The Pig Hotel
I have held off posting this as I was so impressed with The Pig Hotel that I wanted to make sure that it really was as good as I thought it was. To do this I have been to another couple of country house hotels to compare the product and am happy to report that I was not mistaken and it truly is one of the best all round country house hotels you can go to, whether for lunch or an over night stay.
The Pig Hotel combines two of my favourite things, train travel and great food. I think I was born in the wrong era as I still get excited about taking a train, whilst train travel was at one time stylish and you could eat superbly well in their dining cars, the same really cannot be said of today's trains. What it does do is it allows you to sit back and watch the countryside roll by, nod off if you want to, but usually takes you to somewhere you are looking forward to going to. In this case the journey started at Waterloo and ended in Brockenhurst in the New Forest to go and have lunch at The Pig Hotel. The weather was perfect, the journey very amusing with very entertaining travelling companions and all in all I was looking forward to a great lunch.
The Pig Hotels follows in the trotters of The Hotel du Vin chain as it has been set up by Robin Hutson, the former owner of said chain . His talent of knowing what people want is well known within the industry and will also soon be replicated using the template set by opening The Pig.
Getting off the train in Brockenhurst, the station would not be too out of place in The Railway Children. Its that sort a place, a bit of a time warp with thatched cottages and locals ambling about without a seeming care in the world. This image is soon left behind when you pull up outside The Pig Hotel. Although they have kept the feel of the house you are most definitely in the 21st Century with a level of comfort that would impress even the most jaded traveller.
The attention to detail on everything is superb and its obvious the amount of time and effort that has gone in it. The position of the hotel lends itself to being as self supporting as possible to ensure standards and quality. This is evident in the superb walled kitchen garden. raised beds full of vegetables and walls covered with espaliered fruit trees that will give a wide selection of fruit to add to the harvest. With the name of the hotel it is only natural that they are also breeding their own pigs and have an array of rare breeds. And to look at the menu you see that not a morsel of them goes to waste. Head chef, James Golding, a local lad who has come home after working in some of the most cosmopolitan places on earth, notably, Soho House, New York is a great believer in using local produce, thus giving local producers a much needed outlet for their products and showcasing them to the clients of the hotel.
The dining room is situated in a conservatory, and the day I was there it was packed to the rafters. This being a Tuesday, I was amazed, that was until I tasted the food. It is no wonder that it was packed. There are many restaurants in London who would like the number of people that were there. In fact the standard of food surpassed many of the better restaurants in London and if it were to relocate or open a stand alone restaurant in the capital it would in my opinion be one of the most popular. The menu changes at such a rate that most of the dished that were on the menu will no longer be there so I suggest you have a look at the website to whet your appetite.
The bar is equally spot on and the negroni I had was one of the best. It is about time I mentioned the people that work there. Without exception they are some of the most clued up I have come across. The fact that they are working in the middle of nowhere speaks volumes to the management that they are able to keep them, mind you they have a great product to work with and they give such good service that when they do decide to up sticks, they will be able to work anywhere and where ever they go will be lucky to get them.
To sum up, The Pig Hotel is the sort of place that once you have been there you will hold it in such great esteem you will long to go back. There aren't that many of those that I personally can think of and I know the next time I go I will enjoy as much as I did the time before.