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Hotel review: The Pig, New Forest, Brockenhurst – part #1

The Pig is…in the New Forest. What? Are you reviewing a country hotel ?! I hear you say. I know, I know- the blog coverage has been heavily biased towards East London and Asian places recently but that’s not all I do in my life. I occasionally DO get out of my Hackney bubble and venture into the real world. Most of the time I don’t like it.  Yes, I am a city snob and proud of it. Except that I wasn’t born in a city; in fact, both my parents grew up in farms and the memory of helping my Granddad to pick fruits from a tree still bring tears (of joy) to my eyes. 

the pig hotel new forest

Joking aside, I know the English countryside has much more to offer than meat and three veg in a ‘80s looking roadside motel called “country house” in the brochure. I just needed an excuse to reconcile myself with it and getting excited about life outside London again. And a day out at The Pig was just the perfect occasion, although it took some persuasion to get me out of the TFL area so soon (actually, they got me at  “walled garden” and “locally bred pigs” but I am playing hard to get). In fact, it was just so perfect it is hard to believe I am not making this up – even the pictures are brilliant although I am no photographer. Yes, the sun did help a bit but the place it’s indeed utterly beautiful and worth the trip- that is, if you can part yourself from Shoreditch chic for a day, and deal with live animals rather than taxidermy ones.

The Pig is a Restaurant-with rooms in Brockenhurst, in the midst of the New Forest. But this doesn’t mean you have to prepare for a long journey- after all, yes we do want nature but most of the time it’s in the form of a bunch of peonies from Columbia Flower Market so we’re not ready to trek for hours. We got on the train from Waterloo at 10.30 and got there just in time for lunch, after a 10-minute cab ride from the Brockenhurst station.

The Pig Hotel new forest head chef James Golding 25 mile menu

We were greeted by the Head Chef, James Golding, who explained to us what The Pig is all about – the 25 mile menu (see below), the seasonality, the herbs garden, the locally bred cattle etc. If I was just a tiny bit skeptical about how a chef who’s worked for Le Caprice, J Sheekey and the Savoy could do in the midst of the countryside, I was just about to find my explanation. The Pig estate IS a chef’s playground and a food lover’s paradise.

What really sets The Pig apart for me, having been to a number of country hotels where the only “country” you could actually enjoy without a car was a purely decorative artificial pond and a couple of flower beds, was the surrounding farm and the walled garden which is not just decorative but makes the “from farm to fork” ethos a reality.

We did have a tour of the impressive grounds and the walled garden with James and Jo, the resident gardener for The Pig. All guests can enjoy the same tour- in fact, you can even go on a foraging tour in the New Forest with The Pig resident forager and pick your lunch, literally. In the walled garden, traditional British vegetables like rhubarb and cabbage grow alongside continental and exotic varieties- I spotted some Italian herbs, radicchio, arugula and even “agretti”,  a specialty of Roma similar to samphire. There were also species I had never heard of, like sea celery; it grows in the shadows, and even though it looks a bit like celery the flavour and smell are completely different, similar to kelp or algae – in fact, it reminded me of the typical “beach in winter” smell in my seaside hometown.

The Pig new forest walled garden foraging tour

Walking amongst the allotments, picking leaves and eating them raw to enjoy the pure, unadulterated smell and flavour of fresh vegs (who knew Red Mizuna can taste so good?) made me feel twenty years younger – and also quite hungry thinking of the lunch that would be cooked with them.

Same goes- sorry vegetarians- for the pigs, quails and hens raised on the premises, including a rare breed of Kune Kune pigs. I think it’s very true that happy pigs make good pigs, and definitely not just the the piglets but all animals here are having a good life.

The Pig hotel kune kune pigs

The Pig also has possibly the smallest spa in the world – it’s called The Potting Shed, a tiny, cute shack on the pond, where you can enjoy massages and facials disturbed only by the ducks quacking. Personally, I’d save my dosh for more of the amazingly fresh food, but if you’re into this kind of things this is certainly a spa like no other.

Pig Hotel world smallest spa

(more on The Pig on the next post- this time, it’ s all about the food!) 

 

Disclosure: I was a guest of The Pig for lunch and travel.

Summary
Reviewer
Serena Mariani
Review Date
Reviewed Item
The Pig Hotel, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
Author Rating
4
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2 Comments

  1. LOL yes it WAS your post I read! Doesn’t it look fabulous!!! Deeply envious!

    • sorry, so behind with the blog after hols- yes it’s a great place and I really hope you can go soon :)

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