When the first Pig Hotel opened in the gorgeous New Forest area of southern England, few realised that signalled a new type of luxury hotel. By the launch of the second hot – The Pig Near Bath – the fanclub was already numerous. With the summer 2014 opening of The Pig on the Beach success was immediately guaranteed.
Within a couple of months, it was deemed by Sunday Times discerning readers to be the BEST hotel in the whole of the UK. OK, says the gal, a bit of history needed. Robin Hutson, the creative genius behind The Pig brand, had long had his eye on a rambling Manor House Hotel high above Studland Bay, in Dorset.
That building still rambles, but it has been painted and added to. To the right of the photo is a newly-constructed conservatory, an essential feature for all Pigs, where you breakfast, lunch and dine in a conservatory, surrounded by living plants, or, if the weather permits, outside it in the garden. This Pig has 21 rooms in the main house, which still rambles, and there are also two, new but look established, ‘villas’ nearby. The main house also several marvellously panelled rooms with log fires. There is a bar, with the wild array of different coloured glasses that is another Pig penchant, a couple of general relax rooms, and a snug, for hotel guests only.
I loved it from the moment I arrived. Go in through the front door and you are greeted not by the usual row of reception clerks but by neat rows of Wellington boots, Hunter of course, some coloured, some floral, different sizes so one might surely fit. Nearby is a croquet set, if the weather allows. Lora Strizic, who runs the hotel, has thought of everything.
I immediately went for a walk, to explore some of the 25 acres that house sheep, and happy sqwaking chicken, and masses of grass play areas for kids of all ages. There is also, of course, the walled vegetable garden that comes with The Pig DNA. Rows of produce are set in military style, with apple and other fruit trees being trained up the surrounding walls.
The restaurant at this absolutely loveable luxury hotel is so crowded with locals you need to book weeks ahead for a table, especially at lunchtime and even on a dank Monday night in mid-winter. As always I love sitting on a unique chair (they look as if they have been bought at a garage sale), at a plain wood table surrounded by plants and seedlings – some tables have plants right on them. Chef Andy Wright’s menu brilliantly shows where every item comes from – 80 percent are within 25 miles. I had to have one of my favourites, a Pig best-seller, a whole Bath Chap (pig’s cheek), which came simply, on a board, with a side of apple sauce. Add greens and salad from that garden and I was in heaven…