If you’re looking for the perfect place to while away a wintery weekend, you needn’t travel far. Just a train ride away and a five-minute taxi from Brockenhurst station you’ll find The Pig Hotel nestled deep in the heart of the New Forest.
Wrap up warm in a woolly jumper, borrow a pair of the The Pig’s wellies and visit the hotel’s happiest residents – the pigs themselves. After exploring the gardens and grounds, curl up by an open fire with a glass of wine and some comfort food. Sound like heaven?
At the end of a tree-lined drive in the heart of the New Forest sits the stunning Pig Hotel – a handsome 17th century country house with white columns in front and ivy growing up the façade.
With beautifully decorated rooms with four poster beds and roll-top baths, a famous restaurant offering mouth-watering food, and sweeping grounds featuring a courtyard with a food-fired oven, an impressive walled kitchen garden, a greenhouse, a lily pad covered pond and swings hanging from old oak trees, this stylish sty has all the ingredients for a perfect wind-down weekend.
When we arrived at The Pig, it felt a bit like arriving at a friend’s home rather than a hotel. The country house felt homely and lived in, with bare wood floors, muted colours, piles of books, miss-matched furniture, log baskets and crackling open fires.
The hallway was lined with wellington boots for guests to borrow whenever they liked, comforting fires were lit in every room and the sink-into-sofas made you never want to leave.
Chic and understated, the country house hotel purposefully mismatches everything from the furniture and cushions to the crockery, cutlery and glassware, for a relaxed, laid-back and homely feel.
We were taken up to our room – a country chic room with a big four-poster bed, views of the New Forest, a separate dressing room and a mini fridge and mini pantry stocked with every biscuit and snack you could crave for, and a gorgeous bathroom with a monsoon shower, roll-top bath, organic toiletries and soft fluffy bathrobes.
We popped on a pair of wellies and strolled out through the courtyard, past the wood-fired oven, and found The Pig’s resident kitchen gardener and forager. He showed us into the greenhouse – filled with herbs, garlic, chilli peppers and all sorts of edible plants I’d never even seen before! He then showed us the walled kitchen garden, The Pig’s raison d’être, which dictates the restaurant’s menu. What’s on offer changes daily, sometimes hourly, according to what’s in season and ready to be picked, and one section of the menu even reads ‘literally picked this morning’. Almost everything else is sourced within a 25-mile radius, and mushrooms, berries and wild salads are foraged from the forest. The gardener then took us to see their quails, chickens, and of course their pigs – happily roaming around and rolling around in the mud.
We enjoyed the late afternoon sun swinging from the oak tree at the front, and then warmed up by the log fire with a couple of cocktails (served in mismatched glasses, of course).
The restaurant is in a beautiful conservatory style room with rustic wooden tables, old wooden school chairs, plant pots on every table, foliage-covered trellises and a light, airy greenhouse ceiling – similar to Petersham Nurseries Cafe in London. Most of the menu is sourced from the kitchen garden and the rest within 25 miles of the estate. The back of the menu illustrates each of the restaurant’s outside suppliers, letting guests know a bit about where their food came from.
The menus is divided into ‘Piggy Bits’ (saddleback scratching & apple sauce) which are pre-starter snacks, ‘Starters and Small Plates (Or Bigger!)’ which are more substantial starters, ‘Literally Picked This Morning’ which is whatever the gardener has picked for the kitchen that morning, ‘Forest and Solent’ which are the main courses, and the ‘Garden Sides’ are unusual veggies that have come from The Pig’s walled kitchen garden.
After trying a little bit of everything and a bottle of wine to share, we headed up to our room and sank into the enormous four poster bed, happy as two pigs in muck.