Browsing Tag


Blog, UK - Outside London

The Pig in the Wall, Southampton

April 2, 2017
The Pig in the Wall, Southampton

Southampton is not the first place you’d think to go for an English weekend break.  And had the Pig in the Wall not been there, I would not have recommended it.  However, the Pig in the Wall is the perfect ‘gate way’ to the New Forest and so ideal for a Saturday night stay.   Apart from that, the Pig in the Wall is nestled in what remains of Southampton’s 12th century city walls, and so has a lot of charm in itself.

The Pig in the Wall, Southampton

Those of you who have not been to the Pig are in for a treat.  The original of the now five Pig hotels is the Pig at Brockenhurst, in the heart of the New Forest in Hampshire.  I stayed here for the weekend over three years ago, and absolutely loved it.  The problem is, everyone loves it and so it’s always fully booked.  Solution?  Book the Pig in the Wall (often with much better availability AND lower prices).

You’re only a 15 – 20 minute drive from the New Forest from here (having a car is ideal), so you can spend the whole of Saturday walking / biking in the New Forest (here are some ideas) and then you can head back to the Pig in the Wall in the afternoon to freshen up and enjoy their lovely rooms.  They also have a wonderful sitting room/cafe/lobby, where you can sit by the fire in the winter or on their terrace outside in the summer.   They serve delicious (and very strong) coffees / drinks / snacks all day long, and the best continental breakfasts in the morning.  I absolutely loved this room, it really feels like you’re a guest at someone’s (stunning) home.  The staff are beyond friendly.

The Pig in the Wall, SouthamptonThe pig in the wallThe Pig in the Wall, SouthamptonThe Pig in the Wall, Southampton

There are twelve bedrooms here, all individual.  We had the Snug room which was undeniably very snug (the Cosy room is a bit bigger, for £20 more).  But also with a lot of character, under the eaves.  Our room had the Pig’s signature very comfortable beds, and fantastic power shower.  They use space cleverly, so you really have everything you need.   And with prices starting from £120, it’s good value.

The Pig in the Wall, Southampton

One of the other perks of staying at the Pig in the Wall is the complimentary Land Rover ‘shuttle service’, where they will drive you to the Pig at Brockenhurst for dinner (book this far in advance!), and pick you up afterwards.  So you can enjoy a drink or two without worrying about how you’re going to get back.  And I highly recommend this.  The Pig at Brockenhurst was even lovelier than I remembered, with now an expanded organic vegetable garden and a phenomenal restaurant.  And after dinner we could even still enjoy a few night caps by the fire.

The Pig at Brockenhurst, new ForestThe Pig at Brockenhurst, new ForestThe Pig at Brockenhurst, new Forest

Bottom line: the Pig hotels remain some favourite British hotels.  And I’m keen to visit their newest two (the Pig on the Beach, and the Pig at Coombe) soon.

The Pig in the Wall

8 Western Esplanade



Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Oldroyd, Islington

August 13, 2016
Oldroyd, Islington

I used to really like Polpo.  Until it became a chain restaurant.  Dinner there, while the food was still good, became a less special occasion (the one in Notting Hill gate is large and impersonal, contrasting massively to the tiny original in Soho).  So it’s perhaps no wonder that then chef-director of the Polpo group Tom Oldroyd packed his bags last year and opened his own restaurant on Upper Street.

Oldroyd, IslingtonOldroyd, Islington

Oldroyd has buckets of what the new Polpos now sadly lack: charm.  It’s much ‘cuter’ than Polpo (I promise the comparisons stop now), and its bright and airy disposition lends well to a long and boozy Saturday lunch.  Which is what we did, after accompanying my sister to try on some wedding dresses down the road.  Summer dinners could work too, as they have a few tables outside on the street, so you can enjoy lively Angel vibes while having dinner.

Oldroyd, Islington

Tom Oldroyd clearly knows what he’s doing.  The food is excellent.  Small sharing plates, seasonal fresh ingredients, interesting flavours.  We had huge fresh prawns, crisp light salads and phenomenal ‘vegetarian’ meatballs.  Pudding wasn’t quite so light, with warm rhubarb almond tart and tiramisu, where plates were licked unabashedly.

Oldroyd, Islington

While the place is tiny, this is no bad thing (if you book well in advance).  I love small restaurants.  They offer something more intimate, and also give you a sense of smugness for having managed to get a table.

So full marks for Tom, who’s given me yet another reason to return to Angel.


344 Upper St,

London N1 0PD

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