Chapel House, Penzance
It is a rare occurrence to find a place that offers both the luxury perks of hotel and the warm, comforts of a home. But Chapel House does just that and it does it perfectly.
A Georgian townhouse with sea views of Penzance, it was originally home to the Penzance Arts club. Now renovated with plush Georgian furniture and six elegant bedrooms (each en-suite), there is a definite nod to its past life with impressive works (many by local artists) decking the eggshell white walls. If you can peel your eyes away from the eclectic paintings, take a moment to look down where you’ll find artwork at your feet in Chapel House’s exceptional collection of afghan rugs. I learn later that most of them come from a fantastic shop, East of Here, further along Chapel street.
After tea in the drawing room which came with slices of fruit cake and wickedly good brownies, we make our way to our room. First floor just to the left of the Grandfather clock. It is the kind of room one could quite happily never leave, with light pouring in from large shuttered windows, a dove grey linen sofa at the foot of a king sized bed, two arm chairs, a ready laid wood burner, tea, coffee and fresh milk (replenished daily) and a large, pearly white egg shaped bath. There is also a grand mahogany wardrobe containing dressing gowns, slippers, a hairdryer and ample storage. The bathroom, hidden neatly behind a sliding door has underfloor heating and a rainfall shower (this can also be changed to a waterfall setting should you wish). The bath products are from Pure Nuff stuff – a natural, paraben free, as well as local brand.
Cornwall is home to some of England’s most beautiful walks and should you wish to wander them (which you definitely should) there is a cupboard of waxy Barbour coats and various sized wellies - yours to borrow during your stay. You’ll find a neat pile of books on local walks and ‘things to do’ in your room and a large selection of Cornwall inspired books on the library bookshelf in the hallway.
Breakfast is taken in the cottage style kitchen downstairs. Come down whenever you wish and enjoy fresh smoothies, local yogurt, pastries and preserves before taking your pick of something warm from the menu. Choose between bacon or sausage sandwiches (both from the local butcher and Cornish bred), traditional cooked breakfast or a smoked Newlyn Sardine – Cornwall’s version of a kipper. The menu boasts deliciously healthful options too such as a green omelette (made with spinach, tarragon and parsley), scrambled eggs and smoked salmon or classic avocado on sourdough toast.
During peak season, Susan, the charming owner of Chapel House cooks her guests supper. Menus are sent before your arrival for you to choose a starter main and pudding or cheese. Browsing though past menus is a mouthwatering exercise with dishes such as pan fried Falmouth scallops, fillet steak with roast root vegetables and wild mushrooms, plum crumble with clotted cream and saffron bread and butter pudding. Dining out, there is no shortage of choices either. One favourite is The Gurnards Head - where we enjoyed a very good dish of pan fried hake with deep fried broccoli and smoked cods roe washed down with red wine. Others are The Tolcarne Inn - excellent seafood and The Shore – offering a daily changing, very affordable tasting menu.
St Ives is but a twenty-five minute drive away and worth the trip should you have come by car. Stop off at the St Ives Bakery for sticky flapjacks and a fantastic sourdough then pick up excellent coffee from Yallah or Mount Zion – both along the harbour. You’ll find at least a dozen fish and chip shops and ice cream parlours but by far the best is Moomaid of Zennor where each flavour is made on their family run dairy on the cliffs of Zennor. Bitter chocolate sorbet is a favourite.
The shopping on Chapel street is noteworthy too. As well as the beautiful rugs at East of Here, you will find some fantastic antique, vintage and homeware stores. A must visit is No. 56 – a beautiful homeware shop stocking local made ceramics, bathroom products, clothing and stationery. After all that Cornish fresh air, allow yourself to sink into a deep warm bath whilst the fire crackles away in your in-room wood burner (miraculously re-laid whilst you were out).
Book your stay at Chapel House.