Come and worship at the altar of wellness, thanks to Chapel House’s new winter package designed to reset, recharge and reconfigure both body and brain
When most of us hear the word ‘Cornwall’, hot summer weeks filled with sand, drippy ice cream cones and slow-moving traffic spring to mind. But thanks to Chapel House’s new winter package, there’s never been more reason to visit this boutique hotel in the colder months too – especially if you’re a wellness worshipper or fan of cold water swimming.
Nestled amongst the winding streets of Penzance, the coastal town famous for both its pirates and impeccable food scene, this converted property combines Georgian style with modern decor to create the perfect intimate escape. Owned by Susan Stuart, a former charted accountant who left the London rat race for the meandering pace of Cornish life, the house itself is a feast for the senses. Ceilings that stretch to the sky, subtle colour combinations and clean, uncluttered spaces – the entire property is beautiful from tip to stairway toe.
Nestled on the lower floor, the vast kitchen with its delicate blue hues, artwork and glossy counters feels like it belongs on the cover of Architectural Digest. I ask Susan over lunch (well, I’m eating, she’s been slaving away preparing Ottolenghi-inspired dishes) about which architect or studio designed the space. She tells me how they tried commissioning individuals that failed to deliver the goods, so dreamt their own vision up over a bottle of wine and a late night instead. As you do.
The main house features six bedrooms spread across different levels, but if you’re a fan of exclusivity I recommend splashing out on one of the two suites instead, which are found in a separate building located within the courtyard.
Split across two floors, the contemporary suites feature a crisp minimalist design with a Scandinavian feel, juxtaposing white bed linen with brightly-patterned curtains and a simple, clean convergence of textures throughout. Intricate detail is found more within the materials, rather than the furnishings here – a grey stone sink, lightly speckled wooden walls and a contemporary staircase all add to the incredibly stylish ambience.
The suite feels more like your own private apartment as the upstairs floor is kitted out with its own fridge, cupboards, hob and living room section – perfect if you like a cozy night in from time to time or a little DIY dining. The shower area (found downstairs behind the bed) is particularly impressive, and I find myself taking as long as possible to get ready for just a few more stolen minutes in the steamily hot rain shower. I visit sans guest, but this incredible suite would make the ideal pad for a couples getaway too.
Newly launched for 2022 and beyond, the new winter wellness package is designed to help guests reset and recharge. Think less gruelling workout regime fuelled by with carrot shavings and instead, more of a relaxed, wellness-inspired getaway. The new package features the likes of holistic-led spa treatments, hot tub and sauna sessions, a dip in the nearby geothermally-heated Jubilee Pool and for those brave enough to take the plunge, a swim in Penzance harbour or nearby Battery Rocks.
With cold water swimming on the rise (such outings have never been more popular) those who book the experience are joined by Chapel House’s trainer Kate, who guides guests into the water like a mother duck leading her swimsuit-clad chicks.
We set off at sunrise and I follow nervously behind, a complete novice when it comes to shoving my body into Britain’s less than tropical waters. Even my cossie was designed from the Maldives. My lungs sound the alarm when I first let the waves lap up to my neck, but once my breathing resumes and I stop gasping for air from the shock, it feels surprisingly… tepid.
I feel like I should flag that swimming in the ocean is not my strong point. It scares me to my core, always has. I hate not seeing beneath the murky surface, not knowing what might lurk beneath my kicking feet. I face the unknown and follow behind one of the more experienced group members regardless, pushing past my fear until I manage to reach a buoy on the other side of the harbour. Yes, I turned a bit blue in the process. But this experience is excellent for those that want to get out of their comfort zones (and dry robes) a bit.
The Food & Drink
Penzance and the surrounding West Cornwall area offers some of the best food for miles around, with pubs, bars and restaurants aplenty to try. Save time (and room) for a tastebud trip:
2 Best for seafood: The Tolcarne Inn, where old fashioned interiors and a chalkboard menu will have you questioning whether you’ve entered a Poldark set. tolcarneinn.co.uk
3 Best for cocktails: 45 Queen Street. Breathing new life into old, this converted tucked away warehouse now serves up platefuls of local bounty and delicious cocktail options under a ceiling decked out with rattan lampshades. instagram.com/45queenstreet
1 Best for sharing plates: The Cornish Barn at nearby Artist Residence is ideal for fans of both quirky decor and a fun, designed-to-share menu. artistresidence.co.uk
4 Best for teatime: A little tea and homemade cake goes a long way. Served everyday at 4pm in the kitchen, Chapel House’s complimentary daily offering (open to guests only) is an excellent crumb-powered pick-me-up.
The Wordrobe Verdict
The last thing anyone wants in the depths of gloomy winter is a restrictive trip filled with talk of counting calories or mandatory cardio sessions. Pack your favourite jumper and try on this rejuvenating wellness getaway for size instead – where dreamy interiors, tasty mouthfuls and enough cold water to shock you into the next century awaits.
Make it happen
Where: Chapel St, Penzance TR18 4AQ
How: Rates for a two-night package start from £600 for single occupancy and from £900 for double occupancy. Find out more and make a booking via chapelhousepz.co.uk
Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor