Category Archives: Travel

UK Travel | The Kings Head, Cirencester

UK Travel | The Kings Head, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

A Trip to the Cotswolds

At the end of June, I took my Mum to the Cotswolds to celebrate her birthday. We’d been to the Cotswolds together once several years ago, and, remembering the beautiful countryside and pretty villages, we were excited to explore the region a little more. This time, we stayed at The Kings Head in Cirencester, a picturesque town in the heart of the Cotswolds.

The start of summer is an exquisite time to visit the English countryside, with the promise of lush green vistas, blooming roses and  – if your luck holds – blue skies. Happily, although we did experience a little rain, the sun mainly decided to cooperate and shone gaily for much of our weekend jaunt.

The Kings Head

UK Travel | The Kings Head, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

The train ride from Paddington to Kemble, the closest station to Cirencester, was smooth and fast. We’d barely finished our croissants and tea before pulling into the charming, old-fashioned train station, 1hr and 22 minutes after leaving London. From Kemble, it was a 10 minute drive (we hailed a taxi at the station) before we were dropped off at the doors of The Kings Head Hotel, situated a stone’s throw from the pretty church in the centre of Cirencester.

++ A Historic Past ++

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The Kings Head is a large, beautiful hotel steeped in history. A section of glass flooring near the reception desk reveals part of the remains of an ancient roman road, and records of the building date list it as a coaching inn in the 14th Century. With a history of hospitality spanning hundreds of years, then, it’s not surprising that the hotel is the epitome of elegance and comfort. The wide-range of rooms and event spaces available make it a fantastic choice for either a weekend getaway or occasion gatherings.

Fun details in the decor catch the eye of the particularly observant guest: the head of  the hotel’s eponymous King is engraved on the iron staircase bannisters, starting with him as a baby and ending up a wizened man by the third floor.  I loved how the Kings Head’s fascinating history is reflected in the design throughout the cavernous building: brightly coloured spools of yarn on display reference Cirencester’s wool industry past; ancient artefacts are scattered throughout the maze of the underground cellars and exposed brick walls and original wooden beams have been thoughtfully incorporated into the hotel’s recent renovations.The result is an appealing mix of heritage and modern sensibility and comfort.

++ Feature Space Room ++

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

One of the things I loved most about this hotel was the opulence of sheer space. The room was massive, easily fitting a king size bed, sofa, desk, coffee table and wardrobe. The elegant, muted tones of the decor offset the exposed wooden beams and brick walls perfectly. I was charmed by the bathroom, which had a brick fireplace, large tub and walk-in shower.

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The CotswoldsUK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

My Mum, who loves her coffee in the morning, was delighted by the espresso machine, and I was equally pleased with the good-sized kettle, fresh milk and wide selection of teas. Other thoughtful details included free wi-fi, bottled water and Elemis toiletries (Elemis is a favourite skincare brand of mine, so I was particularly happy to try out their body cream!).

Supper Time

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

Mum and I had spent the afternoon of our first day in Cirencester watching Polo (which I’ll be writing about in my next blog post), and had enjoyed a fabulous lunch and afternoon tea in a beautiful marquee on the Cirencester Park Polo Club grounds. Our stomachs gallantly rose to the occasion, however, and we were able to enjoy a thoroughly appetising supper too.

You know how much I appreciate a great set menu, and the Kings Head dinner menu is fantastic. I was blown away by the quality of the food and the incredible value. The menu offered was £16.50 for two courses or £20 for three. I chose ham hock terrine with piccalilli, toasted brioche and herb salad, followed by grilled fillet of sea bream, crushed potatoes and wilted summer greens. My first choice of summer pudding for dessert was no longer available, so instead I settled on vanilla cheesecake with limoncello sorbet.

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

Everything was delicious: my ham hock terrine was bursting with flavour, and the sea bream was the highlight of the meal for me – cooked to perfection and extremely tasty. I very much enjoyed the cheesecake as well, although I would have preferred a more traditional cheesecake base – the firm biscuit was hard to cut. The sorbet was beautifully refreshing, though, and the creaminess of the cheesecake topping was a lovely pairing with the tartness of the limoncello.

Mum had decided on a goat cheese and beetroot salad with orange dressing, with roast beef and all the trimmings as her main. After her incredible beef, she couldn’t manage even a spoonful of my cheesecake, let alone her own dessert!

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

As you can see, the restaurant’s portions are exceedingly generous! Mum said her beef was superb, and she very much enjoyed the salad to start as well. We each had a glass of the house white wine with our meal, which was crisp and pleasant.

Breakfast, Spa, Prosecco

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

After a refreshing night’s sleep, we made our way down for breakfast, and found that – somehow – we were able to eat again. There was an inviting cold buffet of juices, yoghurt, granola, cold cuts, cheese and pastries, but we both opted for a hot breakfast. I went for scrambled eggs on toast with sausage (delicious), and Mum had a veggie option of avocado, fried mushrooms and tomatoes and toast.

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

Extra toast was served with Tiptree jams and honey, and of course we washed everything down with generous refills of tea and coffee. It was very pleasant to sit and relax over yet another great meal, knowing that we had a further day of fun awaiting us.

The Kings Head Hotel has a large spa, as well as a steam room and fitness centre, and we were both booked in for 30 minute spa treatments after breakfast. I decided on a pedicure, selecting a bright hot-pink varnish to welcome summer, and Mum went for a foot massage and nail buffering. The spa was delightfully calm and quiet, and our beauty technicians were very helpful, giving me open toed slippers so I could walk around the hotel after without smudging my polish.

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

After our spa appointments, we decided to indulge in a glass of prosecco on the hotel’s roof terrace, enjoying the sunshine and letting my polish dry. The terrace offered a fantastic view of the church spire and was a peaceful spot to sit and sip our bubbly, listening to the bees droning over the potted flowers next to us.

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

After our thoroughly relaxing morning, we headed out to discover more of Cirencester.

Exploring Cirencester

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

Cirencester is a historic market town that is full of charm. It’s the perfect place to explore in a post-breakfast stroll, with a pleasing assortment of independent shops, delis and cafes, beautiful walks and an interesting church and art galleries.

++ Tour the Shops ++

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

There’s a good selection of homeware and stationery shops on offer – well worth a browse! Black Jack Street is particularly worthy of a wander, with lots of lovely boutiques and some great cafes.

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

I stumbled across Ocatavia’s, a charming children’s bookshop, and felt like I was stepping into a scene from You’ve Got Mail as I crossed the entrance. Meg Ryan, alas, didn’t greet me from behind the counter, but I still had a very charming assistant who rung up my purchase (a classic pony book by Joanna Cannan) and gave us a recommendation for where to go for tea and cake.

++ Eat Some Cake ++

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

Her suggestion proved to be about a minute walk from the shop: Jack’s Cafe. Mum and I gazed in awe at the selection of absolutely enormous cakes before settling on a slice of coffee and walnut (her) and Bakewell tart (me).

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

The cakes were marvellous – dieting is clearly not an option in the Cotswolds!

++ Walk Up Cecily Hill ++

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

For a classic Cotswold street, full to the brim with charm, look no further than Cecily Hill in Cirencester. The beautiful Cotswold stone houses with matching painted doors and flower pots offer a particularly pretty scene. At the end of the road is a lovely park above what I presumed to be the remains of Cirencester castle.

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I think Cecily Hill must be home to some of the prettiest doors in the Cotswolds – don’t you?

++ Visit the Polo Club ++

UK Travel | The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester | The Cotswolds

The Cirencester Park Polo Club is a 10 minute drive from the town centre and is gorgeous. The grounds are enormous, and we had so much fun watching our very first Polo games. I’ll write more about the experience in my next post, but I definitely recommend stopping by the Club for a meal or even a Polo lesson should you be in the area.

If you’re keen to discover more of the Cotswolds, then I definitely recommend basing yourself at The Kings Head. You’ll be guaranteed a luxurious stay, and Cirencester is an excellent location for exploring more of the area: Bourton-on the-Water and Bibury (a favourite of William Morris!) are two other lovely villages nearby.

***

The Kings Head has rooms available from £140, B&B. Check availability and book online.

Note: Our stay was provided by The Kings Head for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Last week, I joined a group of bloggers at the Artist Residence hotel in London for tea and croissants in the morning, before being bundled into Land Rovers and whisked to the new Artist Residence sister hotel in Oxfordshire, for lunch in the garden and a Dutch flower workshop with Bloom and Wild.

It was the perfect day for an outing, with bright blue skies and a pleasant breeze. The car journey seemed to take no time at all as I chatted with Milly (you may remember her from my Cornwall interview). We arrived just before lunch and were offered a glass of rosé and the chance to explore the hotel, which only opened in May.

I was charmed by the decor, especially the floral House of Hackney wallpaper that was such a striking feature. Some lovely ladies from Bloom and Wild, who were giving us a flower workshop in the afternoon, had set up a gorgeous display of blooms that made my flower loving heart very happy.

Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, OxfordshireBloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I also got to peep into one of the bedrooms, which was gorgeous and looked extremely comfortable. I would have enjoyed lingering in the tub in the light, airy bathroom and writing postcards at the vintage desk.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

After having a look around and taking a million photos between us, we headed out into the garden for lunch, our appetites whetted by the fantastic sounding menu that had been emailed round the day before.

Al Fresco Dining

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Doesn’t that look a delightful table? I felt summer had truly arrived as I took my seat and was offered some more rosé. The outdoor dining area overlooked the hotel’s lawn and vegetable garden, and I was delighted to learn that many of the vegetables and salad leaves served for our lunch were freshly picked from the garden.

The hotel had cooked up a fabulous feast for us. To start, we were given sharing platters of crispy whitebait with garlic sauce; mozzarella, pea, broad bean and mint salad; heritage tomato salad with ewes curd and olives; and scotch eggs served alongside homemade brown sauce.

The main course was lamb wellington, with buttered Cornish potatoes, a green salad (from the garden!), barbecued radishes (also from the garden) and violet artichokes. I was beginning to seriously doubt whether I could manage dessert (strawberries with toasted marshmallows, lime curd and strawberry sorbet), but when it arrived it looked so delicious I couldn’t resist.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

The food was all absolutely incredible, and it was glorious to enjoy it outside on a lovely day in excellent company.

Dutch Flower Workshop

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

After our meal, we went back into the cool, shady interior of the hotel for our Dutch flower painting inspired workshop. I was particularly excited for this workshop, as I love Dutch floral still life pictures, and there was a glorious selection of flowers awaiting us to help feed our inspiration.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, OxfordshireBloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Rowan, pictured above, talked us through the process of arranging our flowers, making it look incredibly easy as she finished her lovely floral display in about 10 minutes flat.

I settled down with a cup of chamomile tea and set to work, choosing a selection of blooms I liked best, and trying to create a loose, tumbling arrangement, featuring the striking colours that I often admire in my favourite Dutch floral artworks.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I sat next to the charming Briony from A Girl A Style, and we bonded over our mutual love for books, flowers and pretty teacups.

After a hair-raising moment when my display threatened to topple over, and I had to pop in a few dahlias to balance it out, I pronounced mine finished.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I don’t think I’ll be setting up as a florist any time soon, but I was still pleased with my result.

On being told it was time to leave, we were kindly showered with leftover blooms to take back home with us (I got some funny looks later on the tube as I maneuvered my way along platforms, weighted down by my spoils!).

It really was the most perfect English summer day, and I’m now contemplating buying some florist foam so I can have a go at some more flower arranging – practice makes perfect, as they say!

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

Oxford is always a favourite place of mine; I love its winding, cobbled streets, awe-inspiring buildings and quaint pubs. I used to visit Oxford quite a bit to see my friend Sophie during our undergrad years, but as life got busier my visits became far less frequent. Happily, though, this blog has inspired me to travel much more around the UK, and I’m hoping to visit Oxford again, either in the summer or early autumn.

The last time I went to Oxford was to attend the Literary Festival a few years ago (you can read my post about it here), and, feeling that quite a bit has probably changed since then, I got in touch with a Miranda’s Notebook reader and Oxford resident, Aleksandra of Bunnies Are Magic, to give me a few insider tips to the city. She shared her suggestions, paired with gorgeous photographs, for a fun weekend in Oxford, experiencing a lesser-known side to this famous destination.

Aleksandra’s Oxford Tips

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

To a foreigner, the spires of Oxford are one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks.  I’m speaking as a foreigner myself, but also as a person who has now lived in Oxford for a fair amount of time (long enough to discover how hard it is to get from St Magdalen’s bus stops to the high street in July!). I’ve learnt there is more to this one-of-a-kind town than its tourist attractions – a whole host of different experiences waiting to be discovered.

Cocktail Hour

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

++ There are plenty of bars in Jericho, an area just slightly north of the city centre. Raoul’s has never disappointed me with their ever-changing menu, and then there is Freud as well, which is based in a very impressive old church building.

International Dining

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

++ If you’re a Thai food fan, Thaikhun it is a definite must.

++ For a budget restaurant option, try Turtle Bay. Their spicy mojitos are to die for, trust me, I am a true mojito connoisseur. You can enjoy your relatively cheap food while listening to some Caribbean versions of pop hits too. What’s not to love?

++ For a cup of tea with an Asian twist, the place to go is Formosan Tea Bar.

A Walk on the Wild Side

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

++ If you want to get a good idea of how rural Oxford can be, I suggest a walk by the Oxford Canal between Summertown and the town centre. The canal itself is a real treat for anyone interested in nature walks, and if you take the walk on a Sunday, you can enjoy Summertown market, famously known for its owl visitors (from the Heathrow Owl Rescue Centre).

++ Trap Grounds is a waterfowl haven. Tucked away between the canal and the railway, it may well be the only truly wild and uninhabited part of Oxford. Looking over the reeds, it’s the perfect place to catch the most beautiful of Oxford’s sunrises too; a little masterpiece of nature.

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

++ Port Meadow holds a great surprise for all unprepared visitors…ponies! They’re friendly if you approach them with care, and they will come to you looking for food, although I would advise treating them with a bit more caution than stable horses.

++ Christ Church College is surrounded by the most wonderful park (my very favourite of Oxford’s parks), that leads all the way to the Thames. You can find geese, swans, ducks, and even cows. If you follow the Thames back towards the high street, at the very edge of the park you will find a botanical garden too.

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

Culture

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

++ On 23rd June, a Jane Austen exhibition is opening at the Bodleian that I expect many Miranda’s Notebook readers might find interesting.

++ Oxford’s Phoenix Picture House is one of my favourite cinemas. Its atmosphere is hard to describe, with everything an old cinema needs and just a little bit more.

++ I also recommend seeing  the wonderful Creation Theatre perform one of their plays; something that everyone should experience at least once in their life.

UK Travel | A Different Side to Oxford

Thanks so much to Aleksandra for her fabulous suggestions! I now want to book a ticket to Oxford straight away.

If you’d like to read more about Aleksandra’s life in Oxford, check our her blog. Aleksandra also writes more personal articles, such as 25 Wishes For My Future Self and How to Ruin Your Work Day. You can also find her on twitter, facebook and instagram.  

UK Travel | The Great House at Sonning

UK Travel | The Great House at Sonning

A TEA & TATTLE MINI BREAK

A couple of weekends ago, I met my best friend (and Tea & Tattle Podcast co-host), Sophie, at Paddington station to take the train to Reading together. From there, we grabbed a taxi to drive us the short distance to The Great House, a luxury riverside hotel in Sonning, Berkshire.

It had been a few months since Sophie and I had seen each other in person, and even longer since we’d spent more than a few hours together, so I was very much looking forward to a proper catch-up. We were both in need of a restorative break after a particularly busy month, and I was very much looking forward to taking life at a slower pace for the next 24 hours. The prospect of riverside walks, good food and long, hot baths was incredibly cheering, and I couldn’t wait to arrive at the hotel.

The 40 minute train journey went by in a blink of an eye as we caught up on each other’s news, and we managed to hail a taxi immediately at the station, so it felt no time at all before we were catching a glimpse of the hotel as the cab manoeuvred its way across the pretty little bridge that led into Sonning.

Sonning is a charming, sleepy little village graced by the presence of some rather spectacular celebrities (George and Amal Clooney have a house in the area and are said to frequent the local pub, but sadly we didn’t spot either!). Neither Sophie nor I know Berkshire very well, so we were pleased to get a glimpse of English countryside new to us both, but also within such easy distance from London and Oxford (where Sophie lectures).

On arriving at The Great House, we were greeted with friendly smiles at the hotel’s reception desk, speedily checked in and shown to our room, a riverside deluxe.

ROOM WITH A {RIVERSIDE} VIEW

The riverside deluxe lived up to its name, with gorgeous views of the river, boats and willow trees from our window. Sophie and I decided to take some time to relax, enjoy the room and make a cup of tea before heading out for a stroll along the riverbank.

We were both delighted with our surroundings, which featured exposed brick walls, quirky prints and retro furnishings. I loved the old-fashioned bedside telephone, radio and fridge, as well as the stacks of vintage Penguin paperbacks on both bedside tables. Goodie bags had been thoughtfully left on both our beds, and we were excited to unpack bottles of cider, beeswax candles and boxes of sweets. The holiday spirit was truly kicking in!

I was extremely impressed by the bathroom (when you live in London, a bathroom of any notable size really is exciting), which was massive and boasted one of the nicest tubs I’d ever seen, as well as a magnificent walk-in shower that wasn’t much smaller than my office at home.

I made a mental note to take a bath later in the evening, and was pleased to see piles of magazines, including the latest Vogue, in our room, which I planned to flick through whilst luxuriating in bubble bath.

It’s clear that the staff at The Great House give careful consideration to the needs of their guests, and I was very pleased to find a wide selection of teas and a whole 1/4 pint carton of fresh milk in our little pantry and fridge area. I made myself a cup of English Breakfast and Sophie an Earl Grey, and we got down to the serious business of living up to our podcast name and having a good natter.

After an hour or so, we decided to take advantage of the glimmer of sun that was starting to break through the overcast skies and set off for a walk.

RIVERSIDE WALKS AND PUB DRINKS

Winding our way through the hotel’s spacious lounge and restaurant, we exited the terrace side and walked through a little gate at the end of the lawn, coming out onto the river path.

The stretch of river running through Sonning is exceedingly picturesque, and we admired the white, lacy clouds of cow parsley clustered along the riverbank and the lush green landscape. Willow leaves rustled in the breeze, making me think of The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame lived in Berkshire and was inspired by the countryside when writing his famous novel, and it was all too easy to imagine Ratty or Mole popping up on the riverbank. As it was, though, we only saw the odd cow and dog-walker!

Having mutual friends who lived in the area, we’d arranged to meet them for a drink at The Bull Inn in the early evening, so we headed back in the direction of the pub (a convenient 5 minute walk from the hotel).

The Bull Inn is a beautiful, old-fashioned pub, featuring oak beamed ceilings and wisteria climbing the timbered walls (it must look spectacular when in bloom!). Ordering glasses of white wine, we took our seats outside to enjoy the fresh evening air and exchange news.

After chatting for a while, it was time to return for supper, so we said goodbye and set off down the lane, passing the pretty village church on our way back to The Great House.

SUPPER

Sophie and I had worked up an appetite with all our walking and talking, so we eagerly made our way to The Coppa Club restaurant at the hotel. We were given a table right by the terrace, so we could continue to enjoy the view of the river and the hotel’s lawn, strewn with deckchairs for guests enjoying the long summer evening.

We ordered two glasses of rosé and picked up our menus, basking in the late-evening sunlight pouring through the large windows.

The all-day Coppa Club menu has a wide selection of tasty dishes at very reasonable prices, so it’s easy to see why the restaurant is so popular with Sonning locals as well as guests of the hotel.

To start, I ordered crispy fried squid with Sriracha mayonnaise and paprika, followed by veal schnitzel with all the trimmings (fried egg, capers and anchovies), and flourless chocolate and almond cake with orange crème fraîche for dessert. We’d also decided to share some side dishes: some mixed greens (peas, broad beans and asparagus) and skinny fries.

I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. Crispy fried squid is always a favourite of mine, and I liked the addition of a slightly spicy mayo. The schnitzel was just as good as any I’ve had in Austria, and as for the dessert…! You know chocolate is my weakness, and this was one of the best flourless chocolate cakes I’ve had. It was so rich I couldn’t eat all of it, but the mouthfuls I had were absolutely delicious.

Sophie said her choices were fantastic as well. She went for a fresh crab, avocado and crostini salad to start, followed by corn fed chicken with potatoes and house slaw, and a mini butterscotch pudding for dessert (a rather more restrained choice than my own!).

After our lovely meal we waddled our way back to the room, and Sophie propped herself up on the massive (and very comfy) cushions to read in bed whilst I grabbed Vogue and ran a hot bath.

BREAKFAST

The next day, we got up at a fairly leisurely pace, making some more tea and taking turns to use the magnificent shower. We both mentioned how much we liked the toiletries provided, which were by FAIR CosmEthics and smelt heavenly.

Sophie had to get to Oxford by lunchtime, and I had a long to-do list waiting for me in London, so we made our way down for breakfast at 8.45. The Great House has a very large downstairs dining space, with comfy corners filled with large, squishy couches and shelves stocked with books, as well as an impressive bar and numerous tables.

Breakfast was served in an attractive corner of the restaurant, featuring pale wooden floors and a large fireplace.

We ordered tea and coffee, and Sophie settled on the Full English breakfast, with fried eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, mushrooms, black pudding and toast. It looked amazing!

I was very happy with my own choice, though,  of avocado toast with  poached eggs and kiln smoked salmon.

By the way, note the gargantuan cup of tea in the photo above – big enough to satisfy even my early morning tea needs!

A HOTEL TOUR

After polishing off our breakfasts, I left Sophie to get her things together as I was given a tour of the hotel by one of the lovely managers, Trudi.

I was interested to learn that The Great House had only recently undergone an extensive renovation, redesigning the rooms and extending the hotel to include the various buildings scattered around its small courtyard. The hotel now offers many more rooms, ranging from their smallest ‘cosy’ to impressive suites and an event space ideal for weddings. For those with canine family members, you’ll be happy to know that dog-friendly rooms are offered too!

++ Coach House Apartment ++

The Coach House apartment is a truly impressive space, featuring an extra room that can be used for either sleeping or as a TV room. It even has its own popcorn making machine, making movie nights even more appealing.

++ Clock Tower Family Suite ++

I especially liked the Clock Tower Family Suite, which had the most adorable little beds for children, as well as a spacious lounge area.

++ Clock Tower Suite ++

 With its large meeting table and separate bedroom and seating area, the Clock Tower Suite is the perfect choice for any business gatherings.

I was also shown some other deluxe and cosy rooms, and I was so impressed by the top-notch design and comfort of all the rooms. The common aesthetic helps to provide a consistent quality of experience, whatever the room size.

Finally, just as the rain was starting to fall in earnest (a pleasant Sunday had given way to wet and windy Monday), I was whisked across the courtyard to see the large, long event space, dedicated to weddings and other big gatherings.

I loved the beautiful fireplace at one end of the room, and the french doors that opened out onto a spacious patio, with lawns leading to the river. Apparently, it’s quite common for brides to arrive by boat!

After my tour, I quickly got my things together, so we were downstairs in time for our taxi, which the receptionist had kindly arranged for us.

Sophie and I parted at Reading Station, having agreed we’d had the most marvellous time and plotting further adventures together!

++ Rooms start from £60 a night (what a bargain!) at The Great House. Click here for more information and to book. ++

Note: our stay and meals at The Great House were complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

A LONDON STAYCATION

Last week, I was lucky enough to celebrate the start of half-term by spending a night at The Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell, one of my favourite areas in London. I’d never had a proper London staycation before, but after my wonderful time, I hope to have a few more! It was one of the most fun, relaxing experiences I’ve ever had in London.

Checking into The Zetter Hotel definitely felt like checking into 24 hours of fun and freedom, but without any of the hassle that usually must be got through before a holiday: no panic over passports and tickets, no drama when trains to Gatwick are  inevitably cancelled, no 5am alarm clock…etc etc. I simply hopped on the metropolitan line for 20 minutes, before getting off at Farringdon station and ambling happily towards the hotel.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

If you’re visiting London, then Clerkenwell is a lovely location in which to base yourself. Full of history, fantastic restaurants, and independent shops, it still has an undiscovered, unspoilt air that makes it special to Londoners (scroll to the bottom for some of my suggestions as to what to do in the area).

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Only a short walk from the station, I passed through an ancient archway to find myself at the hotel, which is situated in a very pretty courtyard, across from The Zetter Townhouse (a sister hotel, serving fantastic cocktails in a beautiful setting) and The Modern Pantry (I love their afternoon tea).

The Zetter Hotel is housed in a renovated Victorian warehouse and is beautifully designed, befitting an area that celebrates urban aesthetic (I’d just missed Clerkenwell Design Week, which ended before my stay). The hotel is also notable for its sustainable features and was given a Gold award for Green Tourism. I was amazed to learn that the hotel’s water comes from their own bore-hole under the building!

Downstairs is the stylish restaurant and wine bar, and these rather gorgeous lifts lead up to the 59 rooms:

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Aren’t they fabulous?! Here’s a closer look at the quirky wall design:

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

After ogling the lifts, I was warmly greeted at the Reception desk (this marked the beginning of the absolutely outstanding service I received at the hotel) and told I was being checked into a rooftop deluxe room on the top floor. I was then whisked up in the elevator and shown around my room.

ROOFTOP DELUXE ROOM

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

My rooftop deluxe was absolute heaven – spacious and comfortable with floor to ceiling windows opening out onto a gigantic private balcony. I loved the soothing colour scheme and mid-century style furniture, which added such elegance to the room.

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Comfort, as well as style, is clearly carefully considered at The Zetter Hotel, and there were lots of pleasing touches, like the snazzy espresso machine (which made very good coffee), free wi-fi, fresh milk, a well stocked fridge and nibbles, REN products in the bathroom,  fluffy bathrobes and the wonderfully comfy bed. There was even a hot water bottle, complete with knitted cover, for colder nights.

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I also appreciated the thoughtfully chosen bedside Penguin books (I adore Margery Allingham mysteries!), magazines, bottled still and sparkling water and delicious chocolate truffles. If only my own bedside table was kept readily stocked with such lovely supplies!

ROOFTOP VIEWS

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

To my mind, though, the truly spectacular feature of the room was the magnificent balcony. I made a cup of tea and sat and drank it on one of the deckchairs, enjoying the sunshine and the fantastic views of the city.

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I had a few hours to spend before supper at the hotel,  which my lovely friend Claire was joining me for, so I passed the time happily reading on the balcony in preparation for an upcoming Tea & Tattle interview and having a few more cups of tea (room service responded instantly to my request for more milk).

COCKTAILS AND SUPPER

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

It felt no time at all until Claire was tapping at my door, and after showing her round my room and admiring the views together, we made our way downstairs for the complimentary wine cocktails that are one of the perks of booking a room in advance at The Zetter.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

We both went for white wine sangrias (so refreshing!), which arrived with a serving of plump green olives, and we happily chatted away as we perused the menu, trying to decide what we fancied. I snapped a few photos of the Wine Room and Restaurant, as I loved the striking bar and plush, jewel-coloured furniture.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

I was very impressed with the menu, which was reasonably priced and offered a delectable selection of dishes. I’d like to go back with my Mum soon, as she works very close by, and dinner at The Zetter would make a lovely post-work treat one evening, especially as it’s her birthday month!

In the end, I settled for English asparagus, crispy hen’s egg and cured ham, followed by rib-eye steak, chips and béarnaise sauce, with chocolate mousse for dessert.

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Everything was mouthwateringly good. The asparagus was perfectly cooked, and my steak was fantastic: tender and flavourful. The chips and béarnaise sauce were dangerously more-ish too, and of course a chocolate dessert is always a winner in my book, especially when it’s so beautifully presented. The meal was excellent: classic, skilfully executed and exceedingly tasty.

We washed it all down with a carafe of white wine from their wine on tap selection, which is a super idea that means you’re offered many fantastic wines at very reasonable prices.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Claire very much enjoyed her supper as well, going for beetroot salad with goats curd, pine nuts and apple, followed by cod with seaweed crushed potatoes and creamed mussels, and Amalfi lemon posset with raspberry compote for dessert.

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I’d like to try all of those dishes on a return trip myself! It was so much fun chatting with Claire, who was filling me in on her exciting travel plans and great book recommendations. In contrast to our usual London meet ups, this time I had a 1 minute travel time back to my room after saying goodbye –  the ultimate luxury for a Londoner!

BREAKFAST

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

I had a fantastic night’s sleep; the pillows were incredibly soft, the room was the perfect temperature, and I was amazed by how quiet it was, considering I was sleeping in the heart of a busy city.

After my usual journaling, stretching and instagraming in the morning, I felt quite hungry, despite the impressive meal the night before. I got dressed, first delighting in the walk-in ‘raindance’ shower, before heading down to breakfast.

I went for the Zetter Full English Breakfast: eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, tomato, mushroom and black pudding, with copious amounts of tea of course. It was delicious and certainly set me up for the day!

EXPLORING CLERKENWELL

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

I was quite sad to leave the hotel, but consoled myself by making plans to meet up with my friend Arthur later in the day and having a thorough stroll through Clerkenwell. I thought I’d list a few suggestions for fun places to go within the immediate area, should you fancy spending time at The Zetter Hotel yourself:

// The Cloister Garden //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

Opposite The Zetter Hotel is the Museum of the Order of St John, which is well worth paying a visit, especially for the courtyard garden, which is a beautiful and tranquil space.

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// Marby & Elm //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | Marby and Elm

This fun stationery shop, across the road from The Zetter, is the perfect place to go to stock up on quirky, colourful cards and notebooks, and it sells a lovely selection of candles inspired by London locations – I was particularly taken with the Hampstead Heath candle, but you could stick to your surroundings and go for the Clerkenwell Blue scent!

// St John Bread and Wine //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine

One of my favourite places to go in London, St John Bread and Wine  is only a short walk from The Zetter Hotel. The St John Restaurant is fantastic too, but I generally stick to a glass of wine and the bar menu in the evening, or a cup of tea and sweet treat in the afternoon. Typically British fare is offered: the eccles cakes are famous, and I love the seed cake and vanilla custard doughnuts too.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and WineLondon Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine

// The Zetter Townhouse //

London Staycation | The Zetter Townhouse | Clerkenwell

Finally, even if you’re staying at the The Zetter Hotel, it’s well worth nipping over the cobblestones to their sister hotel, The Zetter Townhouse, which has one of the prettiest front doors in London and serves fantastic cocktails in beautiful surroundings that make you feel as if you’re in a rather grand English drawing room.

+++ Rooms are available from £258 inc VAT at The Zetter Hotel. You can check availability and book here. +++

Note: my stay and meals at The Zetter Hotel were complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

T&T 30 | Travel Journalling and More

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week, Sophie joins me on the podcast for Part 2 of our travel discussion. We talk about the joys of travel journalling, sharing ideas for fun things to include in your journal, as well as other ways to make the most out of a trip. Sophie and I both love to experience the local cuisine and culture as much as possible, as well as shop for special mementos to bring back for friends, family and ourselves.

Listen to hear our best tips for travel journalling and other ideas for making the most of your holiday.  

UK Travel | Guide to Penzance

Guide to Penzance: What to Shop, Eat, Explore, Sleep and Read

The final instalment of my Penzance Travel Series on Miranda’s Notebook.

This is my final blog post about Penzance, featuring a general guide to the area that I hope you’ll find a useful reference for if ever you visit the area. Apologies it’s taken me awhile to write, but I’ve just finished a crazy week, where everything seemed to go wrong all at once. Happily, though, I’ve just started half term, and I’m looking forward to having more time to concentrate on blogging.

I hope you enjoy this guide to Penzance. I have included the places I loved best from my visit, as well as some I would love to visit next time.

Shop

Guide to Penzance: What to Shop, Eat, Explore, Sleep and Read

Chapel Street is a shopper’s delight. It’s full of intriguing antique shops, second-hand books and beautiful homeware supplies. Here are some of the shops I loved the most:

Number 56. This lifestyle shop’s focus is on beautiful as well as functional design. Full of handcrafted goods, attractive stationery and gorgeous perfumes, it’s easy to spend hours browsing. I picked up a pretty notebook, handmade soap, a wooden butter knife and plate and an enamel teapot. It was hard to restrain myself to only those purchases, and I’ll definitely be checking out the online shop regularly.

Newlyn Books and Endpaper (both situated in Captain Cutters House). A mix of secondhand books and lovely stationery, these are two more shops in which to enjoy a lovely browse. I admired the impressive collection of orange penguin books, and I was happy to discover the fabulous artist Liekeland, picking up a few of her characterful cards to bring back to London.

& Living. Scandi-inspired homeware, full of cute cushions and brightly coloured ceramics.

Pure Nuff Stuff. For natural, handmade skincare products. I love their Dream Cream, which was part of a toiletries gift box I received when staying at Chapel House. All Pure Nuff Stuff products are made in small batches, so you can even get some custom made according to your personal preferences.

Fishboy. Quirky clothing and accessories, featuring many designs that are screen-printed in house. Pick up a Penzance-themed t-shirt for the man in your life.

There are also some fantastic shops to discover near to Chapel Street:

Barton Books. This bookshop is an utter delight, offering a small but exceptionally well curated stock. I discovered the charming Do Book Company books here, which I mentioned in this recent Tea & Tattle episode, and there were many more books that I wished I could have carried back in my suitcase.

Curios. Crammed full of vintage china, this shop is a treasure trove for those – like me– who love to collect old-fashioned teacups. I bought a dainty rose-patterned cup that has featured in many of my Instagram photos since and serves as a lovely reminder of my Cornwall holiday.

Bohemia. Specialising in local ceramics and craft, this is a great shop to pick up a unique piece. Everything is thoughtfully displayed, and the owner is very helpful, filling you in on the details of local artists and ceramicists whose work she features. I bought a beautiful handcrafted mug that serves a striking ornament, as well as functional piece.

Seasalt. This women’s clothing and homeware shop is the perfect place to pick up a striped jersey top. They come in all different colours (pink, green, light blue, dark blue, yellow etc stripes) and several styles, so you can find the perfect Breton look for you.

Make Industries. I loved this small deli, which stocked a good range of local specialties. I picked up several bars of beautifully packaged chocolate the Cornish company Kernow Chocolate.

Explore

Guide to Penzance: What to Shop, Eat, Explore, Sleep and Read

Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange. This contemporary art gallery offers small, but well chosen exhibitions in an attractive space. I had the pleasure of seeing a Joy Gregory photography show whilst in Penzance, which was a real delight.

Jubilee Pool. Sadly closed when I was in Penzance, this stunning Art Deco pool was recently restored to its former glory and is definitely a must-visit during the warmer months in Penzance.

St Michael’s Mount. This enchanting castle on a tiny, rocky island has a fairytale quality to it that is bound to captivate. Read my full blog post about the castle and gardens here.

Penlee House. I loved exploring this art gallery and museum, housed in a beautiful historic home. Paintings displayed are by the Newlyn School artists from 1880-1940, and a highlight for me was seeing some sketches by Laura Knight. There were also some fascinating textiles and clothing to admire.

Polgoon Vineyard. I’ve definitely got this vineyard on my list to visit whenever I’m next in Penzance. Their wine tastings sound a lot of fun, and I always appreciate the chance to try some British wines.

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens. Especially dazzling in the springtime, when bluebells carpet the ground of the woods, it’s worth the short drive from Penzance to enjoy this beautiful valley garden. Read more of my visit here.

Morrab Library. Located in the pretty Morrab Gardens, this library promises ‘floor to ceiling shelves in the rambling rooms of a delightful Victorian building’, and is on my list for a return visit.

Eat

Guide to Penzance: What to Shop, Eat, Explore, Sleep and Read

The Shore. For a truly special experience, nothing beats Bruce Rennie’s fantastic seafood restaurant. Read my full review of it here.

Newlyn Art Gallery cafe. A real highlight of the Newlyn Art Gallery is their gorgeous cafe, which is light and spacious, has a sweet reading corner for children, and is great for a cup of tea, cake or a light lunch.

The Front Room. A charming spot for breakfast, brunch and light lunches. You can read my full review here.

The Cornish Hen. Their Cornish pasties are meant to be brilliant.

The Honey Pot. Several people recommended cake at the Honey Pot to us, and it did not disappoint! We were served generous slabs of warm apple cake, served with a lavish helping of Cornish clotted cream. Delicious! It’s a good idea to book a table in advance here, though (even for just tea and cake), as it gets extremely busy.

Fraser’s Fish & Chips. Order fish & chips to go and enjoy munching them as you stroll along the promenade.

Sleep

Guide to Penzance: What to Shop, Eat, Explore, Sleep and Read

Chy-An-Mor. A charming, family-run B&B with pretty, comfortable rooms, fantastic breakfasts and views of the sea. Read my review here.

Chapel House. Gorgeous interiors, spacious, well-designed rooms and delicious, home-cooked food. This would also be an ideal wedding venue. Read my full review here.

Artist Residence Hotel. Also situated on Chapel Street, this hotel offers attractive rooms and a well-respected restaurant.

Myrtle House Penzance. A beautiful Georgian house that can we rented for a minimum of 3 nights. Perfect for a self-catering holiday with friends or family.

The Egyptian House. Part of the Landmark Trust, it’s possible to rent apartments for short stays in this extraordinary building on Chapel Street.

Read

Guide to Penzance: What to Shop, Eat, Explore, Sleep and Read

I always find that reading books set in the area in which I’m holidaying adds a great deal to my enjoyment and appreciation of an area. Here’s a suggested Cornwall reading list for you:

Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, Frenchman’s Creek and Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier.

Poldark Series by Winston Graham

A Gull on the Roof by Derek Tangye

The Shell-Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (set in Scotland, but the lighthouse that provided inspiration for Woolf is in Cornwall.)

The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley

The Valley of Secrets by Charmian Hussey

Have you ever been to Penzance? Do let me know if you have any recommendations for places I’ve missed!

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Guide to Penzance: What to Shop, Eat, Explore, Sleep and Read

T&T 28 | Travel Planning and Packing Tips

Listen to the latest episode of Tea & Tattle Podcast here or on iTunes.

In today’s episode, Sophie joins me on the podcast to chat about travel. We share our top tips for planning a journey and packing efficiently. I loved Sophie’s advice about what she always has in her carry on and how she always tries to put fresh sheets on the bed before leaving for a holiday, so that her home is especially inviting on return. We both talk about our planning timeline leading up to a trip, detailing what we plan months, weeks, days and even hours in advance.

Sophie and I had a lot of fun sharing ideas in this episode, and we felt there was so much more we could have said, so we’re planning a Part 2 for our next joint Tea & Tattle episode, where we’ll be talking about making the most of a trip, including fun ideas for keeping a travel journal. If there’s a particular travel-related topic you’d like us to discuss as well, then do let us know!

Listen to hear our best tips for travel planning and packing.  

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael’s Mount

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

This post is part of a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!

In my penultimate post covering my Penzance visit, I’ve got another must-see attraction for you. St Michael’s Mount is a castle perched on top of a tiny rocky island, a short distance from Marazion beach. The castle was (and still is) a family home for centuries and has a rich and intriguing history. It is now part of the National Trust, which we were happy to discover as our membership cards let us in for free.

The Causeway

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

The island is accessible either by walking the causeway at low tide, or by boat at high. We managed to time our visit whilst the causeway was clear, so we could enjoy the short walk across. I’d been a bit worried that I didn’t have any wellington boots, but fortunately when the tide is low these are completely unnecessary (although do warned that when the tide comes in, it comes in fast – we witnessed some poor people having to wade, knee deep in seawater, for part of the way back – and I have a sneaking suspicion that this misjudgement provides near daily entertainment for the locals…).

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

The walk takes a mere 10 minutes and gives you the chance to enjoy spectacular views of the coast and the looming castle ahead, so I do recommend trying to do the walk if possible.

The Gardens

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

It seems an unlikely spot for a garden to flourish, as plants are prey to extreme winds, but the rocks act as a sort of radiator, absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night, creating a micro climate where sub-tropical plants flourish.

Steep, twisting paths wind up the sides of the rocks, where you can explore the different gardens and admire the views as you go (this, by the way, is not the place to visit if you suffer from vertigo, or have trouble navigating uneven surfaces.).

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You have the option to explore either the gardens or castle, or both. I wanted to see both, but access to castle is restricted from the garden side, so I walked back around the island to the entrance point for the castle.

The Castle

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

I was in for another steep climb up to the castle (by this time, I’d left my Mum, who’d had enough walking for one day, comfortably ensconced at the NT cafe). I very much enjoyed the walk, even if it took some courage to approach the battalion walls and get a shot looking down….

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

I felt the romantic, isolated nature of the place was simply crying out to be made the setting of a Daphne du Maurier-type novel.

Some of the rooms are available to view, and they are richly and elegantly furnished, befitting a castle that has received royalty.

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

A visit to St Michael’s Mount is definitely worth it if you’re in the area. Tickets are £14 per adult to see the castle and garden (or free if you are a National Trust member). You can check opening times here.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

This post is part of a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!

Our second night in Penzance was spent at the boutique townhouse B&B, Chapel House, appropriately situated opposite the church at the end of picturesque Chapel Street. Formerly the Penzance Arts Club, owner Susan Stuart took the opportunity to breathe fresh life into this beautiful Georgian building, turning it into a serene, light-filled dwelling space.

When researching our trip, I’d seen lots of images of Chapel House popping up on instagram, and thought it looked gorgeous, so was anxious to see if the reality lived up to my expectations. As you’ll see, it most certainly did!

Chapel House

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Opening the heavy front door, the bell jangled as we stepped into the spacious hallway of the house, decorated with a big wooden side table and wall displays of art from the Newlyn School of Art (I liked this nod to the building’s artistic past).

After a friendly welcome, we were shown to our room and told that freshly baked brownies would be on their way up to us in a moment (it really is impossible not to enjoy your food when you’re in Cornwall!).

Our Room

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Our room was situated at the very top of the house, with splendid views of the church tower and, from our communal landing, further out to sea.

I loved the pops of colour in our room, and the thoughtful details like fluffy dressing gowns and slippers provided, an iPad with information about Chapel House and room service options, a box filled with toiletries from the local skincare company Pure Nuff Stuff, and freshly stocked tea, coffee and milk supplies (alongside the home-baked brownies – delicious!). The decor showcased a mix of contemporary and classic design, with vintage radios and modern artworks common features in each room.

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The bathroom in our room was fabulous, with a gigantic tub and a skylight that opens overhead, so, if you wish, you could draw a hot bath and open the skylight to look at the stars at night. Isn’t that romantic? I myself enjoyed a good soak and a good book (Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, partly set in Cornwall) before going down to dinner later that evening.

A Tour of the House

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

After settling into our room, I was invited to take a tour of the house, so I set off on a wander, camera in hand. There are 6 double bedrooms available to book, and each one is beautiful and spacious, with its own unique character and charm. Taking inspiration from the seaside setting, Chapel House is decorated throughout in muted greys, greens and blues, which lend the rooms a dream-like, airy quality that is pleasantly relaxing.

The abundance of natural light strikes a note of pure joy into the heart of any photographer, and I fervently wished I could use Chapel House as the backdrop to my interior shots forever and ever.

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Staying at this B&B feels more like being a guest in someone’s home, with its air of elegant informality and welcoming atmosphere. Shelves of books, a plethora of magazines and comfy chairs are strategically placed throughout the public areas of the house, and it’s hard to resist the urge to simply stand and stare in front of the beautiful views offered by the wide windows.

The drawing rooms are exceptionally lovely, and are the perfect place to enjoy an evening drink, or a cup of tea with a good book. In the winter, there’s the promise of a fire and extra cosy blankets, too.

Supper in the Kitchen

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Good eating, as well as beautiful interior design, lies at the core of the Chapel House experience. As well as cooked breakfast and homemade cake each afternoon, supper is offered for your first night, or over the weekend. Made by Susan – a consummate chef –  in the spacious kitchen downstairs, it’s not to be missed.

We started the evening with prosecco and olives in the living room, chatting over our day’s adventures, before moving downstairs, where we were greeted by the delicious aromas of our meal being prepared.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Our table was drawn up by the fire, which is lit on colder nights, and where we could sit and chat to Susan as she busied herself with the supper preparations at the other end of the stunning kitchen. It was inspiring to hear her story of her move from London and adventures in restoring Chapel House to its former grandeur.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

We’d given our choices from the menu offered previous to our arrival. I’d stuck with seafood throughout (when in Cornwall, after all…) and had selected scallops and wild chives for my first course, with crab cannelloni for the second.

Mum had chosen scallops to start as well, followed by roast chicken wrapped in prosciutto. We’d chosen a bottle of white wine suggested by Susan to pair with our meal, which was excellent.

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The scallops, plump and melting in the mouth, were superb, and the main courses did not disappoint either. I loved my hearty serving of cannelloni, which happily had a fresh green salad served alongside to lighten the dish. Mum’s roast chicken was succulent and tasty.

All the meals at Chapel House are cooked using local, seasonal ingredients, and there’s a real charm to sitting in a homely kitchen and watching your meal prepared in front of you. For dessert, I (predictably, as ever!) went for chocolate torte, with Cornish clotted cream and fresh raspberries, and Mum decided to try the cheese platter, with its selection of locally made cheese.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B ReviewUK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

They were both a delightful end to the meal. My chocolate torte was heavenly, especially with the cream (surely Cornish clotted cream is the very best), and Mum’s cheese plate was delicious too. Despite being extremely full, I had a tiny sliver of the Gouda, which Susan told us was made by a Scandinavian cheesemaker settled in Cornwall. It was exceptional!

Breakfast

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Rather unbelievably, given our fantastic meal the night before, we were both ready for our breakfast the following morning. Making our way down to the kitchen again, we were met with an impressive array of freshly made juices, fruit salad, bread, croissants, granola, muesli and yoghurt.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

I helped myself to a small bowl of yoghurt and fruit, with a sprinkling of granola and sat down at one of the large, square dining tables. We were handed a menu with mouth-watering offerings of cooked breakfasts, and the ability to mix and match however you liked. I decided on cooked sausage, white pudding, fried mushrooms, scrambled eggs and toast.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

It was wonderful – the sausages were some of the best I’ve ever tasted, and I can now attest I’m a fan of white pudding as well as black. Mum asked for avocado and poached egg on toast with bacon, which she said was very good too.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

We were quite sorry to have to leave after our breakfast, and I very much hope to be back one day soon! Our experience at Chapel House was truly marvellous, and I’d recommend it as a fabulous choice for a special holiday, romantic getaway, or to book for a wedding (when it’s possible to take over the whole house).

Rooms at Chapel House start from £150 a night, and more information on booking can be found here.

Note: our stay Chapel House was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.