Staycation: The Old Chapel Loft
Helena Lang enjoyed sofa picnics and lofty views at this gorgeous self-catering apartment in the cathedral city of Truro.
The couple who own this marvellous property have done an amazing job. Originally from Hertfordshire, they moved to the South West to be nearer to family, and spotted the renovation of the lovely Methodist St George’s Hall when they visited Truro. They snapped up one of the apartments and were regular hard-hat visitors, choosing which of the original features to keep and which to lose in order to create an amazing space that’s the ultimate in tradition-with-a-twist. Climbing up some stairs, you come to a pretty, narrow lobby complete with stained- glass windows.
A door leads you into a spacious private apartment dedicated to chilling out on squishy leather sofas and dining at the smart modern wood table. In the state-of-the-art kitchen, nothing any decent cook could want is missing from the sleek cupboards and drawers. Also on this floor are a super-smart bathroom and bedroom, while the mezzanine level features another bedroom with an awesome view of the giant arched stained-glass windows and trains rumbling over the viaduct beyond.
Situated just a five-minute walk from the station, it was a great choice for us as we’d travelled down on a comfortable GWR train from Paddington. The apartment is an easy stroll from the city centre, where you can explore the small, perfectly formed Victorian cathedral and dip in and out of some excellent places for good food and drink. Dinner at Hooked! is a must. Serving the freshest fish, beautifully cooked in a fun, casual atmosphere, it’s a honeypot for locals and tourists alike. The plate of mussels I started with, cooked the Cornish way with leeks, bacon and cream, was a triumph, as was my main course – sole in a rich, buttery sauce with razor clams and spinach.
If you have a car with you, Truro is a perfect base for exploring all this dramatic county has to offer. You can be at the north or south coast in under an hour, so can pick your beach spot according to the weather. Trips to The Lost Gardens Of Heligan and the Eden Project are also easy to organise. We visited Tregothnan, the only tea-producing estate in the UK. A few miles from the city, it has the most gorgeous gardens, and you can organise a ticket for a private tour or try one of its excellent masterclasses. Within the garden are many rare and special tree and shrub specimens, including the previously presumed extinct Wollemi tree, and it’s wonderful to see the tea plantations in all their glory. The tea itself is available to buy, and the company supplies some of the UK’s leading restaurants and hotels.
Back at the Old Chapel Loft, we indulged in an indoor picnic – it had been a wet and drizzly day and it was good to hunker down and watch some telly with a glass or two of Cornish cider. Our delivery from the excellent Cornish Food Box Company was laden with locally produced treats including a proper farmhouse loaf, slivers of delicious cured meats, slabs of local cheeses and pots of piquant chutneys. The Old Chapel Loft is just one of a gorgeous selection of the prettiest homes in the South West available to rent from Toad Hall Cottages, a family-owned West Country firm that does everything it can to make their visitors’ trip a treat. Sipping my cider, I browsed its other properties, plotting my next escape – to Devon, I think, this time...
How to book
The Old Chapel Loft sleeps four, and a seven-night stay costs from £497. To book, visit toadhallcottages.co.uk. Helena travelled to Truro with Great Western Railway from London Paddington. Advance fares cost from £15 each way. For best value, book at gwr.com or download the GWR app.