraged to take some personalised bath salts back to your room so you can enjoy a post-massage soak. The definition of an idyllic retreat.
Rooms from £331.50 per night including breakfast, spa access and Reading Room treats.