The Pig, Brockenhurst, England
Will Ross, March 16, 2018
Despite the gradual slimming of the New Forest, a small patch on its perimeter is being restored without compromise. As the first property in a now renowned portfolio, The Pig at the New Forest has a special place in the family, itself a shining example of heritage restoration with the conscientious integration of local produce and farm-to-table priorities of the new millennium.
Though The Pig’s tenure in Brockenhurst isn’t even a decade old, its adoption of a 17th century farmhouse throws it into a plot that first began in 1634. The building’s original name was Whitley Ridge Lodge, with its first occupant being a certain George Bright. The property has survived through the ages as a private residence, becoming a hotel in the 1950s.
One of most successful post-recession stories in hospitality is also one of hyper localism and seasonality, a tempo that takes into account the peaks and troughs of growing seasons to remarkable effect. Now spread across five venues in the south of England, hotels from The Pig place their kitchens and gardens at the center of the offering, with rooms being an additional option for those who want to sample an adorably local lifestyle for a night or two.
A seasonal menu is staccatoed, rotating almost daily according to the local supply of the various products from the property and its 25-mile radius. Reserve at The Pig in the Forest’s restaurant as a hotel guest or visitor more than a fortnight in advance and you’ll have to guess or vaguely predict the dining options. But visitors to the restaurant can expect an odd variety of dishes that weave their way towards acceptability with delicious tastes. Lyme Bay Monkfish Tail might be matched with Hampshire chorizo, beetroot mixed with buttermilk in a soup, or lamb breast could come paired with lamb neck, from nearby Romsey. If anyone disputes the provenance of food, they can be taken on foraging trip with an expert.
It’s hard to imagine the early occupants of the property enjoying such outstanding dining, but they will have no doubt been familiar with the delightful composition of the property. A bar is tactfully placed at the front of the building, an easy deviation for anyone entering with a keen left eye. Opposite this is another lounge, and a third seating area is located across from the restaurant. The largest room in the property is its dining area, half of which sits beneath a broad Alitex conservatory, an addition made by The Pig.
Bedrooms within the main house are spread throughout the first and second floors, broken down by the helpful categories of Snug, Comfy, Comfy Luxe and Family, ordered according to size with Comfy Luxe including a freestanding bath and Family including a wood burning store, living area and bunk room.
Beyond the main house are three versions of accommodation. Hideaways (photo below) come with baths in one of the newer outhouses, The Hog House, Hen House and Tamworth. Other standalone options include two Lodges, one with a compact kitchenette, a Forest Cabin positioned in a secluded spot, the Pig House with bunk beds for children, and two units clad in reclaimed wood, Forest Hut and its larger brother, Berts Box. While these options complicate room selection at the time of booking, the main calculations is children v. romance v. liveability.
Whether staying in the main house or auxiliary buildings, all guests are able to enjoy Bamford products and are entitled to borrow DVDs from The Pig’s formidable collection, a project in conservation itself. Spa treatments are available in the Pig’s signature trailers on wheels, covering your standard variety of treatments from facials to massage, with an ancient stone massage being perhaps the most pioneering, alongside the Gentlemen’s Bespoke Facial of course.
The Pig’s location in the New Forest provides ample space for road cyclists, gravel riders and road runners who enjoy a modest amount of climbing and off-road surfaces. Consult this New Forest Cycle Map, finding route marker #292 to the north-east of Brockenhurst to locate The Pig’s access to a country lane, from where routes begin for road cyclists. Those looking for gravel cycle routes should take a left at this country lane, then a left again to connect to the route marked in green. Runners can also follow this initiative, in the knowledge that road running shoes are entirely suitable on the path. Below is a photo of the surface you can expect.
For swimming and those interested in doing some indoor strength training, Lime Wood have some options for guests of The Pig in the Forest. Lime Wood Hotel is under the same ownership as The Pig (Lime Wood Group) and has a more luxury emphasis on the accommodation. Separate from the hotel building is an the impressive sports complex they have for guests, furnished with weights and a 16m pool. Just note that prices for visiting as a guest are dear and restrictive – half-day access to the spa and gym costs £25 in addition to the treatment price, with full day access being £50. Visit the spa with no treatment and day-access is £100.
For more information on The Pig, go to thepighotel.com.