Let’em choose what THEY want, is Girlahead’s assessment of the always-enjoyable PIG brand. The template is simple. CEO Robin Hutson finds an old house or something, converts it to the kind of cheap-chic that others, as at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles or Babington House, in England’s Somerset countryside, did as once-offs. But Hutson keeps on adding new pigs – Girlahead is going to yet another one this very week, watch this space.
THE PIG ON THE BEACH, on England’s South Coast, is high above Studland Bay, with sandy beaches and rows of old-fashioned beach houses. A stone two-floor manor house was built here in 1825. It later became The Manor House Hotel. Now owned by the National Trust, it re-opened as the 23-key Pig in 2014. Choose your room. In the main house. In a terrace of one-floor villas opening directly off semi-private gardens (these rooms have, arguably, the best bathrooms). Choose a very-detached Shepherd’s hut, or one of two thatched villas in the garden.
Choose The Bothy and you can only reach it via the very-productive walled garden. Girlahead admired rows of neatly-labelled green veg before reached the thatched roundel that would be home, overnight. Inside – see the video below – choose a rare sybaritic sensation, Bramley-infused deep soak, one metre from a real log fire. Then perhaps choose a hike, 20 minutes down to the sea and back. At dinner, what a choice…
The menu is ’25 miles’, showing suppliers. Want Dorset oysters? They have come seven miles. Let’s consider Girlahead’s dinner. Piggy bits to snack, from Phil Samways, four miles (he also supplied the slow-cooked pork leg entrée/main, which came with cavolo nero from that walled garden). A starter of tobacco onions displayed not so much provenance as history: these thin slivers of quick-fried breaded onion strips are so called because they look like torn ‘baccy leaves.
At the splendid brand-standard Breakfast Table (no such mundane word as ‘buffet’ here) there is non-stop choice. Coconut-milk or Dorset-milk yoghurt, from big china bowls that evoke history of another century, as do the two butter covers, shown above. Oh, and by the way, want real butter or vegan (=old-fashioned margarine, oils+)? Choose your bread type, and toast it in a pink, or black, toaster, both SMEG. Choose your egg colour, brown, white or blue-shelled, and boil it timed for three, four or five minutes.
And when you finally eat, your plate is decades old, recycled china, akin to the bone-handled blunt-bladed knives. Choice at every stage, with hints of the past. GIRLAHEAD LOVES IT – final choice, whether to book again? The answer is a resounding YES.