Why do people from ‘up-country’ save Penzance for summer? It’s great at all times of year – amazing light and skies; the ocean; dazzling Art Deco lido (heated by natural geothermal energy); subtropical gardens; the elegant Penlee House museum and vibrant galleries; unusual shops and cafes.
Yes, the town has a slug of roué about it, but also pockets of urbanity. Chapel Street combines both, with quirky inns and intriguing boutiques.
At the lower end is an impressive Georgian building with red-brick facade. This is Chapel House, run by Susan Stuart, for whom it was love at first sight.
The exterior of the stylish Georgian hotel, Chapel House, with its red-brick facade
Passionate about ‘under-rated’ Penzance, in 2012 she sold her London home, bought this neglected pile and began renovating it. Since she opened Chapel House as a hotel in 2015, she hasn’t looked back.
The hotel is a triumph of style and substance. Guests in the main house’s six generous bedrooms revel in the space and light, augmented by oceanic hues and lofty ceilings.
Sinking into sofas in the airy drawing room – piano, books and newspapers to hand – they admire the art (much of it by local Newlyn School of Art students). And in the flagstoned kitchen-diner, they gather for gluttonous breakfasts and also to help themselves to cake at teatime.
Susan has recently converted a building across the courtyard into two ‘super suites’. Here, a Scandi feel pervades, with pale wood walls and floors.
On the ground floor, behind a hand-made oak bed, the state- of-the-art polished-concrete wetroom is fabulous.
Floating open-tread stairs in English walnut rise to a bright living area with a kitchenette. There’s a gorgeous leather sofa, a long counter with bar stools before a vast window, and two balconies. It’s all trumped by the views – over the harbour to Mousehole, St Michael’s Mount and the Lizard. What could be nicer than holing up by the woodburner, watching a storm roll in?
The USP: The epitome of taste, style and elegance, Chapel House maintains the informality of a fine home. Its location, on one of the smartest streets in Penzance, is within walking distance of the station.
The rooms: Six sumptuous sea-view rooms in the main house, plus two aptly named ‘super suites’.
The food: Breakfast choices include west Cornish sizzled cod roe, bacon, samphire and poached egg. Weekend kitchen suppers are scrumptious: crabcakes; organic steak; and plum crumble with clotted cream (£27.50 – book 24 hours before).
Chapel House, Chapel Street, Penzance, Cornwall, B&B from £150 a room for two sharing. For more information visit chapelhousepz.co.uk