I’ve said it before that luxury comes in so many different forms and the last few years I’ve found myself gravitating more and more to what can only be described as ‘comfy luxury.’ A style that is truly exemplified by my beloved Soho Farmhouse – homely interiors, friendly service, good food and zero pretentions.
And it was this love for all things cosy and comfy that bought The Pig group of hotels to my attention – a group of five hotels (though there are more in the making) around the English countryside that espouse the casual chic luxury style that I’ve fallen in love with. As well as boutique hotels – this litter of Pigs could also be described as restaurants with rooms as they are small and perfectly formed around a glorious local food concept.
Lauren and I had been saying for ages that we wanted to do a trip together and with similar tastes in hotels, we both had staying at one of the Pigs on our UK hotel bucket list. As is often the case with these small and very popular hotels, availability is limited and booking is required months in advance. The Pig on the Beach had particularly caught our eyes because of the unique selection of rooms but of course there was no chance of getting in any time soon… But then serendipity called and a room became available in the Dorset hotel, not only that, it was the exact room that we had our eyes on! More on that later…
Originally a 16th Century Manor house, the honied hues of The Pig on The Beach are incredibly welcoming. This unique and individual historical home doesn’t fit any cookie cutter mould it has a charm all of its own.
Fittingly, it looks kind of like a giant sandcastle but it was actually originally the holiday home belonging to the aristocratic Bankes family.
As the name says it’s located right on the beach, Studland to be exact…with glorious views of the coast line. You can see Old Harrys Rocks and the Isle of Wight in the distance.
Named The Bothy, I think you can see why we were so keen to book this particular room which is the only one of it’s kind at The Pig on the Beach. Lauren and I saw this cute little thatched cottage for two on the website and immediately knew it was perfect for us.
There’s a private gate so you have this whole area to yourself and it’s right next to the hotel’s gorgeous kitchen garden.
And weather didn’t quite permit during our stay but I could just imagine siting out on the these wooden benches and enjoying a steaming mug of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine before dinner.
Admittedly The Bothy isn’t quite so large on the inside (20 metres in diameter) as the Cathedral style roof is a little deceptive but the interior designer has made the best use of space possible in this little round room. Speaking of which the deisgner is Judy Hutson, wife of Robin Hutson, the brains behind the Pig group and sister hotel Lime Wood.
I assume the Bothy is part of the original house, perhaps once accommodation for farm hands or workers but now a beautifully modern yet cosy shabby chic design.
Stones floors, wooden walls, a four poster bed and the plumpest of cushions all add to the cosy vibes of our little thatched cottage.
We also loved the retro details, such the Roberts radio, old-fashioned phone and quirky reading materials.
The hotel even has it’s own wine and – Pig Hut label has been developed with Rhône winemaker, Michael Chapoutier and is available in three blends: a red, white and rosé. There’s no room service here but there a mini bar filled with artisan snacks.
Once again making good use of the small circular space, the bathroom encompasses a gorgeous roll top bath, double sinks and a huge double shower. There’s plenty of lovely amenities and products by Bamford, there’s even a fire so you can make your bath time even more special. A word of warning if you’re going with a friend rather than your other half – the bathroom is rather open plan!
Though the Bothy is one-of-a-kind there’s also a bigger Dovecote room at the hotel. The Lookout has a bedroom on the ground floor and a bathroom upstairs with views out towards that coastline.
Another unique option is staying in Harry’s Hut or the Pig Hut, two very private shepherds huts. One’s the bedroom with double bed and the other is the bathroom with a freestanding bath and a deck connecting the two. It’s an intimate space so rather small but I can imagine it being super romantic! There’s 23 rooms total and if you don’t go for one of these options, you can stay in the manor house with rooms that vary in size and cost – everything from ‘Cheap and Cheerful’ to ‘Generous Rooms’ which are all great value for money.
It took us just over two hours from L0ndon Waterloo to Wareham station and with huge anticipation for our girls trip our first stop was the hotel bar.
Resembling your favourite local pub, the bar is a place to relax on a over-stuffed sofa, order up a beverage (or three) and catch up with your friends. To me there’s what comfy luxury is all about – it’s the familiar but better! Your local pub but with a fantastic wine list, artisan snacks (fancy pork scratchings, anyone?) and seasonal cocktails.
It’s the quintessentially British version of hygge, there’s roaring fires everywhere and a menu of comfort food that will take you back to your childhood – we ordered the fancy fish fingers with homemade ketchup to snack on at least four times while we were there.
As well as the bar, there’s a lounge and snug area – so cosy and familiar it could almost be your parents living room. More comfy sofas, snuggly rugs and roaring fires – this may not be your uber luxe hotel but what stood out to us was the attention to detail, water stations everywhere, umbrellas and wellington boots should you needs them. It’s the little things that are so important in making you feel at home.
In terms of service – it totally reflected the surroundings, friendly and unpretentious yet totally slick and on point. Staff dressed in jeans and checked shirts reflected the lack of stuffiness but were just as attentive as a silver service waiter.
There’s plenty of board games to borrow too and Lauren and I had friendly yet competitive games of Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. With wine. And delicious fish cakes from the ‘fishy bits’ menu.
The Pig on The Beach is a small hotel and there’s only three public rooms in the manor house, the third being the restaurant. On our first night in the hotel we left our cameras in the room (a hard task for two bloggers on holiday but we knew the dimly lit room would not lend itself to good photography anyway.)
The next day we returned for breakfast and had the chance to admire the gorgeous Conservatory Restaurant, which is the signature style at the Pig hotels. Pretty tiles, mismatched chairs and pot plants add to the charm of the restaurant which is an upmarket version of a greenhouse or garden shed.
Breakfast can be made to order or can be selected from the farm table. Honestly, this is my favourite kind of breakfast, a small selection of items, beautifully prepared, home made, fresh and local. Choose from luxury granola, home made museli, fruit compotes, granola bars and thick cut slices of ham.
Toast your own sourdough and boil your own eggs – just the way that you like them.
The Pig on the Beach also truly shines at lunch and dinner – the restaurant really is the jewel in the crown of this hotel. The 25 mile menu has been created by Chef James Golding and Head Chef Andy Wright and is made up of classic British dishes with clean fresh flavours. If a fruit, herb or vegetable can’t be grown in the kitchen garden it’s sourced locally.
For lunch we pigged out on a selection of sharing nibbles; trout tartare, cured meats, burrata and those fish fingers that we fell in love with! For dinner were sampled fantastic fish such as hake and mussels sourced from Cornwall and delicious chicken and steak dishes. Oh and try the thrice cooked chips…and the chocolate genache…
As well as the dining room there are two thatched Roundhouses on the grounds, which can be hired for private events. One is a private dining room and the other a cosy snug, truly a great place for a celebration and some family style dining.
Once you’ve eaten your fill you may want to take a walk around the hotel’s gorgeous grounds…picturesque Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove are nearby. FYI if coastal walks aren’t really your thing there’s not a huge amount to do around the hotel, it’s a small hotel with few other local restaurants and activities – we agreed two nights at the hotel was the right amount.
We said hi to the sheep and tried to visit the pigs but I think they were asleep in their own pig hut!
You can take the coastal path down to the beach – it takes no more than five minutes and you can admire historical Studland Bay. A four mile stretch of beach and a nature reserve – it was also the inspiration for Toytown in Enid Blyton’s Noddy books.
There’s not a ‘proper’ spa but deep in the fields are two more adorable shepherd’s tins.
Once again inside is garden shed vibes but elevated to luxury with most divine treatments from skin care brand, Oskia. I had a facial whilst Lauren loved her massage. It was a fabulously unique way of having a spa but I do think they’re missing a trick by not having cliff top hot tubs like at The Scarlet Hotel.
Lauren and I left feeling relaxed, well fed and more than a little bit in love with The Pig on Beach. Our fantastic weekend has left me keen to try more of the Pig Hotels and experience more of the brand’s signature ‘comfy luxury.’
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The Pig on the Beach