Muddy Stays: Chapel House, Penzance
A former arts club and listed Georgian building turned boutique townhouse by the sea on Penzance's Chapel Street makes a welcoming home from home.
A listed Georgian townhouse, Chapel House can be found at the seaside end of Chapel Street. Previously Penzance’s arts club and originally built in 1790, Chapel House now has the more modern addition of two apartments in the garden.
Where once artists propped up the bar, ate their fill and made do with one bathroom for all the rooms, owner Susan has lovingly restored the building to its former Georgian glory with modern touches, including whitewashed floors, local artwork on every wall, nook and cranny, huge baths and iPads in each room.
Somewhere between a boutique hotel and a B&B, Chapel House is sprawling with plenty of communal space. The (mostly huge) rooms are spread over three main floors with a large basement kitchen opening on to a walled-in garden and terrace and two family suites, creating the feeling as if you are staying in someone’s (rather large) house rather than a hotel.
Guests are invited to linger over breakfast round the kitchen and drinks are served in the upstairs drawing room at 6.30pm. On our visit in November there was no option for an evening meal but during the summer guests can pre-arrange to join Susan for weekend dinners – the feeling overall is personal but not overbearing.
Penzance is slowly establishing itself as a destination in its own right, not just a base for visiting elsewhere (although it does make a good base for exploring west Cornwall). Chapel Street, one of Penzance’s nicest streets and home to some of the oldest buildings, has plenty of treasures to while away an afternoon including a book shop, art shop and purveyor of beautiful things for your home, No 56.
Step around the corner and you’ll find the exhibitions and coffee at Newlyn Art Exchange or potter down the hill to the sea (where you can also board the Scillonian Ferry to head to the Isles of Scilly). You’ll also find the Jubilee Pool, the UK’s only saltwater lido, which from 2020 should be open all year thanks to geothermal drilling.
We stayed in one of the new suites with an upstairs sitting room with sea views and swanky log burner, and a beautifully comfortable bed in the much darker downstairs. We loved the bespoke staircase and Tom Raffield lights as well as the little kitchen area – if we were staying longer then it would have been a great option for a hybrid self-catering break.
Everyone enjoyed the walk-through concrete wet room in which the whole family was able to shower at once – this being plastic-free Penzance the Pure Nuff Stuff toiletries were in refillable containers with some individual glass pots to use and take away.
In the main house, the rooms are all spacious with sea views framed by the huge Georgian windows. Every room has its own bathroom and the biggest have baths in the room. We loved the white painted walls and floors that set off the mostly local artwork.
Chapel House isn’t marketed as kid-friendly but that doesn’t mean they’re not welcome. Ours were delighted to find that the velvet sofa was actually a sofa bed. We tucked them in downstairs and then transferred them up to the sofa bed when we went to bed. They also loved all the options at breakfast the next morning and tucked into huge bowls of granola before wolfing bacon sandwiches.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Art lovers or in fact anyone who prefers staying in a more intimate setting whilst still benefiting from the comfort of a hotel.
Not for: If you’d like to eat in your hotel but in a restaurant-style setting, this is not the one for you. Dogs and children welcome – but this is not a family hotel so there are no kids facilities or babysitting services.
The damage: From £150 per night – enquire for single night stays over the weekend and deals for stays for longer than three nights.
Chapel Street, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4AQ