More than 72,000 patients were polled
The NHS still has a long way to go to ensure hospital stays are as good as they should be, the regulator says.
The Care Quality Commission poll of more than 72,000 people showed that 93% of patients in England rated care as good, very good or excellent overall.
But the survey also revealed they continue to be frustrated by the so-called softer aspects of care such as food, noise and delays.
The regulator said these problems had dogged the NHS for the past few years.
Nearly one in five said they were not getting enough help eating meals - the same proportion as when the annual patient survey started in 2002.
Some 14% rated food as poor, while more than a third said they were bothered by noise at night.
On answering call buttons, 15% said they had to wait longer than five minutes and 2% said it was not answered at all.
Delays were also noted in discharge, mainly because of problems getting hold of medicines, and many said they were not being involved enough in decisions about their care.
The problems meant that nearly one in 10 people said they had wanted to complain about their care.
CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: "Patients are clearly highlighting some persistent problems.
"It is a great shame that the NHS has not managed to get a stronger grip on these issues when patients have been highlighting them for so long."
But she said staff should be praised for the progress that has been made in other areas.
As well as a slight year-on-year rise in overall care, patients also reported improvements in infection prevention.
Some 95% described their room or wards as clean and three quarters said as far as they were aware doctors and nurses always washed their hands between touching patients.
The poll also illustrated the challenge facing the health service over mixed sex accommodation.
In January, Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced a six-month intensive drive to "all but eliminate" the problem.
But one in 10 patients told the regulator that they had to share sleeping areas with someone from the opposite sex.
Health Minister Ann Keen said the high overall rating was a "testament to the hard work and dedication" of staff.
But she added: "We will be focussing on those areas where there is still more to do and ensuring that patients experience a high quality of service across all aspects of healthcare."
But Michelle Mitchell, of the newly-merged Age Concern and Help the Aged charity, said the lack of help eating was of particular concern.
"Until nutrition is given top priority in every ward and every care setting older people will continue to be needlessly malnourished, putting their health at risk."