Not travelling for six months was something I never envisioned at the beginning of 2020. I don’t think any of us thought this would be the world that we were living in when we celebrated this new decade back in January. When I first hear about Coronavirus, travel was the last thing on my mind with missing family and friends at the forefront and staying home for our own safety taking priority. And like many people as time has gone on and things have reopened, it was holidays in my own country that seemed more appealing than foreign travel.
Of course the next obstacle was finding somewhere, the UK was basically all booked for summer, there was not one hotel room, holiday cottage or B&B left with availability. But you can imagine my excitement when I managed to book a room with one of my favourite hotel brands… even though it meant waiting several months for the trip and missing summer entirely. But I was excited for an autumnal trip and seeing this beautiful place as the leaves start to change.
Having stayed at different branches of The Pig Hotel before (Brockenhurst and Studland), I was excited to see a new property open up – The Pig at Bridge Place in the Garden of England, Kent. Not only was this hotel about an hour and a half drive away, it also has the most amazing family-friendly rooms. And I was super lucky to book their biggest room – Lodge 1 – to be able to say for Mr S’s birthday!
The Pig Hotels are the brain-child of experienced hotelier Robin Hutson, while his wife Judy was responsible for much of the interior design. Starting with the original in Brockenhurst, there are now seven Pigs in the litter so to speak, all in gorgeous locations around the countryside and perfectly placed for sourcing the best ingredients for the food served at the restaurants.
I couldn’t have been more excited to arrive at this beautiful country pile, a UK staycation was just what I was yearning for. The house itself is a historic Grade II listed building which actually has a surprising past, having been a rock ‘n roll venue in the sixties and even playing host to the likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd!
Lodge 1 and 2 are located around a three minute walk from the main house and even have their own car park – perfect for unloading a car full of baby things! We were in Lodge 1 which is the slightly bigger of the two lodges but a large group could book both as they are adjoining one another. You can really tell you’re in the countryside as opposite the lodges is a field full of sheep!
Inside our two-storey home was even bigger and better than I’d expected. Downstairs we had a spacious lounge area with super comfy sofas, a fireplace and dining area. Fresh bread, eggs and cheese were waiting for us on arrival.
We also had a fully stocked kitchen area with a huge Smeg fridge including the hotel’s own Pig Hut wine, an oven, and all the cutlery, crockery and utensils we required should we want to cook ourselves.
I absolutely loved the rustic farmhouse chic look of the interior with the exposed brick work, distressed wood flooring and countryside colours. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know of my love for Soho Farmhouse, The Pig hotels have very similar vibes but are much smaller properties.
Another touch – a sign of the times – is the personal safety kit found in each room containing a mask, hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes.
Upstairs the master bedroom with four poster bed is incredibly spacious but without compromising on the cosy vibes of the lodge.
I loved the retro touches such as the Roberts radio and vintage dial phone.
Of course, Oscar was not forgotten as a travel cot was placed in the room for him. He sleeps better in his own room at home now so this was moved into the other room.
A beautiful brass-tapped roll top bath is in the room itself.
With a super powerful shower in the bathroom. Made in the the British countryside, Bramley products are the perfect amenities for this bucolic bolthole and we were even given a baby version for Oscar.
Across the landing is a second twin room, which as you can see would suit adults just as well as children. Though ideal for a family this is also the perfect party pad for four adults. FYI I was a little worried about having a room with stairs and no stair gate but actually you can easily shut the room doors to keep him contained.
Outside we had a lovely little terrace / garden area, perfect for cups of coffee in the morning!
Though this is the kind of hotel room that you never want to leave, the hotel’s restaurant is no small temptation. And just like the properties, The Pig at Bridge Place serves food that is just to die for.
The Pig brands itself as ‘a restaurant with rooms’ implying that the restaurant truly is the heart of the hotel. A small boutique hotel, honestly there isn’t much to do here other than eat and drink and personally I don’t have a problem with that!
The restaurant itself is beautiful with wooden interiors, open kitchen, vintage crockery and mismatched tiles it resembles a country kitchen and it’s not difficult to feel at home straight away. In fact that’s a real USP of The Pig, its really a home away from home which is reflected in the friendly and personal service.
You can also choose to dine in the heated tented area with views of the garden.
The Pig at Bridge Place operates the hotel’s signature ’25 mile menu’ meaning all the food is sourced locally, much of it in the hotel’s own kitchen garden. Ingredients are as fresh and authentic as can be and reflect the excellent produce that can be found in Kent. Local fish, meat and beer of the highest standard and of course Kent is well known for its vineyards and English wines. We had a bottle of local wine both nights at dinner.
The day starts the best possible way with breakfast. Once famed for it’s farm table buffet, The Pig is now following Covid guidelines and has stopped guests going to the buffet. But that doesn’t mean the buffet can’t come to you. Guests can choose a selection of home made pastries, yogurts and cereal bars from the menu was well as a full cooked breakfast. Mr S had to go for the full Pig Out while Oscar and I enjoyed eggs on toast, avocado and salmon.
This is quite honestly the best toast I’ve ever had.
We had all our meals in the main restaurant and here’s a selection of things we tried:
Courgettes with sweet corn.
Ray wing with broccoli and capers
‘Adult’ fish fingers.
A chicken sharing dish.
As you can see all the dishes had that feeling of home comfort, that ‘just like mum used to make’ style food but with a gourmet twist. Everything was excellent, we didn’t have one bad dish.
Oscar was incredibly well catered for too, with lots of options for healthy meals on the children’s menu and plenty of high chairs to go round. We saw lots of other children in the restaurant too. One night we took him for dinner with us and the next night the hotel helped us organise a baby sitter so we took him for dinner early and went back later just us for a dinner date night. Our first since March!
There is a second Wood Oven Restaurant in the Garden but that was closed during our stay because of the weather. The menu looks amazing and I’d love to come back in summer to try it.
Elsewhere inside the hotel there are plenty of cosy corners. At the bar the cocktails are designed with the Kitchen Garden in mind and many ingredients come directly from the garden to infuse the spirits (many of which are sourced locally too). Beer comes from local breweries such as Shepherd Neame and Kentish Pip and the hotel is a huge supporter of Wine Garden of England, a wine trail through the Kent countryside.
If you don’t take a seat at the bar, you can find a fire-side sofa in one of the lounges of the house. There’s an ‘upstairs, downstairs’ type feel about the place with different little nooks around the place to perch.
You’ll probably be wondering did we feel safe wondering around the hotel? Well yes we did, all staff members are in masks with guests having to mask inside unless they were sat at a table. It was clear plenty of measures were taken to throughly clean and sanitise throughout the hotel and hand sanitiser was placed everywhere. Tables were removed in the restaurant and bar to allow for more physical distancing and menus are on a QR code. To avoid too much contact, guests are phoned in advance with an introduction to the hotel and check out is automatic, as the hotel aren’t taking cash payments I was able to settle the bill online after our stay.
Did this spoil our stay? I wouldn’t say so – some of these measures are actually more convenient than before. I was worried about wearing a mask but as we were wandering around outdoors a lot and only really wearing the mask when going to our table it was fine. The 10pm curfew must be adhered too even in rural hotels such as this – whilst not a problem with those of us with a 14 month old I do understand how this can cause frustration for hotel management and guests.
If outside is where you want to be, you can take a seat in the terrace…
Enjoy a stroll around the kitchen garden…
Or take a seat on the lawn! I will say as there’s not a huge amount to do at the hotel, older children may get bored but O was happy to have a little tootle around the grass. If you want to add a little more adventure I would advise exploring the area outside the hotel, and discovering more about historic Canterbury.
While there isn’t a spa per se, guests can get treatments in the Potting Shed with massages and facials using Bamford products available.
Another thing that I love about The Pig is that rooms come in all shapes and sizes – there are 29 rooms in total located in the main House and the Coach House varying in size from ‘Extremely small’ to ‘Big Comfy Luxe’. As well as the two lodges for families, there’s the Barn which is also located on two storeys and is perfect for a couple looking for privacy and space. There’s also the unique Hop Pickers huts, located along a boardwalk by a stream.
A few final thoughts, though The Pig doesn’t classify as a five star hotel (as a small hotel it doesn’t have all the amenities to rank it as such), for me the stellar levels of personal service are truly five star. From the minute you arrive, you feel right at home with the friendly and informal yet highly professional staff. I don’t think I need to tell you that is have simply fallen in love with luxury yet relaxing style of this hotel brand, and I can’t wait to try more of their locations!
Great for Kids
Fantastic family friendly rooms.
A high quality and large variety kids menu.
Lots of beautiful grounds to explore.
Great for Parents
Top notch food and drinks
High standard of service but relaxed feeling. You’re invited to ‘come as you are.’`
Spa treatments from Bamford