The Artist Residence, Penzance
Location – where are we?
Welcome to Chapel Street, Penzance! Where the character is full on and the cobbles are steeped in history. Fancy a chat with a local? Head to the Turks Head Inn, where you can order classic Cornish cider, fresh homemade food and get tips from the bar man about what’s going on while you’re in town. Fancy a gossip and an insight into local life? Head to the Admiral Benbow pub, where the locals are as wacky and intriguing as the décor.
Artist Residence hotel on Chapel Street
Somewhere in the middle is the Artist Residence hotel, part of a small group owned by Justin Salisbury. Justin set about took up the mantle of running his family’s hotel, after his mother was injured in an accident. Turns out, Justin had a hidden talent for turning a shabby Brighton hotel into a quirky, toast of the town type boutique bolt hole – a skill which has now transformed two other properties: one in London, and here, in Penzance.
The ‘Artist’ part came about because Justin simply ‘had no money’ to redecorate, so put an ad on Gumtree that read, ‘Call to Artists: decoration in return for board and lodging’. So, that explains the artistic décor and the unique feel to each room. This is the signature style that is attracting visitors from all over the world. And the style suits Penzance down to the ground.
Hotel: Artist Residence Cornwall
Location: Penzance, Cornwall
Phone: 01736 365664
Nearest airport: Newquay
Nearest station: Penzance, 10 minutes walk away
Pool? No, nor spa
Wi-Fi? Yes, throughout the hotel
Perfect for: Families, friends and couples looking for a kitsch and comfortable stay to suit Cornwall’s artsy vibe.
Atmosphere – what’s it like, here?
We struck incredibly lucky on our visit to Penzance, and the sun was out all of the long weekend. So on arriving, driving up the narrow winding streets of the town, the skies were blue, the flags were flying and everything looked very pretty. Many of the town’s houses are painted in lovely colours and often have palm trees planted in the front gardens, so make for a lovely backdrop. The streets of Penzance are quiet (or at least, they are in March!), and peaceful, and the air at the Artist Residence smells strongly of freshly ground coffee, and later on of cocktails.
The staff are all happy and friendly, and bumble along, busily flitting between the reception, the bar and the popular restaurant. I’m not sure any of the staff have set roles, but everyone is happy to stop and chat, or talk/shout over in passing as they charge around with plates piled high with beer can smoked chicken and other delights, to and from the kitchen.
The most enticing parts of the hotel’s communal areas have to be the lounge at the front, which has a log burner and snug chairs in cute corners, (pictured above), perfect for cosying up in, and the garden areas, at the back. There is a small, sun trap of a garden with benches, perfect for downing ciders in the summer, and a bigger garden complete with shack style bar, BBQ, and ping pong and foosball tables. All set up for endless summer nights of fun. There are also regular cinema nights for those times weather won’t allow you to nurse your pint outside.
We left our bags with the hotel while we went out for a day in St Ives, and when we got back were shown to our accommodation, up a set of homely stairs…
What are the rooms like?
We stayed in room number 15. Being so uniquely decorated, there are 15 styles of room in total, that sleep from one and up to six people, so the website is well worth a good browse. The sea view ‘Lookout’ room has just opened at the very top of the hotel that runs the entire length and had a lounge area, too.
It’s hard not to describe the Artist Residence with words such as ‘kooky’ and ‘unique’, because these kind of insinuate something a bit transient and, dare I say, ‘tacky’, which the hotel is exactly the opposite of. The décor is, in fact, bold, with soft floral and linen touches and rough raw wood in equal quantities, paintings and statement furniture at every turn, rounded off with splashes of trend led items here and there – think, Roberts radios and rose gold and copper finishes.
When we enter our bedroom, the radio is tuned into Classic FM and the window has been thrown open, the sunlight shone through beautifully and the drapes wafted gently on the breeze. Peace, at last!
The elegant mini bar waiting to be tucked into
We overlooked the garden, no sign of the seas, here, but it didn’t matter – I don’t remember the last time I felt that calm. I had an urge to sit on the bed and read a long book. The bathroom has a roll top bath accessorised with organic toiletries, plus a box shower decorated with gorgeous tiles that wouldn’t look out of place in a Moroccan souk.
Want to see more? Check out my room tour video of our bedroom at Artist Residence Cornwall
Food – what is there to eat?
After a day sightseeing in Penzance and St Ives, could you possibly be hungry? Well, yes. Although, prepare for feasts of epic proportions! Cornwall’s reputation for good food precedes it, agreed? The beige buffet here is exciting. Pasties, pastry, pies, fish and chips, scones… The list goes on. But, did we still want feeding at the Artist Residence? Yes, of course we did. We had seen the BBQ meaty menu, so honestly, there was no stopping us.
The smokehouse restaurant at the hotel is called The Barn, which is announced in big neon lights on the back wall. I liked the look of the darkened booths in the second room, (pictured above), away from the thoroughfare and till area. It is as popular with locals as it is guests, so make sure you book in. The food is made with local ingredients, as it should be, of course, Cornwall is rich in incredible fresh produce.
The meat and fish is cured, hung and then smoked and charred for that distinctive flavour – they had me at ‘cured’. The Middle Eastern spiced scallops with a lime relish were plump and juicy, and I scored the last portion. I’d say booking an early dinner is advisable, since the menu is so fresh they tend to run out of the most popular dishes. The honey roast beets served with feta and balsamic were equally as tasty.
I had high expectations of our main courses, from the ‘smoker’ portion of the menu. I chose beer can chicken, which came with coleslaw, served on a wooden board (obviously), and my partner chose the home smoked BBQ belly ribs, which were sadly sold out! So, we ended up with two portions the chicken, (pictured above) which was both succulent and perfectly satisfying. A mac ‘n’ cheese side was an ideal accompaniment. All in all, a very clever menu.
Breakfast is served, at Artist Residence Cornwall
The Artist Residence Cornwall is homely, AKA, is beautiful yet has no jarring signs of grandeur. It’s almost like being at home: if your home was really, really cool and came with smoked meats delivered direct to your dining table. It reminded me of some of my favourite East London hangouts, with mates dropping in every now and then for a chat and a beer. There’s art on the walls, great tunes on the radio and good food on the menu. The perfect bolthole for anyone taking a trip to explore Penzance and the surrounding area.
Love Cornwall? Read…
WHAT TO DO IN WEST CORNWALL: FROM PENZANCE TO ST IVES, SENNEN COVE, ST MICHAEL’S MOUNT, AND BEYOND
CHAPEL HOUSE, PENZANCE, CORNWALL [REVIEW + PHOTOS]
CHAPEL HOUSE, PENZANCE, CORNWALL [HOTEL VIDEOS]
ARTIST RESIDENCE, PENZANCE, CORNWALL [ROOM TOUR VIDEO]
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