I’m not a huge fan of pork. I mean, I like a crispy piece of bacon once in a while, but if I had to choose my favourite meat, pork would be at the bottom of the list. Strange then, that ever since I read about The Pig Hotel in a magazine over a year ago, I was so attracted to the place. Which they advertise as ‘a Restaurant with Rooms’. And where they have their very own pigs. And thus where pork plays a fairly dominant (though not over-riding) role in their ’25 Mile Menu’. But it’s been on my weekend wish-list ever since and celebrating a three year anniversary seemed like the perfect excuse to book two nights there (which we had to do a good three months ahead).
It did not disappoint.
We took the train to Brockenhurst in the New Forest – an hour and a half train journey from Waterloo, and a 5 minute taxi to The Pig itself. We arrived on a cold Thursday evening and were warmly welcomed at reception. The very minute you walk into the cosy (though larger than I thought) country house you feel at home. Fires blaze in the two large sitting rooms and you can hear the hum of conversation from the restaurant straight away. It was surprisingly busy for a Thursday evening and I soon came to realise that this place was always busy. Its label as a Restaurant rather than a Hotel means that it is wildly popular with the locals. And means that if you want to have lunch or dinner you should book well in advance.
We’d chosen the ‘Snug Room’ (not only because it sounded cosy but also because it was the most affordable) but it was much larger than I had expected. The bed was gigantic and the sheets so soft. The walk-in rain shower (naturally) was the best power-shower I’ve had (I had four showers in two days). I loved their attention to detail – an old school radio and telephone, a little note pad to scribble in, and your very own ‘larder (AKA mini bar) with delightful bites and complimentary Nespresso/tea/hot choc. If you want more space and a stand alone bath chose the Comfy Room or one of the Suites.
Our best moments at The Pig were sitting in the deep sofas in front of a roaring fire, cocktail menu in hand and book in the other. Such a perfect way to re-charge your batteries and fully relax. The cocktails (from the very cool bar) were fantastic – my favourite was the Gardener’s Tinkle (lemongrass infused vodka/kaffir lime syrup/bitter lemon/apple juice) though the sloe gins we had after dinner were delicious too.
We had dinner there on both Thursday and Friday night – why go elsewhere if the food is quite so good? I loved their ’25 mile’ concept – everything is so local and fresh. Take a walk through their kitchen garden and you’ll know that the greens you eat that night are straight from the vegetable patches in front of you. A little less happy is the thought that those cute fat muddy pigs in the field next door will eventually also become one of the Menu’s ‘Piggy Bits’ (which are really good and made me change my mind about pork).
The menu is varied but succinct. We enjoyed plenty of Piggy Bits on both evenings and skipped the actual ‘Starters’. For mains we chose the Venison Pie and the Braised Beef on Thursday, and on Friday we had the Shoulder of Lamb for two. Both evenings the food was hearty, filling and delicious, accompanied with a bottle of the house red (which is great value and soft and easy to drink).
Two nights didn’t seem long enough. I still wanted to play one of the board games. And borrow a DVD from their DVD library. And play on the swing hanging from a huge oak in the garden. And play tennis. And hang out with the pigs a bit more. But we certainly made the most of it.
We found out that they are opening two more Pig Hotels early next year – one near Bath and the other on the coast in Devon. I quite fancy a Pig on the Beach..
The Pig Hotel
Hampshire SO42 7QL
Rooms from £165 on the weekend