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A stay at The Pig - near Bath, UK

Robin Hutson runs what is arguably the best country house hotel in the UK, Lime Wood in the New Forest. In 2011 he launched what was dubbed his “diffusion line” – the Pig, in nearby Brockenhurst. With affordable chic as the hotel’s lodestar, it harked back to Hutson’s time at the helm of the Hotel du Vin group of “restaurants with rooms”, updating the wining and dining angle by creating a locally sourced menu, much of it from its own kitchen garden.

Further piglets have been born: the Pig In The Wall in Southampton, the Pig – on the beach in Dorset, and I went to stay at the latest incarnation of The Pig, which is nestled in the folds of the Mendip Hills at Hunstrete House, near Bath. The building’s a Grade-II Georgian manor house turned hotel that had remained unoccupied since 2011. After extensive renovations and landscaping, The Pig - near Bath opened in March 2014, with Tom Ross, hotel director, at the helm.

Tom and his team have pitched this little piggy perfectly. This hotel exudes a wholesome sort of pizzazz – a “country house with a little bit of attitude”, which was precisely Hutson’s goal. There’s 20 acres of woodland and deer park surrounding it, and a flock of chicken and quails, besides two kune kune pigs (kept as pets) and their three (currently) pint-sized piglets.

The Pig - near Bath shares the same “locavore” ethos as its siblings, with a 25-mile menu that makes use of its deer park as well as the freshly planted walled garden. (And this being the West Country there is, of course, a tremendous cheese board).

To describe The Pig – near Bath as a restaurant with rooms, however, does it a disservice. I have stayed in restaurants with rooms that are just that. The Pig - near Bath has 29 rooms, and they are spectacular. Ours was replete with armchairs, roll-top bath and a ludicrously big bed. There was also a big dressing area, a Roberts radio and a waterfall shower. The mini bar was filled with a fabulous assortment of retro goodies (Cherry Drops, Fizz Wizzes, Dib Dabs). Fittingly, amongst a stack of books, there was a tome on pig keeping. A lot of love has gone into each room, and that attention to detail continues throughout the entire hotel. It's the very definition of shabby chic, and while the intertwining rooms in the main hotel are certainly not posh, they are most definitely elegant, open and inviting, and filled with huge, slouchy sofas and fireplaces, with stacks of board games and books.

There are so many wonderful details around the place that it's hard to list them all without gushing, but I loved the barrow-style trollies used to convey luggage from reception to rooms, the croquet set and boules lying lazily in the hall, the trendy taxidermy, the billiards room, the inviting rows of Hunter wellies and the popcorn that is proffered when you borrow a DVD.

Above all, my favourite thing about the hotel was the atmosphere. I have stayed in some wonderful places over the years but I find it hard to relax fully in hotels with stuffy staff and unnecessary ceremony. At The Pig there is none of that. That's not to say the team aren't great at their jobs – they were outstanding - but formality was done away with (the proof was in the team's pink shirts and Converse-clad trotters), and they were chatty and attentive without any of that awkwardness. Case in point: whilst at dinner we started chatting with the maître d’, and discovered that my uncle in Gower is his local pharmacist. The receptionist was also solved my DVD dilemma by recommending a couple of her top titles, which proved excellent choices.

Then there's the food. And what a treat it is. The Pig is very proud of its locally sourced and foraged menu and its own kitchen garden (which is spectacular). There are Piggy Bits appetisers - posh pork crackling and brock eggs with Colman's (that's Scotch eggs to you and me, made with their own quails' eggs) - and various 'pork-inspired’ dishes on the dinner menu.

It was all delicious. It's fair to say I was full after supper, but following a good night's sleep in the world's comfiest bed, I also managed to devour a huge breakfast. I want to linger on the breakfast a little longer, because it wasn't just good, it was superb. It was a rustic buffet and there were so many unusual treats laid out for breakfast - an incredible homemade granola, oodles of yogurt, honey, fruit and nuts, mini-pastries, delicious breads and cheeses...plus incredible home-smoked salmon and eggs.

For those wishing to be truly pampered, there are two “potting shed” treatment rooms. But this is a place less to be indulged than be indulgent: relax, eat well, sleep the sleep of the sated, and don’t forget to book an early return – it really is that good;it took me (a city gal through and through) all of five seconds to declare that I was in love, moving in, and unlikely ever to return to London.

Hertz kindly provided transportation for the purposes of this review. I rented a Mercedes E350 Convertible from the Hertz Prestige Collection. The Mercedes E350 Convertible is from the Hertz Prestige Collection at www.hertz.co.uk, which is available to hire from just over £200 per day. (https://www.hertz.co.uk/rentacar/reservation/)

The Pig – near Bath http://www.thepighotel.com/near-bath/explore/

Hunstrete House, Pensford, Bath, Somerset BS39 4NS, United Kingdom

Elisabeth Rushton

Elisabeth has over a decade of experience as a luxury lifestyle and travel writer, and has visited over sixty countries. She has a particular interest in the Middle East, having travelled extensively around Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE. A keen skier, she has visited over fifty ski resorts around the world, from La Grave to Niseko. She is currently focused on writing about luxury products fo...(Read More)

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