Well, this was a first. The gal has stayed in tents, on boats but never in a gardener’s shed, but this is what happened at The Pig Near Bath, many modern luxury travellers’ favourite leisure hotel in the English countryside. See the shed, above, which is set in a working vegetable garden, on the left. But sheds are deceptive. Inside, the single-storey construction has been elevated to simple-chic, as the video below shows. As always with The Pig hotels, there is a great bed and a great shower, both elements that the creative boss of the five-hotel brand, Robin Hutson, are essential wherever he personally stays.
There is a Roberts radio, and lots of books on looking after pigs and other country pursuits. A cupboard opens up to reveal the Nespresso machine, and kettle, two sizes of cups, and a glass-fronted minibar that has fresh milk. Oh this is REAL luxury; the industry in general should take note. There is also a seriously powerful torch, essential for finding the way from, and back to, this hideaway as you have to navigate through the garden to get to the main building, past the glass-walled conservatory that reveals a very attractive, and very full, dining room inside. Yes, it seems necessary to book for lunch and dinner, every day of the week.
We met up for pre-dinner drinks in one of the many sitting rooms of the main buildling, a house that goes back to the early 19th century. We sat in genuine old sofas, decades old and much more authentic than the retro designer-seating that imitates age, and over a bottle of bubbly we all nibbled on a tray of Piggy Bits, strips of noisy crackling and apple sauce and things like that. Once in the restaurant, sitting at unvarnished tables with pots of herbs instead of flowers, the menu is nearly all sourced within 25 miles. I started with chargrilled tenderstem broccoli accompanied by a crispy hen’s egg, chilli and tarragon dressing, went on to James Golding’s home-smoked organic salmon, with Gooney’s Midford cider dressing.
The back of the simple-print A4 menu sheet is a map showing provenance – breads, for instance, come from Bertinet in Bath, six miles away. At breakfast, another delightful meal, provenance is written in white chalk on small slates. I love breakfast at this new-look-luxury hotel. There is the standard The Pig breakfast table (no ‘buffet’, here) where for a set £10 you get a magnificent choice of yoghurts, fruits, cold cuts, and you can boil your own eggs, which come from the 25-room hotel’s 43 Cotswold Legbar, Speckledy and White Star hens running freely in their area of the 71 acre estate, which is also home to a herd of deer. And pigs. Not surprisingly, when they left my friends said ‘when are we coming back?’ NOW SEE THE VILLA-SHED