A tipsy pig. Not me, that was the name of the first cocktail we ordered (bought to us by a waiter we’d quite like to take home) enjoyed in front of a roaring fire, whilst we sunk deeper into our leather sofa. So far, so good. We’d been here a grand total of five minutes and already we couldn’t imagine leaving.
Self-described as “a restaurant with rooms”, The Pig on the Beach is so much more than that. As the name suggests, the property is situated on Studland Bay (a small village in Dorset) with uninterrupted views of the coast. As well as 23 unique hotel rooms, you’ll find the greenhouse restaurant (more of that later), the ‘Round House’ (a private dining room of dreams – it’s my 30th next year – hint HINT!) and it’s also home to some very cute piglets and a brood of chickens.
Get yourself in the zone with a massage in one of the two treatment ‘rooms’. In fact your relaxation of choice will take place in a shepherds hut at the end of the garden, big enough for one and toastier than you could imagine possible. We opted for the hour-long ‘De-Stress Massage’ in which aromatic organic aromatherapy oil was put to good use by a therapist not afraid to use her elbow to get out every last knot. London? What London. Stress, be gone.
Grabbing a pair of complimentary Hunters and a brolly, we headed out into the Great British drizzle to embark on a bracing walk. The Pig kindly provide a choice of two maps to follow, taking either 2 hours (4miles) or 80 minutes (2.5miles). Thinking we were made of tough stuff we embarked on the longer of the two, which promised to take in nearby Old Harry Rocks and Ballard Down. We were mightily impressed by the bright blue of the sea and the vibrant green grass on top of pure white cliffs – call us silly city folk but it felt like the country on HD. Unfortunately a big gust of wind decided to rid us of our map – and we couldn’t for the life of us pick up an Uber. Tails between our legs we cut short our walk and spent the rest of the afternoon warming up in our roll-top tub. Call me cynical but I think this could have been an intentional slip of the hand by someone who shall remain nameless.
We were staying in one of their mid-range Comfy Luxe rooms. We primarily chose this over cheaper options because it came with a free-standing bath – and really, we ask you – what’s the point of a sexy weekend in the country without one? Aside from this you’ll find a walk-in monsoon shower, a well-stocked ‘larder’ (read: mini bar), a retro Roberts digital radio, Nespresso machine, Bramley toiletries and the latest copy of Stylist.
If you’re not feeling quite so energetic, the kitchen’s immaculate garden is open for guests to potter around. We saw more varieties of kale, squash and herbs than we could name. Knowing all of these gorgeous organic ingredients would end up on our plate that evening got us salivating. Which leads us nicely to…. dinner! Be sure to book well ahead to secure a table at a sociable hour (no-one wants the OAP slot).
The kitchen is overseen by Chef James Golding and Head Chef Andy Wright. What can’t be grown in the garden is sourced locally, in what is affectionately referred to as the 25mile menu. For that reason the menu is tweaked regularly to allow for seasonal ingredients to take the limelight. Whilst we were there we enjoyed a slightly retro crab cocktail (complete with iceberg lettuce), squash-filled pasta with chilli and walnuts, baked celeriac and Cornish hake. British cooking at its best.
And if they can’t squeeze you in to the main dining room (or you just can’t be bothered to move) they’ll happily bring you piggy bits (think THE best sausage rolls you’ve ever tasted), fishy bits (posh fish fingers) warming post-hike cauliflower soup spruced up with a little lemon oil and heaving cheese boards to wherever you’re sat – may we recommend, in front of one of the fireplaces?
The wine list is extensive, with plenty of choice by the bottle and just enough by the glass. As luck would have it, we discovered a buttery Chardonnay so good we had them hook us up to an intravenous drip for the rest of the weekend. If bubbles are more your thing, forget the champagne and plump for the Hambledon English Sparkling instead – a complex wine that will not disappoint.
We awoke the next day to an infinitely sunnier outlook. After retrieving our newspaper of choice (the Sunday Times since you ask) from our outside post box, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves back in the steamed up greenhouse for the most important meal of the day.
You’d perhaps expect breakfast to be included in the room rate, but alas, it’s an additional £10 for the breakfast table (although they really do put on a cracking spread) and an extra fiver for a cooked breakfast. Well…. It’d be rude not too.
Expect homemade/local cereals, compotes, fruits and yoghurts, as well as a DIY boiled egg station. We couldn’t say no to the bacon sandwich (I wasn’t coming all this way without trying their namesake) – thick cut rashers, cooked until crisp and served on sourdough (with tomato ketchup, obvs). The avocado & poachies on toast being the one exception made to the 25mile menu.
As we were leaving on Sunday we caught sight of a chalkboard announcing there was one room left for the night, available at the special price of £99……..tempting. Very tempting. The swine’s.