What a find is the brand new Chapel House
in Penzance. Perfectly described as a small townhouse hotel, it avoids the ‘boutique’ word which has become so vastly overused and would completely sideline the originality of this pace.
We’ll start with the building, a Georgian red bricked beauty which dates back to 1790, has views of St Michael’s Mount and is saturated in history.
Originally the home of Admiral Samuel Hood Linzee (what a name) of HMS Temeraire, the ship made famous by Turner’s iconic painting The Fighting Temeraire, it has also served as a WW2 shelter for evacuees and most recently home to the notorious Arts Club (AKA a serious drinking den in its last days).
Its fortunes changed when Susan Stuart fell in love with it and moved her life lock, stock and some pretty fabulous antiques from South London.
Susan says: “I thought, bloody hell, I can’t live in this seven bedroomed house on my own. I need to turn it into something that will bring in an income.’
A painstaking two year renovation has turned Chapel House into a white, light filled place that feels more home than hotel, if your home was one of impeccable taste.
Susan has decorated it with the blues, greens and grey of the sea, with her own antique furniture, handmade beds built in Penzance, mid century finds from local shops and wonderful contemporary art on the walls.
She wanted to fill it with beautiful linen, comfortable beds and with peaceful spaces where you can sit and contemplate the sea (the drawing room looks out over Penzance harbour) or hunker down by a roaring fire.
In short she has created something completely unique that segues neatly between a hotel , a great B&B, a supper club and a favourite friend’s house.
There’s an air of informality here. Dinner which is open to non residents on Friday and Saturday nights, is described as Kitchen Supper, simply, Susan says, to capture the laidbackness of the event.
She is a serious cook and buys fish from the boats at Newlyn before posting the day’s menu up on the website. Everything is sourced from the best local producers, so you’ll find delicious sourdough from Vicky’s Bread, wine from Polgoon Vineyard, meat from Ian Lentern butchers.
Breakfasts are epic and again, original. You might find sizzled cod’s roe, smoked bacon, samphire and poached egg, devilled kidneys, kedgeree, eggs Florentine or bubble and squeak. There are Chapel House smoothies, fresh baked bread and home-made jam. Or you can opt for a hot breakfast sandwich brought to your room.
The emphasis here is on deep relaxation and there’s a spirit of homeliness which encourages it. The kitchen and dining room are open to house guests who are encouraged to help themselves to tea, coffee and home-made cake whenever they fancy it. The same goes for early evening drinks.
In each room there’s an ipad which guests can use for room service or to find out about Susan’s hand-picked hidden gems in the local area. Rooms have a smart TV, Wi-Fi and there’s a ready supply of wellies, jackets, toothbrushes, razors, flippers, woolly hats – you name it. Tempting just to get on a train on the spur of the moment and wing it when you get there.
Susan is keen that Chapel House remains a focal point for the local community
She has invited Newlyn Art School students to exhibit their paintings in the entrance hall, an exhibition which will change every six weeks and plans for the house to become a venue at next year’s Penzance Lit Fest. There are cooking classes with Cornish chefs for adults and children and she hopes to introduce music evenings in the Autumn.
Here, then, is a true one off, a home from home but with indulgence, culture and fabulous views thrown in. We can’t think of a nicer escape.
More details on Chapel House Penzance