Muddy Stays: The Chapel House, Penzance
So, you know the feeling: You’ve got rid of the kids for the night and don’t want to waste the time stuck in the car for 5 hours finding somewhere special to stay. No problemo. Finding ourselves temporarily childless (trying not to gloat here), Mr MC and I headed off down the A30 and within the hour we were sipping G&Ts in one of our county’s greatest towns – huzzah for Penzance!
We stayed at the Chapel House – one of Penzance’s newest and hot hot hotest B&B’s. Be prepared to get jealous because, let me tell you – you will love it. Former site of the Penzance Arts Club, the converted Georgian townhouse boasts harbour views and is right on the main thoroughfare from the quay to the town centre. Sooo much more than an upmarket B&B: think luxe without being posh or uptight.
Owner Sue is lovely – she spoilt us with tea and cake on arrival, her thoughtful approach is unobtrusive yet welcoming.
The renovations, completed last summer, are stunning. Sue has managed to balance original features with mid century and modern pieces.
There’s art everywhere – The walls and surfaces showcase Newlyn school works – it changes regularly and is well chosen and homey – it really gave the house an intimate feel.
We stayed in room 4 – a knockout galleried room with outstanding views at the very top of the house in the ‘modern bit’ with its own open plan landing with a sofa, books and games. The other rooms had a more traditional feel but just as spectacular. These were booked out (though I did take some sneaky pics before the guests arrived).
The usual room facilities were available, with well thought out extras – even a mini iPad in each room. The ipad was loaded with loads of helpful stuff and Sue’s hand-picked selection of ‘hidden gems’, a place to eat, the best place to catch the sunset, or a little known gallery. We could even Facetime for room service! The toiletries were from local gals Pure Nuff Stuff (you could throw stones at them, they’re so close – but they’re really nice so don’t!)
*Oversharing alert* cover ears now if you’re squeamish – Mr MC and I haven’t squeezed into a bath together since a few cakes back. We could have sailed away to sea in the boat sized bath in our room – spacious enough for two (or three or four!).
Taking a break in winter you need options when the weather decides to tank down. There was no pool or spa (but that would be pretty usual for a B&B right?) but there were plenty of books in all nooks and crannies and board games to borrow in the lounge.
Should you want to venture out in all weather, the boot room contained everything you could possibly need to borrow from spare jackets, gloves and woolly hats, to wellies, blankets and flippers!
After a little nose along Penzance’s prom past the Jubilee Pool, we warmed ourselves with a few beers in the 12c Turks Head pub – a former smuggling den with a MasterChef semi-finalist in the kitchen. Because Sue was cooking for us that night, we didn’t eat (if you don’t count crisps), but definitely worth a punt.
After a quick freshen up, Mr MC and I enjoyed a complimentary prosecco (ok three) pre dinner and read the papers on the sofas in the drawing room.
Sue serves dinner on Fridays and Saturdays in her quirky open-plan basement kitchen. This lovely open space allows interaction with her guests. Normally the table is arranged in supper club style – but the other eight diners were in the same party, so we had a cosy table for two by the log burner.
Sue admitted she was an all right cook. That’s a massive fib. The food was outstanding. We had crab cakes, then Brill, prawns and scallops cooked to perfection. Then more cake!
Breakfast didn’t disappoint either. Housekeeper Lucia rustled up home-cured bacon (from local butcher Ian Lentern) poached egg and avocado on Cornish sourdough for me. Mr MC had more traditional Newlyn Haddock and poached egg on rye.
In terms of days out, there’s loads to do in Penzance – gardens at nearby Tremenheere, the Penlee Theatre and Gallery on Morrab St. We took in an exhibition at the Exchange (at the top of the road opposite Egypt House). After a coffee at the Cornish Hen Deli we returned to Chapel Street to peruse the fab indy shops (check out No. 56, Pure Nuff Stuff and Fish Boy). I had to stop Mr MC from trying to buy a full size Dalek (Steckfensters), before a fantastic lunch at the recently opened The Shore.
Then it was time to leave (boo), and we’d barely scratched the surface. We kicked ourselves for not staying longer but have vowed to include it as a stop off before a trip to the Scilly’s we’ve planned for Mr MC’s birthday.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Those who fancy a getaway, exhausted parents (check) wanting some R&R without feeling horrifically guilty. Arty types, design fans. Those who like unpretentious service. Great for family gatherings (you can book out the entire house – I’m trying to come up with an excuse/ celebration to do just that), anyone wanting a great base from which to explore Penzance.
Not for: Those with younger children – there are no dedicated specific kid’s areas. Those that appreciate a more formal dinner arrangement. The supper club style dining equals forced engagement with other guests – but hey a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet right? Access is limited. Being a town house there are a lot of stairs.
£££: From £150 per night (winter) – dinner is extra. Deals for stays longer than three nights. Money well spent in my opinion.