Arrive at The Pig, in England’s New Forest, and you know this is deliberately an English country house hotel ‘turned upside down’. You drive through the New Forest, not a building in sight but thousands of trees and the occasional wild pony.
Suddenly you see a giant sign, a three-dimensional near-lifesize golden pig set high on a light avocado-coloured board. You turn up a 300-metre drive, winding through the nine acres of garden, with mature trees. The carpark’s wall is a stack of logs, to burn. You see a two-storey house, 1634 originally. In front is a lifesize bronze, of a pig of course.
Inside, through the front door, it is bare unpolished wood floors, oak planks that could be recycled rail sleepers, like most of the tables. There are a few scruffy oriental rugs, and metal watering cans on a sideboard, and bright pink umbrellas. Fifteen metres ahead, behind a small counter, a charming young Frenchman in the pale pink shirt that is uniform, with black trousers and Converse trainers, welcomes me.
The ‘look’, like the interior design and the DNA of this ‘shabby chic’, has been put together by Robin Hutson and his wife Judy, with business partners marketer David Elton and financier Jim Ratcliffe.