THE PIG-near Bath
Pensford near Bath, England
At a Glance
Amazing locally sourced cuisine, often home-grown in its own kitchen garden
Low-key shabby chic style
Close to Bath and an ideal base to explore the Mendip Hills
A boutique country house hotel dating from 1820
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
It is very difficult to predict the weather in the United Kingdom - in the summer from May to late September is generally seen as the most pleasant time to visit. Rainfall is difficult to predict - but the UK does not receive as much as many are led to believe! In the winters, temperatures do fall, but there is nothing better than finding a remote pub with a roaring fire to sit beside after a long walk in the country.
To start planning your vacation to THE PIG-near Bath
The PIG-near Bath is a delightful laid-back boutique 29-bedroom country house hotel located 8 miles from Bath. The hotel epitomizes the shabby chic style, and is well known for its wonderful locally sourced food and great service.
The PIG hotels began life in Hampshire and were a huge hit - and this new little piggy certainly doesn't disappoint. It retains the PIGs iconic shabby chic style - taking an old country house and subtly blending old and new - with all those little touches that make you sit back and simply smile. Built in 1820, it is a charming Georgian country house set within its own Deer Park. As you arrive via the drive and approach the house, you half expect Jane Austen's Bennett girls to jump out and greet you.
The PIGs are essentially restaurants with rooms - and their food really does the talking. They source their ingredients from the surrounding 25 miles and some 300 herbs grow in their kitchen garden - they even employ a chief forager. The food is served in the Victorian greenhouse dining room and you can expect bare wood table tops and mismatched bone handled cutlery. After dinner retreat to the bar and sink into the inviting leather sofas, sip a cocktail beside the crackling fireplace.
Moving upstairs and THE PIG-near Bath has 29 different rooms, and higher categories are larger and come with free-standing bathtubs and four-poster beds. Each room has a larder stocking snacks and drinks if your tummy rumbles during the night - and they all have wonderful monsoon-style showers. Expect exposed wooden floorboards, cream walls and lightly furnished rooms with the odd dash of color here and there.
Move downstairs and you will pass a collection of Hunter wellies in all colors and sizes. Select your color and work up an appetite by taking a walk through the gardens. Bath is only a short drive away, and you can also explore the Mendip Hills home to the spectacular Cheddar Gorge. Across the garden are two potting-shed treatment rooms for a massage or facial using organic Bamford products.
THE PIG-near Bath simply offers luxury without any of the pretension - it is all about informality (the staff walk around in jeans for instance) and is lovingly low-key and relaxed. It is so refreshing to stay somewhere when it doesn't come across as 'hotely' - it is quirky and different, but that is its overall charm. You might hear the odd creaking floorboard as it is an old house, but we love places that are full of character and are a little different - and that is why The PIG-near Bath is a Scott Dunn favorite.
There are 29 rooms all with larders and Nespesso machines. The Snug Rooms are the smallest rooms and do not have bath tubs. The Comfy Rooms are larger and again just come with a shower. For bathtub lovers, opt for the Comfy Luxe or Big Comfy Luxe rooms which have a free-standing tub. The Hideaways are located in the kitchen garden, and come with wood burning stoves. Extra beds can be arranged for children.
The PIG-near Bath has two treatment rooms in the Potting Shed and a Billiards Room.
Country house hotel Hunstrete House has been rebranded as The Pig, the latest addition to Home Grown Hotels, writes Dulcie Mae Carey. The country house has been restored with the same shabby-chic style that has become The Pigs signature, and found in all its hotels. The revamped hotel describes itself as The Pig near Bath but actually its eight miles out of town, near the village of Marksbury, in the Somerset countryside and surrounded by 20 acres of woodland and a deer park.
I was recently invited to venture out of Bath to visit The Pig and, as someone who usually doesnt leave the city for dinner, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Fog gave the country house hotel an eerie-magical-movie look. Deer appeared in herds out of the mists as we swept up the drive but I wouldnt make best friends with Bambi, unless youre OK with seeing his mother later in the restaurant. For what cannot be grown in The Pigs walled kitchen garden, or in its extensive vegetable and fruit beds, is largely sourced locally within 25 miles.
I noticed a line of wellingtons and a rack of umbrellas by the entrance, for use by guests who wish to explore the countryside and grounds. This little touch gave me the impression that I was walking into a home instead of a hotel. Hotel guests can enjoy the full country house squire experience, what with the luxurious lounge, library, and billiard room at their disposal. There are 29 rooms, ranging from the snug to one of the 5 gardeners cottage rooms in the grounds.
After enjoying some Piggy Bites and cocktails in the drawing room on large comfy chairs next to a roaring fire, we were taken through to our table in the greenhouse dining room, which was decorated with candles, paintings and pots of herbs. I enjoyed a brightly colored beetroot and walnut soup for my starter, accompanied by light garlic thin toast. Knowing that the ingredients were grown in the hotel gardens gave an extra piece of satisfaction. I enjoyed a perfectly cooked 35-day aged rib eye steak with triple cooked chips and salad. The taste of the tender steak was heightened by an Argentine malbec selected for us by the sommelier.
Somehow I found the room to fit in a foragers shot and a piece of apple pie for dessert. A foragers shot is nettle and herb flavored sorbet, even though I found the idea of a nettle sorbet a little odd, the actual dessert itself worked well as a pallet cleanser.
After dinner we returned to the bar and sat of large sofas in front of yet another roaring fire, I truly felt at home and wished I were staying the night in the hotel so that I could kick off my shoes, grab a book from the library and get comfortable on the sofas before bed.
The Pig is already attracting foodies from Bath and Bristol with Saturday night bookings looking lively for the next couple of months, but it would be just as lovely to escape to this idyllic spot on a weekday.
The latest country getaway from Robin Hutson has expectations running high. The man still best associated with the Hotel du Vin chain opened the first Pig hotel in the New Forest in 2011, followed by another built into Southamptons old city wall. This year he is adding to the litter.
The Pig near Bath began welcoming guests in March. By summer, a fourth housed in a National Trust property at Studland Bay in Dorset will become part of the empire.
Nine miles outside Bath, Hutson and his team have made over the old Hunstrete House hotel, once part of the collapsed Von Essen group. The 200 year-old, Grade II-listed estate house has a bigger communal space than at Pig Number One, but many of the touches are reassuringly familiar.
Hutson has spent much of his career in country houses, and it shows. On his return to the sector, with New Forest celebrity haunt Lime Wood, he tried to marry the luxury of nearby Chewton Glen with the cool of Babington House in Somerset two properties he has had a hand in running.
The Pigs are closer in style and pricing to Hotel du Vin. As he puts it: not every weekend is a 2,000 weekend; sometimes the budget is nearer 600. When we rolled into the car park to road-test the place on opening weekend it certainly felt like special as we were greeted by the manager, Tom who proved to be more down to earth than any bellboy as he carried our bags in past the hen house.
Essentially Hutson has taken his tried-and-tested model from market towns deep into the countryside to create a hotel that wont scare off older visitors, yet cool enough to be enjoyed by his two grown-up sons one of whom runs the kitchen garden here.
The group has also been adept at cultivating a well-known following. Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville, retired swimmer Sharron Davies, rugby player Lewis Moody and chef Gizzi Erskine were all in attendance on opening night to enjoy rhubarb fizz, charcuterie and a late-night hog roast.
The dcor is shabby chic, with distressed wood floors, roaring fires and a chunky cocktail bar. There are vegetable crates artfully arranged in the dining room, Welsh dressers, wall-mounted deer heads, gramophones and tea and slabs of cake on arrival.
The 29 rooms, spread between the main house, coach house and a few in renovated garden sheds that ring the garden, benefit from the input of Hutsons wife Judy, with big white baths, sturdy beds, generous pillows and a moss-green color scheme to match the fields outside.
Villagers invited to the opening-night party remember the swimming pool of old they could come up to use, but that is long gone. In its place, the Pig is growing kale, cabbage and rhubarb to play up its locally sourced credentials on the menu that boasts Literally Picked This Morning salads. On the estate there is also a herd of fallow deer and chickens to keep guests fed.
In fact, the place is a heaven for meat eaters, with venison and pork sausage rolls and black pudding ball starters. For mains, there is well-presented homely fare such as braised shin of Somerset beef and Kentucky fried wild rabbit, with the option of triple-cooked chips in served in flower pots on the side. The menu also makes the most of being deep in cheese country, serving up local Godminster Cheese and Pong Cheese.
Fish makes a begrudging appearance, with Brixham cod bending the rules implied by the 25-Mile Menu. In fact, Pig Number One started out with a 15-Mile Menu but sourcing fish proved problematic so it added 10 miles that took in as far as Poole Harbour. Its obvious that the rules here, like the ambience, are relaxed.
And when youre not eating, what is there to do? Beyond Bath, in fact 30 miles in the other direction, is the town of Wells, a real find with its old city walls, striking cathedral and castle moat. The Kilver Court designer shopping outlet at Shepton Mallet has a good selection of fashion brands.
Cheddar Gorge and the Mendip Hills mean this is good driving country.
Back at base, there are some easy walks to the local villages and rows of Hunter wellies and pink umbrellas to borrow from if it looks like rain. If the downpour gets too much, try the wood-panelled billiards room, or book a massage or facial in the two potting-shed treatment rooms that overlook the garden.
And the drawbacks? Oddly, the mirror above the sink in the bathroom was irksome. Im all for minimalist rooms, but it was just too small to shave in and my wife struggled to do her make-up. On Sunday morning, as we explored the garden, there was bit of engine noise that wafted in from the road, which youd rather not have intruding on your solitude. But its by no means the A4.
Small quibbles aside, I would say that Hutson has delivered again. The Pig near Bath is decent value, with a strong emphasis on details and staff who succeed in being knowledgeable and helpful, but not intrusive. A hotel that is bound to bring home the bacon.
Anyone wanting to stay in a proper, grown up, classic country house hotel but at prices hardly more than charged in a smart pub. Aficionados of the original Pig at Brockenhurst in the New Forest, will find all they like about that place, but on a much larger, more expansive scale. Its The Pig on steroids, says owner Robin Hutson.
Hunstrete House, a Grade-II listed country house dating from 1820, has become the third Pig Hotel after the Pig at Brockenhurst and The Pig in the Wall. It stands in the Chew Valley about eight miles from Bath, surrounded by its own deer park, and with a large kitchen garden that has now been completely restored and restocked by the owners son, Ollie Hutson.
What worked beautifully in the small-scale Pig at Brockenhurst essentially rural shabby chic, part comfy, part glamorous, part laid back without a whiff of starchy formality has translated extraordinarily well in the hands of Robin and Judy Hutson to the far grander proportions of a period country house. Every object, from the simplest terracotta pots upwards, has been hunted down by them and, along with stripped floors, painted sawn timber clad walls, velvet curtains, chandeliers and cleverly mismatched rugs and fabrics, the result is grand yet informal, with not a jarring note.
With a training program for employees of the Pigs and sister hotel Lime Wood, key positions have been filled by staff from those other establishments, overseen by experienced general manager Tom Ross, and the service here seems far more mature than at the first Pig when it opened. The team, a mix of locals and existing employees, seem genuinely happy.
Most rooms are in the main house; there are four garden rooms that have great charm, and two enchanting Hideaway rooms in the kitchen garden, which, at 209 midweek are the most expensive. The cheapest Snug rooms are cosy and pretty, with the same equipment (such as minibars and Nespresso coffee machines) as the rest.
Food & drink
The sous chef at The Pig in Brockenhurst has been promoted to head chef here. For those who know both hotels, its a shame that the menus are not more diverse, but the cooking is almost equally good here. A varied and interesting wine list has been built from scratch by head sommelier Adrien Espinasse.
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