There is always something comforting about coming back to a PIG, any PIG – as long, that is, as it is one that is part of the absolutely brilliant PIG hotel group so cleverly conceived and run by the oh-so-English Robin Hutson and his colleagues at Home Grown Hotels. For an annual get-together with family, this year it was The PIG Near Bath, a modern-luxury conversion of what had been a very traditional English country hotel, built in 1820 and last privately run by the Smedley family.
Now it is a bustling 25-room hotel surrounded by 71 acres of park and farmland. As we drive up, the hen coop to our right bears a Christmas wreath; we swing round to the turning circle in front of the main house and the two signature pig sculptures, life size bronzes both, have fresh green wreaths round their necks. We pass neat piles of logs, ready for the dozen or so welcoming fires burning here and there in the main floor of the house. By the front door are lines of Wellington boots, any size, for you to borrow: finally, in the main hall, we are greeted by a tailor’s mannequin, adorned for the season (see the photo at the top).
This is local luxury, for today. My room is upstairs, number 14. I have a big bed with four half-posts, and a Roberts radio. There is a Nespresso, and a kettle for making Dorset Tea, with fresh milk. The glass-fronted minibar has Lovely handcrafted lemonade, Bon Bon’s American hard gums, from Yorkshire, and Vineyard Bakery fudge. It has a clawleg freesstanding tub right in the bedroom: the bathroom has a walk-in shower with masses of instant hot water. Bramley toiletries are complemented by Jane Maddern Soaps, from Somerset.
Food is a delight at any PIG. Tonight as always, the indoors kitchen-like dining room, complete with Welsh dresser, and the adjacent conservatory room, are full. The menu is presented by Katie Liddle, a Nutcracker-ballet heroine with waist-length long plaits that go fetchingly well with the standard uniform of pink shirt, blue jeans and blue and white Converse shoes. I have a rocket side-salad with 1833 cheese to start, and go on to a round of pork belly served on an antique pink-on-white floral plate. Dinner is excellent but do not, under any circumstances, miss breakfast at this new-style luxury hotel. The buffet, at £10, is incredible value, with items, including gluten-free, labelled on slates, and eggs and timers to boil for yourself. Add £5 for a full English, or, healthy-living, poached eggs and avocado on baguette. Now if only I could create more time and stay here longer. Anyone have any ideas? SEE THE BREAKFAST VIDEO BELOW