Sitting in the garden, drinking our coffees with the sun beaming on to our faces…we could almost be back in Italy. But we’re not…we’re in the New Forest for the weekend experiencing a perfect slice of British country life. And The Pig Hotel in Brockenhurst is the ideal way to do it… you’re sort of in a luxury hotel, you’re sort of on the farm and you sort of feel like you’re at home. Somehow the team at The Pig have managed to create the perfect blend and it’s something Lauren and I named ‘comfy luxury’ when we stayed at sister hotel, The Pig of the Beach in Studland in Dorset.
Let me explain a bit more… The Pig in Brockenhurst in the New Forest was the first of five Pig hotels located around the South of England. It’s clear how popular this brand has become as there are three more Pigs in the making. I booked our stayed here back in October, a good seven months before as it is so hard to find weekend availability.
The country house is the heart of the hotel and the location of all the public areas.
With paisley fabrics, eclectic furnishings, mismatched rugs, the lounge area could easily be the living room of a farm-house yet it still has that feeling of being perfectly put together. Either way you wouldn’t feel shy of kicking back in that over stuffed sofa and even falling asleep after lunch. I’m aware the rustic feel isn’t for everyone and some may look at these pictures and think that’s not luxury, but actually it’s a different type of luxury and The Pig reminds me of my favourite UK hotel, Soho Farmhouse.
A second lounge area leads into a light and bright conservatory and summer terrace – the perfect place to enjoy your rosé and flat breads from the wood-fired oven.
Otherwise there’s the bar which feels like your favourite local pub, the perfect place for cosy autumn nights, for an aperitif before dinner or to stop in for the night with friends. So often nowadays luxury travel is about a search for authenticity and a search for real experiences … this doesn’t have to be trekking in the mountains or dune bashing, it really be discovering what normal life is like for English country dwellers.
But the true heart of the hotel is the restaurant – the hotel is also referred to a restaurant with rooms.
Going back to that feeling of the familiar… the restaurant feels a little bit like dad’s greenhouse… there’s absolutely zero pretension here, just good food. With quirky tiles, pots plants and airy windows, it may not be what you typically think of luxury but that’s what cosy luxury is…that feeling of being at home.
The USP is everything is as local as possible, much of the produce is grown in the hotel’s walled garden and the menu changes depending on what the forager brings in that morning. In fact, Chef James Golding;s right hand men are the forager and kitchen gardener…
Breakfast is a lovely little farm table with homemade granola, local ham and cheese…
And you can toast your own bread in retro Dualit toasters or boil your own eggs just the way you like them.
Or you can order off the menu, and go whole hog with a Full Pig Out…
Or a little lighter with avocado on toast.
The terrace just outside the restaurant is the perfect sun spot to have another coffee…
Or to stay hello to this little guy!
Or stop for a swing!
We were so lucky with the weather that I was able to wear one of my favourite summer dresses along with this gorgeous light knit coral cardigan, kindly gifted to me by N. Peal.
The main menu is inspired the forest and the coast and the food is the kind of thing you might make yourself at home (only much better in my case!)
Hearty potato soup for Mr S and smoked salmon for me and of course plenty of that delicious sourdough slathered in local butter. You won’t find formality among the staff either, service is super-friendly and they are dressed for comfort in jeans and Converse.
Now there’s the face of a man about to tuck into a hearty fish pie…
As usual I went for the fish option too, and my hake came straight from the Solent…served with a side of tomato and chorizo.
The ‘piggy’ fours and a coffee are an unmissable way to end the meal…and you can’t say no to the chocolate mousse either.
Dinner was delicious too and saw us sampling homemade Scotch eggs from the ‘Piggy bits’ section, some gorgeous stuffed pasta and whitebait for starters.
And Mr S was overjoyed by his gigantic tomahawk pork chop for main course, just as I was by trout and asparagus.
And the best thing is (if you’re an avid foodie like me) you can see where all the ingredients come from and take a walk around the kitchen garden…an activity very much encouraged by the staff.
Considering the size of the hotel, this is a seriously big kitchen garden, with a gorgeous greenhouse too…they basically grow everything that you can think of from courgettes to curly kale. Plus there’s chickens that lay the egg for breakfast, horses, sheep and of course the eponymous pigs!
There’s no spa at the hotel but there are two secluded huts located around the kitchen garden where treatments take place, I can’t imagine anything more peaceful!
As well as all of this, there’s the smoke house, fruit cages and a wild flower meadow – it’s definitely a piece of the good life.
The majority of rooms are located in the manor house and they vary in size from ‘snug’ to ‘comfy luxe’ whilst the rooms in the stable yard by the terrace are a bit bigger.
Or if you want to go for something more private, the hotel now has a selection of lodges and cabins located slightly off the main house. I booked something rather special and romantic for Mr S and I… take a walk across the grounds and you’ll the Forest Cabin nestled among the trees.
Now admittedly when we walked into the room, Mr S said…it’s like a garden shed. Yes…the Forest Cabin is kind of cross between the log cabins that you get at Soho Farmhouse and well…yes a garden shed. But this is a far cry from glamping… with high thread count sheets, stylish retro fittings such as a Roberts radio and dial phone as well as more modern flat screen TV… there’s nothing you could want for. Plus we were greeted with a bottle of English sparkling wine and a fridge / larder absolutely packed with snacks and local treats.
And a huge bottle of bubbles for soaking in that tub.
A gorgeous bathroom with a monsoon shower completes this perfect little set up.
If you’re staying at The Pig, I highly recommend a trip around fifteen minutes down the road to sister property, Lime Wood. Mr S and I stayed there a few years ago and it’s one of our favourite hotels. The Pig isn’t for everyone and if you’re not a fan of the rustic, cosy aesthetic then you may prefer the classic elegance of Lime Wood. Personally I love both as I think they are both doing what they’re doing well.
If you visit or stay at Lime Wood, you should definitely have a walk around their beautiful gardens or peep into the greenhouse. Their Herb House spa is renowned as one of the best in UK and the facilities are available for guests of The Pig.
Hartnett Holder & Co is the fabulous restaurant by Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder and the food served has a distinctive Italian influence.
Fresh asparagus and homemade pasta were are wonderful starters (do make sure you have room for the pasta, it’s absolutely excellent) and a whole salt-baked bream was our main course. If you’re staying at The Pig I’d definitely recommend heading to Lime Wood for at least one of your meals as change of scene.
The Pig Hotels have a clever way of getting into your heart, from the relaxed and comfy interior to the friendly and laid back attitude of the staff. It didn’t take long for Mr S to change his mind about staying in a ‘garden shed’ and to fall in love with this gorgeous property himself.