If you’re on the hunt for hotel nirvana, we can safely say we’ve found it – you need look no further than The Pig near Bath
(or Studland or Brockenhurst for that matter).
A small chain of ‘restaurants with rooms” (clever that, on a quiet Autumn Monday the restaurant was heaving at both lunch and dinner), the Pig combines spectacular locations with the kind of cool but comfortable interiors that make you want to rush home and redesign instantly.
The spectacularly pretty Hunscrete House is set amidst rolling parkland studded with its own herd of galloping deer and surrounded by the Mendips. As rural idylls go, this one is hard to surpass.
There are rows of bright coloured Hunters, maps at reception and advice about the best walks to go on, including one that ends conveniently in a pub. But once here, it’s pretty hard to tear yourself away.
The hotel seems to have been designed with ultimate hibernation in mind – rows of Penguin paperbacks in the library, a piano next to a roaring fire in the hall (this in late September), the kind of wonderfully old fashioned, well stocked bar that makes you want to grab a chess board and work your way through the single malts (even for a non chess playing, whisky shirker like myself).
As with all the Pigs in the chain, much of the food here is sourced from the gargantuan kitchen garden. It’s worth taking a stroll just to check out the immaculate planting, feverishly neat rows of beets and kale and cabbages, the humble vegetable transcended into a work of art.
The Pig favours simple, beautifully cooked food with just a few attention grabbing ingredients. At lunchtime we shared a trio of starters – a gorgeous cauliflower risotto, a beetroot, rocket and kale salad and grilled mackerel.
For supper we with both chose Ruby Red steaks with béarnaise and triple cooked chips – aged for 35 days, these were tender, melting, basically perfect.
The Pig hotels have been set up by Robin Hutson, the man behind the Hotel du Vin chain which was the
place to stay in the 90s. There are similar principles at work here – the vibe is laid back and discreet, the focus is on stylish comfort which seemed to be working just as well for a couple of hipster honeymooners as it did for the various sextogenerians enjoying a late and lazy Tuesday breakfast just because they can.
The beds are fabulously comfortable as you’d expect, and the mini bar is stocked with fresh milk, tea, champagne, Nespresso capsules, bars of high end chocolate and a cute little pack of chocolate pigs. Views from the bedrooms are pretty epic. Lying back against the fluffed up pillows, mug of mint tea in hand, magazine snitched from the drawing room and the vision of spindly legged Bambis racing after their mothers, is as good as it gets. Trust us, this place is heaven.