Luxury hotelier Robin Hutson, who progressed from running Chewton Glen Hampshire to starting the Hôtel du Vin group and, now, Lime Wood Group (owner of the brilliant PIGS hotels), said only this week that “I prefer to grab a plate of breakfast not piled high with food, then might go up for more, and more again. It’s all down to the individual and their eating preference. Guests must eat what they want however they want to eat it.” The gal headed for yet another of his friendly-luxury properties, The PIG in the Wall, Southampton, to see if he means it. Look at the result, above and left.
Yes, as always with a PIG, there are local products, and lots of healthy things and boil-your-own eggs with timers that give you four-, five- and six-minute options. There is a big loaf of still-warm brown sourdough to slice, and toast (and, for health-sceptics, already-sliced white bread in an old-fashioned Hovis tin). As always, there are the PIG croissants, bought in company-wide frozen and cooked to Parisian perfection. But, I must admit, this pig is unique. The others in the family are converted English country house hotels. This one is a converted city-centre public house, the Latimer, literally built into the mediaeval walls of what, to my surprise, is a fascinating city.
You are within minutes’ walk of the quay, and cruise terminals, and the main rail station to London, and old Tudor houses and narrow centuries-old lanes as well as today’s city centre, with a big John Lewis store. No wonder this is a relaxing base for pre-cruise and weekend tourism as well as corporate. As always, designer Judy Hutson has done her magic. Room seven, one of 12, is all-over pale avocado, including the posts of the really comfortable bed. Flooring is old rail sleepers, apart from one end, multi-coloured linoleum tiles around the freestanding bathtub (I pampered myself with a Bramley grapefruit bubble bath).
And, as with all the PIGS, food is memorable. Since there is no outside vegetable garden here, plants are brought in: a strawberry plant in a terracotta flowerpot adorned my wood table in the bar. At dinner I sat next to a blazing big-log fire, looking across at dozens of named fledgling plants on one shelf of a Welsh dresser, with trays of eggs stored beneath, and logs neatly stacked below. I finished my supper – no ‘dinner’ in this relaxed hotel – with the most eulogistic lemon posset imaginable, with a pig-shaped shortbread biscuit, and a mound of no-sugar stewed blackcurrants. I could have had a glass of local Hambledon Hampshire sparking, or Bollinger, but I stuck with the luxury hotel group’s own-label The Pig Hut Côtes du Rhone M. Chapoutier 2014. On my way back up 17 stairs – more rail sleepers – to room seven, to bed, I noticed framed front pages of The Daily Telegraph, 23 November 1961, ‘Assassination of President Kennedy’, and 9 August 1974, ‘Resignation of President Nixon’. See what I mean about this being yet another memorable PIG? NOW SEE A BREAKFAST VIDEO, BELOW