GO & STAY
We arrived ‘out of season’ at Chapel House Hotel in Penzance, though I’m pretty sure it’s the best time of all to wind up in the far west of the country. With the crowds dispersed, a chill in the air and sunlight low in the sky, it can be really quite magical, and a great setting for a child-free weekend away.
At Chapel House it really doesn’t matter what the weather’s doing. It’s so very perfect and beautiful I would probably have been quite happy not to step a foot outside the whole weekend and just laze on the comfy sofas all day, flicking through books and gazing at the beautiful artwork displayed from the nearby Newlyn Art School. The whole place is painted in soothing colours; the furnishings and lighting carefully considered and eclectic; a world away from the tired old B&Bs that line the seafront.
Our room was on the top floor, one of three that make up the old servants quarters, now beautifully renovated with a glass atrium roof to take advantage of the views. Our room was simply furnished, with a huge, comfy bed, a walk in shower room, and best of all, a sea view stretching across the bay to St Michael’s Mount in the distance.
Both mornings we were treated to a delicious home cooked breakfast by our lovely host, Susan. Gathering around the large dining table we chatted to the other guests about our plans for the day over great eggs and coffee – it was such a nice start to the day.
EAT & DRINK
The area is a real foodie hotspot so we were spoilt for choice. On our first night, we ventured a short distance around the coast road to the picture-perfect fishing village of Mousehole for supper at the Old Coastguard Inn. We love their nearby sister pub, the Gurnard’s Head, and were pleased to find the same relaxed and scrummy affair using the best local ingredients. The fish stew with fennel and aioli was so good.
On our second night, we again ate really well at the Cornish Barn Smokehouse, a restaurant house in the Artist’s Residence Hotel in Penzance. The menu focuses on fresh and foraged ingredients, with meat and fish cured, hung and smoked in their smokehouse. Do try the smoked courgette and pesto on sourdough and the beer can chicken – delicious!
On our final day we had a lovely lunch at Tremenheere Kitchen & Sculpture Garden. This place is such a find and was the perfect spot to round up the weekend. We ate homemade soup and cakes, gazing out over Penzance Bay before climbing in the car and heading home.
SEE & DO
We were determined to make the most of our short stay. Heading out early on the Saturday we walked twenty minutes south along the promenade to Newlyn, passing Jubilee Pool, the largest art deco Lido in the country, on our way.
Newlyn Art Gallery was our destination and here we found a ‘wet auction’ taking place with sixty local artists, sculptors and photographers all creating a piece in one day. It was fantastic, and I loved the gallery, full of works I wished I could take home with me!
Feeling hungry, we grabbed the car and drove a wonderful, winding fifteen minutes south to one of our favourite beaches, Sennen Cove. The light and sheer rawness of this beach is something to be seen. Fishing boats jostle in the harbour, whilst surfers brave the crashing waves. With a bag of fish and chips for lunch and our stunning sea view we couldn’t have been happier.
After lunch, we drove a few bays further round into Poldark country and the tin mines at Botallack. Oh wow, this place didn’t disappoint. Perched on the cliffs edge in a seemingly impossible position, there they were. Battling against the strong winds, we walked down the cliff path, through the mine ruins to the bottom, watching Kestrels soar and walkers doubling over against the elements.
Back in Penzance, it was great to discover a side of the town we never knew existed. On our short wanders we discovered fabulous little art galleries, great eateries and quirky little shops. One of my favourite discoveries was No. 56 Penzance, a place after my own heart, full of simple and beautiful homewares crafted from natural materials. Here, we couldn’t resist taking some pieces home, along with our rested minds and lungs full of fresh sea air.
Images by Lou Archell