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Wednesday
Mar212012

Sty in the New Forest

Nestled in the New Forest just outside of Brockenhurst, Hampshire, is a country house hotel whose moniker belies just how handsome and luxurious it is. The Pig certainly has its fair share of shabby chic – the comfortable interiors make it feel like a home from home – but it’s much more than a simple sty.

The Pig in Hampshire, thepighotel.co.ukNot surprising when you realise that The Pig is the sister establishment to Lime Wood, also in Hampshire, a hotel that has won praise, awards and a loyal following since it opened in 2009. Both were set up and remain under the chairmanship of Robin Hutson, co-creator of Hotel du Vin.

The 26 rooms are sumptuous and indulgent with individual quirks and features, retained from before the building became a hotel. Monsoon showers, freestanding baths and luxurious linens make a night here a relaxing joy. But what really raises The Pig above its competitors is its restaurant.

A luxurious bedroom at The PigMake sure to book a table here when you book a room as the restaurant is understandably popular with locals and is always busy. Head chef James Golding has an impressive CV, having previously worked at Le Caprice, The Ivy, J. Sheekey and Soho House New York and brings no-nonsense quality to The Pig’s kitchen. The hotel employs a forager, Garry Eveleigh, to source ingredients from the surrounding forest and has its own walled kitchen garden – 80 per cent of fresh ingredients come from the local area. The Pig runs guided foraging walks for guests, led by Garry, who knows the edible parts of the New Forest like no other.

The Pig acts as a home away from home for visitorsUnsurprisingly the menu has a strong porky bias – ‘Piggy Bits’ that usually include scotch eggs, crackling, sausage rolls and pig’s brawn come before starters as the suggested way to begin your meal. They make a brilliant appetiser, but leave room for the main menu – starters, mains and specials are all delicious and prepared with care. The menu changes with the seasons and micro-seasons, but highlights on our visit included slow-roasted pork belly, breaded escalope of Romsey Farm pork, roast loin of New Forest venison and home-smoked haddock and poached hen egg salad.

One of the spacious rooms at The PigPuddings are fittingly exquisite, the perfect end to the meal. The gin and tonic jelly is sharp, sweet and delicious but the absolute star was a soft, silky almond milk blancmange – one of the best desserts we’ve tried in years. With a superb wine list and a relaxed but convivial dining room, it’s worth making the journey to The Pig just to try the restaurant. But it’s better to take a weekend to relax in the hotel’s confines, or use it as a base to explore the New Forest. Apart from anything else, the hotel’s extraordinary breakfasts really, really shouldn’t be missed.

 Rooms start from £125 a night. A meal for two with wine and service, around £120. The Pig, Beaulieu Road, New Forest, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7QL, 01590 622354, thepighotel.co.uk.