England’s Garden has a new porcine resident. The Pig at Bridge Place has taken a storied estate belonging to Kentish gentry – via a raucous rock ‘n’ roll reinvention in the Sixties – and applied a winning formula of country charm, fresh-as-it-gets food and rural relaxation. The main house is positively Peppa’d with cosy nooks to curl up in (and sip some lauded local wine), a string of cosy cabins lies beyond the babbling brook which runs through the grounds, and the trademark kitchen garden has a hidden-away patio perfect for alfresco feasting. All just a short trot from London, too.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $228.94 (£183), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
Rates do not include breakfast (£12 for Continental; £16 for cooked). Two-night minimum stay at weekends and bank holidays.
You'd never know from its bucolic setting, but Bridge Place had a period of rock 'n' roll rebellion when it was taken over in the 1960s and reinvented as Kent's hip-shaking hideout of choice. Led Zeppelin, the Kinks and Ben E King were among the notable names who played; you'll spy some original event posters in the bathrooms.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, two treatment rooms, kitchen gardens and outdoor dining, bikes to borrow. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, minibar with local favourites, and Bramley bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The bold four-poster bed with intricate floral carvings in the cosy Extremely Small room has some real Henry VIII grandeur to it (although he personally might have struggled to fit), fans of William Morris wallpaper will enjoy Coach House rooms and families are well served by the Pig Lodge rooms. For a bit of romantic drama, though, we're particularly smitten with room 2 (a Hideaway) and it's mezzanine bathroom, ripe for reciting Romeo and Juliet speeches down from the tub.
The nimble fingers in the potting shed are not of the soil-covered variety; it's home to two tranquil spaces with an extensive menu of soothing spa treatments using bespoke Bamford products. The two-hour Pig signature treatment is the ultimate when it comes to unwinding.
Don’t worry about wellies; the hotel has plenty. Do save case space for some local sparkling wine, though – you'll be spoilt for choice.
There are two rooms off the main courtyard that are fully wheelchair accessible. <br />So long as they don’t hassle the actual pigs, you’re very welcome to walk your dog in the grounds but they’re not allowed in the restaurant or rooms.
Most welcome. Travel cots can be added to rooms, menus can be adapted, babysitting is available for £10 an hour (must be requested at least two days in advance; minimum four hours per booking) and there are plenty of grounds to roam.
Take a round table in the back corner for the best indoor/outdoor vantage point. If the weather's good, a table next to the garden oven is hard to beat.
Few places embrace ‘come as you are’ quite so enthusiastically but, given this pile's past, adding a dose of rock 'n' roll swagger to your country casual can only be encouraged.
As with all Pig properties, the restaurant is the beating heart of the hotel. Here, in a long conservatory-style space lit by charming vintage lamps, chef Kamil Oseka (affectionately known as Mr Pickle; the entire wall lined with jars of preserves will tell you why) presides over a moreish menu sourced from a strict 25-mile radius (and plenty from the kitchen garden, mere metres away). There are the famed piggy bits for snacking (crackling and apple sauce, honey roasted chipolatas and ham-hock scotch eggs), a raft of just-picked veggie light bites and hearty mains from sea and shore. We pigged out on Folkestone hake, Dover crab and Sevenoaks venison but dishes come and go with the season. Follow your nose beyond the vegetable patches outside and you'll find the 'garden oven' serving flatbreads, salads and grilled meats among the foliage during the warmer months.
High of ceiling, roaring of fire and squashy of sofa, the bar is a temptingly cosy corner for a tipple, lined, in signature Pig fashion, with shelves of mismatched coloured glassware. Cocktails are crafted with a horticultural twist, Kentish brews fill the beer fridge, nightcaps aplenty pack the spirits shelves and, being in the heart of English wine country, plenty of local vintages are served – you’ll leave a convert even if you arrive a sceptic. There's also a courtyard bar for when the sun decides to shine.
Breakfast is served between 7am and 10am (and from 7.30am to 10.30am at weekends); lunch is noon to 2.30pm; dinner is between 6.30pm and 9.30pm. Food is served in the bar from noon until 9pm; drinks are available until midnight.
The Pig at Bridge Place is on a prime plot of land in the verdant village of Bridge, a short drive from historic Canterbury
Lydd airport, near Ashford, is a 45-minute drive away. London City airport is in the right corner of the capital for a convenient escape to Kent.
The nearest station is Bekesbourne, served by South Eastern from London Victoria, but faster, more frequent trains go to neighbouring Canterbury from London St Pancras.
Driving from London should take about an hour and a half and parking is free at the hotel. Canterbury is a 15-minute drive away.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you've over-indulged a little you're likely to be in good company; thankfully there are glorious grounds – either side of the gently trickling tributary of the River Nailborne that carves through the estate – just right for a restorative stroll (or cycle if you're feeling active). If you prefer your perambulations with purpose, Simpsons Wine Estate is two miles away and promises a sip or three of its méthode traditionnelle-crafted blends (we highly recommend the Chalklands sparkling). If that whets your whistle, the surrounding area is known as the Wine Garden of England so you're well placed for a tour; Biddenden and Chapel Down are two of the bigger names but there are plenty to discover. Think punting is the preserve of Oxbridge scholars? Think again. Nearby Canterbury has its own pole-pushed vessels for lazy drifts down the River Stour. On land, its cute cobbled streets are ideal for idle ambling. For more exotic adventures, Howlett's Wild Animal Park is practically a neighbour; a 100-acre home to rhinos, tigers, leopards, gorillas and more. Whitstable, the picturesque beach-hut-lined fishing port, is a half-hour drive north; the hipster shores of Margate are 45 minutes north-east and the up-and-coming Deal is just 30 minutes to the east.
Anyone taking the train to or from Canterbury should allow some time for a pit-stop at the Goods Shed: a station-side food hall and farmer's market heaving with fresh fare and tempting tipples. In nearby Fordwich, you'll find the Fordwich Arms and its Kentish pub-gone-posh menu that The Guardian hailed as 'food that makes you want to move house' (in a good way, we should add). If daytripping to Whitstable, chart a course for the seafood-centric, Michelin-starred Sportsmanand the iconic bijou oyster bar, Wheelers (though you'll need to book well in advance; it only seats 12).
Two-wheel tourers can park up at the Independent Pedaler in nearby Bridge for a pit-stop of fresh and wholesome salads, paninis and baked goods.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this new addition to the Pig litter and unpacked their haul of English wine, a full account of their food-stuffed stay will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Pig at Bridge Place…
Pig puns at the ready; there's a newbie in the pen. Yes, everyone's favourite collection of country-chic retreats has headed to the heart of Kent and applied its winning ways to a faded manor house-with-history. The result, as ever, is piggin' perfection: equal parts cosseting, charming, playful and peaceful. There's an added sense of mischief, too, with knowing nods to the house's colourful past as a 17th-century society seat and a racy 1960s rock club (sample invite: 'Ladies may come unescorted if they wish. Many do!'). Take a snout around and you'll find some devilishly good details – old World War I trench lanterns repurposed as lampshades, stained glass windows salvaged from salubrious Soho haunt Quo Vadis, kitchen lamps sourced from old pie 'n' mash shops, vintage metal mailboxes affixed to the front of the charming hop picker's huts – among the more familliar worn wood, warm lighting and covetable trinkets. Outdoors, as well as chickens, cows, quails, the occasional pheasant and, yes, pigs, you'll find a trickling stream straight out of a storybook beyond which lies the all-important kitchen garden. It's the source of much of the Pig at Bridge Place's praiseworthy 25-mile menu; the rest coming from Kent's bounty of first-class suppliers from land and sea (it's wine isn't bad, either). So, yes, first-class food, none-more-comfortable rooms (with perfect shower pressure, for what it's worth), a convivial atmosphere and spot-on service. It is, shall we say, a very Pig house in the country.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Pig at Bridge Place’s Guestbook below.
The gravel drive and crunching our way up to the main house. The garden full of herbs and vegetables being tended by gardeners. The welcome and helpful approach of each and every person working there. The cosy atmosphere of the Extremely Small room (with fabulous four poster bed). The smell of wood burning at The Garden Oven.
To have to get dressed up - the relaxed way of doing things here means that you can switch off let the wonderful ethos wash over you. Pizza on a blanket in the meadow? Yes, please!
Stayed on 26 Aug 2019
We were made very welcome as soon as we arrived. All the staff were very pleasant and helpful. The room (a Comfy Luxe) was amazing. The food was excellent and the grounds are lovely to walk around. We will certainly be back.
Stayed on 10 Jul 2019
The setting is beautiful (admittedly the weather was perfect – wall to wall sunshine), the kitchen garden was lovely to stroll around and we had lunch at the al fresco wood oven area which is set at the far end of the kitchen garden. We went on the hotel's recommended walk and the countryside was fantastic. We had a Comfy Luxe room with a super comfy bed and the bathroom was enormous with one of the best showers we've experienced. Loads of Bramley products are laid on. Breakfast was delicious with plenty of choice and relaxed and friendly service.
Don't expect to feel disappointed, because you won't be!