There’s something so invigorating about being by the sea in winter: the crashing waves, the empty beaches, the vast skies, the beautifully crisp light… Nothing beats it for blasting away any lingering post-Christmas cobwebs, and so the other weekend Chris and I hopped in the car and journeyed down to the western tip of Cornwall for a sneaky coastal getaway.
Our base was Artist Residence Cornwall, a stylish and eclectic hotel in the heart of Penzance. It’s perfect for a relaxing break, with friendly staff, a lounge-bar filled with sink-into-comfy armchairs, and the kind of easygoing vibe that instantly lulls you into holiday mode. And it’s great-value, with rates starting at well under £100 a night in low season.
Many of the rooms feature bespoke murals created by local artists, but there’s also a cluster of ‘Comfy Luxe’ and ‘Super Comfy Luxe’ rooms which are a little more understated in style. We’d opted for one of the latter, and we loved it – a cosy, cabin-like space lined in wood, with a decadent zinc tub and a huge walk-in shower in the bathroom. It was filled with little treats – caramel bars, a Roberts radio, organic Bramley toiletries – as well as quirky decorative touches such as crates for bedside tables and a light shade made from an old fishing basket.
I was lucky enough to get a peek at a few of the other rooms, too, along with the three-bedroom rental cottage available next door. Every one was different, though all carried the same beautiful mix of vintage pieces and upcycled furniture as ours. I could have happily stayed in any of them.
After indulging in a post-journey cuppa from our in-room coffee machine, we headed out to explore. We wandered along the seafront and watched a storm roll in, peeked through the gates of the Art Deco Jubilee Pool (locked up for winter and eerily beautiful), and spotted a magnificent rainbow arching over St Michael’s Mount on the other side of the bay.
Back at the hotel, we warmed our toes by the wood-burner while slowly working our way through the cocktail menu (my top tip is the ‘Cornish Bramble’ – a mix of gin, blackberry liquer and cranberry juice). Then it was time for a laid-back dinner in ‘The Cornish Barn’ restaurant, which specialises in cured meat and seafood, much of it smoked on site. We tucked into pulled pork with oak-smoked cheddar and pickled apple, juicy prawns with lemon and garlic, and deliciously smokey chargrilled steaks – yum!
Full but happy, we waddled back to our room, where I couldn’t resist taking to the tub for a post-meal soak. Meanwhile, Chris had fun playing around with the TV, set on a swiveling arm so that you can watch it from the bed or armchair.
Following a blissful night’s sleep, we awoke to blue skies and a delicious breakfast brimming with local produce. I was delighted to see some more unusual options alongside the standard Full Cornish and smoked salmon, and merrily tucked into scrambled eggs with blue cheese and spinach, served on crusty sour-dough toast.
All too soon it was time to hit the road and head back to Bristol. Luckily we don’t have long to wait for another dose of sea air, as we’re planning a mini-moon in Cornwall after our wedding in May. I’m already counting down the days…
Book a stay at Artist Residence Cornwall (and its sister hotels in London and Brighton) via i-escape.
Most photography by Abi Dare; images 7, 8, 15, 18 and 19 via Artist Residence Cornwall