I’m delighted to have Helen Ochyra back again today with her review of the fabulous Pig Hotel in the beautiful New Forest, which has undoubtedly been one of the UK’s hottest hotel openings in recent years. You can see Helen’s previous review, of the treehouse suites at Chewton Glen, here.
Is there anything more romantic than an English country house hotel? Walks in the grounds, roaring fires and rolltop baths – it’s the perfect recipe for a stressfree honeymoon.
At The Pig
in the New Forest, my husband and I found all this and more. Because The Pig
is not just any old country house hotel, it’s a cool country house hotel, and one that is affordable to boot.
Rooms here start from just £129 but the décor, atmosphere and service are equal to what you might get for three or four times that price. Rooms come in several different categories. Choose a snug double in the main house for the shortest possible post-dinner stumble to bed, or splash out on a comfy luxe in the Stable Yard for quirky original features, four-poster beds and freestanding baths. All rooms have walk-in monsoon showers big enough for two and the best mini bar we’ve ever seen – complete with retro sweets including sherbet dib dabs, fruit salads and fizz wiz.
The helpful check-in staff had hardly shut the door on our comfy luxe room before I was ensconced in the bathtub, separated from the rest of the room by an original partition that would once have kept horse from horse. The rest of the afternoon passed in a haze of fluffy robes and comfy pillows, punctuated by the odd “ooh, look, the cushions have cows on them” and “did you see the size of the shower head?”.
But The Pig
is really a restaurant with rooms and the main attraction here is dinner. As all the best ones do, the evening started with an aperitif, served in the lounge in front of a roaring fire. We ordered some “piggy bits” to go with the Chase vodka martini and local real ale we were recommended, selecting the saddleback crackling – a dish I am still dreaming about (and desperately trying to recreate) now.
I could have stayed in the lounge all evening (possibly all weekend) but moving into the restaurant was far from uncomfortable. Old-school wooden tables with mismatched chairs fill a conservatory-like room, complete with hanging foliage and terracotta plant pots. It is an appropriate setting for the ultra-local menu, much of which comes from The Pig’s kitchen garden – and 95% of which comes from within 25 miles.
We feasted on New Forest pigeon, Hampshire partridge and whole roasted Bath chap, with beets, greens and berries from the garden – eating enthusiastically, telling each other how tasty it all was, scooping forkfuls from each other’s plates and washing it all down with some cracking wines, all selected for us to match the food. Spying the pool table in the private dining room, my husband was all for skipping pudding, but the Old Thumper and chocolate pud sounded far too good to pass up – and indeed it turned out to be. Our waiter suggested a cocktail to go with it, which tasted just like after eight mints – and I’m sure helped me to pot more balls than normal when it came to that game of pool. We were the last to leave for bed – and they probably could have rolled us there.
The next morning we were back for more, with a late breakfast served kitchen-table style. And what a table it was, groaning with cereals, fruits, cakes and preserves, and making my extra order of eggs Benedict seem almost obsolete. Seen in the daylight, the restaurant took on a different air, with the best tables offering views over the terrace to the grounds beyond.
A stroll in those very grounds and a game of Scrabble by the fire later, we were back yet again, keen to cram in one more meal before our inevitable departure. A honey and smoked chilli crispy pork belly salad washed down with a glass of flinty white made the ultimate one-for-the-road and made up our minds about one thing – we will be back, perhaps to celebrate our first anniversary!
In a nutshell:
We loved: Our quirky yet opulent room; the delicious menu of local and home-grown produce; the cosy lounges with their roaring fires; the affordable prices of everything from the room to the wine list.
We weren’t so keen on: It’s a little closer to the train line than we would choose but the noise is barely noticeable.
Ideal if you want: A laidback, affordable honeymoon with truly fantastic food, and access to woodland walks in one of the UK’s loveliest national parks.
Need to know:
The Pig, New Forest, Hampshire, UK
Rates: From £129 a night in a snug room mid-week and £159 at weekends, room only. Comfy luxe rooms are £179 mid-week and £199 at weekends. Two-night minimum stay at weekends and on bank holidays.
Nearest airport: London Heathrow
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