If I owned a hotel I would want it to look like Chapel House. This beautiful, restored townhouse is on the corner of Chapel Street, one of Penzance’s most picturesque roads. With views overlooking the sea and St Michael’s Mount it is in an enviable position, but after years of neglect the building had fallen into disrepair. Previously the home of the Penzance Arts Club, new owner Susan Stuart saw an opportunity to renovate and refresh this grand historic building.
I have been visiting Cornwall frequently since I was a child and have always felt disappointed that the accommodation options don’t match the appeal of the destination, but Chapel House has changed the hospitality offering dramatically. Susan arrived in Cornwall in 2013 hoping for a change of lifestyle and profession. Almost by accident she came across this wondrous building and with her ambitious vision, a big budget and a team of local craftsmen she transformed the place.
After a scenic five hour ride on the blissfully easy Great Western Railway train from London Paddington we arrived at the last stop, Penzance, just a short walk away from Chapel House. The boutique luxury hotel has six double bedrooms to choose from, each one is light and thoughtfully designed; a mix of modern luxuries and characterful original details. We were in room six, on the top floor, with lovely views of the town. The bespoke beds were handmade locally, a unique elevated platform made from smooth soft oak wood. Reclaimed 1930s office lamps add vintage charm to the bedsides and fresh flowers add a fresh pop of colour. For convenience, each room comes with its own mini iPad, which guests can use to FaceTime for service or to look up tips on local things to do. Of the other rooms, room two was my favourite, with an Ashton & Bentley bath tub in the main room and lovely antique furniture.
The bathrooms are state of the art; contemporary and minimalist. Wherever possible Susan has installed an indulgent bathtub, or in the smaller room a walk-in rain shower. Natural light is given priority, and in our rooftop room the entire slanting bathroom roof opened to offer the option of a semi-outdoor bath. Toiletries are provided by Penzance beauty brand, Pure Nuff Stuff.
In the communal areas Susan displays artwork from the nearby Newlyn School of Art. It is a reminder of the building’s previous use, and adds colour and style to the crisp white walls.
Susan is an illustrious, thoughtful and hard-working host and when she’s not welcoming guests or locals through the door, she is found in the kitchen whipping up a seasonal dinner. The beautiful basement kitchen and communal dining table offers a homely place to eat. Susan concentrates her culinary talents on the finest local fish and seafood, picking up produce at the market that day for the evening meal. For just £22 you can enjoy a three course meal with an aperitif – I recommend the Cornish gin with tonic.
Our lazy Sunday breakfast was glorious, sitting in the sun-drenched kitchen, sipping caffetiere coffee and quaffing butcher bacon and eggs, whilst chatting away to the other guests. I could have sat there with a newspaper for a lot longer than we did, but the whole of Penzance was waiting to be seen.
Chapel House is reason alone to visit Penzance, the perfect place to escape London for a few blissful days by the sea.
Published by: Simon in Cornwall