The Pig at Combe joins esteemed siblings in the New Forest, Southampton, Studland and Bath, and we think the others are going to love their latest family member. Walled kitchen gardens, a foraging philosophy and a regularly changing menu are at the heart of the restaurant, with rolling, horse-studded hills, university towns and the coast at Lyme Bay all on the horizon. The decor is cleverly mismatched, beds are super-size and sublimely comfortable, and inviting velvet armchairs are just waiting to be sunk into. Gardeners will love gaining tips from the grounds, including how many types of mint it’s possible to grow in one patch (answer: 12).
11am. Earliest check-in, 3pm, but flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from $171.85 (£142), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
Rates do not include breakfast (£11 for Continental; £16 for cooked too). Two-night minimum stay at weekends and bank holidays.
The Pig takes its food and drink offering seriously and even the minibars aren’t safe: instead, they’re mini larders, stocked with all the homemade and local treats they could squeeze in, including some English sparkling wine, Otter Bitter beer from the brewery down the road, Devonshire fudge and Willie’s Cacao.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, bikes to borrow, wellies. In rooms: TV, DVD player, Nespresso machine and Bramley bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Even the aptly named Cheap & Cheerful rooms come with a king-size bed and the same artfully mismatched decor for which the group is famous for, but for something unique, it has to be one of the suites: we love the Horsebox for its original stalls separating the bed from the freestanding bath; and the Hayloft for its giant shower head, vaulted ceiling and wooden beams. For the best views over the valley, book Room 1 in the main house. The best-bathroom prize goes to the Laundry, which has circular copper bath tub big enough for two.
There are two Potting Shed treatment rooms in the kitchen garden, where guests can book Bamford massages, facials and other holistic treatments seven days a week.
You can leave your muddy wellies at home as the hotel has some you can borrow – but don’t forget the flat caps, Barbour jackets and riding crops if you fancy going equestrian, inspired by all the Arabian horses.
There are two ground-floor Comfy Rooms that are suitable for wheelchair users and much of the communal areas are navigable for wheelchairs as well. A two night minimum stay is required at weekends.
All ages welcome; travel cots can be added to rooms and babysitting must be requested at least two days in advance and costs £10 an hour (minimum four hours per booking).
Babies and up.
The Family Suite, which has two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Children are welcome in the restaurant, where there’s a dedicated menu, baby-changing facilities and highchairs.
Babysitting must be requested at least two days in advance and costs £10 an hour (minimum four hours per booking).
No need to pack
Travel cots, baby bed linen, highchairs, DVDs, puzzles and books can be borrowed on request.
If there’s a group of you, book out the original Georgian kitchen with its working stove, handily now a private dining room. Otherwise, request the table by the double-height windows to get your fill of rolling Devonshire hills.
With their pink shirts, jeans and Converse, the staff are nailing smart casual – do your best to match them.
The rooms do a lot to vie for your attention, but like with most of the other Pigs, it’s the restaurant that’s at the heart, with the same 25-mile-radius philosophy and menus based on whatever could be caught or picked that morning. Luckily, the sea is only eight miles away, so keep an eye out for the Lyme Bay catch of the day, as well as local cheeses and meat from Honiton’s best butchers. The Folly, in the former orangery, serves flatbreads cooked in a wood-fired oven.
The kitchen garden is fair game for the barmen as well as the chefs; expect the cocktails in the Great Hall Bar – which has all the period features, paintings and panelling to live up to its name – to come with all sorts of horticultural flourishes (fennel-seed vodka, lemon and elderflower juice, or one of the 12 varieties of mint being grown on-site). The Pig Hut wines are also worth a try, made in partnership with a French vintner who really knows his stuff.
Breakfast is served between 7am and 10am; lunch is noon to 2.15pm; dinner is between 6.30pm and 9.30pm. Food is served in the bar from noon until 9pm; drinks are available until 11pm.
The Pig at Combe enjoys a bucolic, British-countryside setting in Devon, a short distance from Exeter and Honiton.
Exeter airport is a 20-minute drive away. The airport is served by Skybus routes from across the UK, including the Isles of Scilly, Manchester and Jersey, as well as flights from European destinations with Flybe.
The closest station is Honiton, three miles away. Great Western runs services to this station from London Paddington and Waterloo via Exeter St David’s.
The hotel is 11 miles away from Exeter; the drive should take 20 minutes. There’s free parking when you arrive.
Half an hour away by car in hilly, sea-washed Lyme Regis is a Hix Oyster & Fish House, serving all the sublime seafood you’d expect but with an especially advantageous setting. Try scallops with Monmouthshire chorizo and samphire, whole dressed crab and mackerel with gremolata, all caught locally. At the Axminster outpost of the River Cottage, feast on more fresh seafood, or go for either the carnivorous (veal burgers, rabbit ragu) or vegetarian options (seared Somerset halloumi, harissa-spiced feta flatbreads) – neither disappoint.
In Honiton, marvel at the miniature madeleines and other expertly baked goods on offer at Toast on the High Street.
The morning breaks bright and clear and we stroll across the gently sloping lawns, explore the fragrant herb garden (12 varieties of mint!) and carefully tended walled nursery patch next to the kitchens (think: Mr McGregor’s garden meets Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons) before elbowing children off the swing seat to settle down and gaze up into the sun dappled branches of the giant cedar tree overhead. A friendly ‘good morning’ from a passing gardener leads to an impromptu tour of the original Georgian kitchen, all copper pots and range stove, available to hire for pretty special private parties. The staff clearly love to work here and can’t wait to show it off, there’s a puppy-like enthusiasm about the place that is instantly infectious.
The coast, eight miles away, beckons. Because we’re townies, and despite the dire weather forecast, we didn’t even think to bring wellies, but never mind, there are some forty pairs of Hunters under the stairs for anyone to borrow. (Note to the Pig: I searched in vain for the staircase with assorted Manolo Blahniks underneath for wearing to dinner…)
We walk along the rain lashed cobb of Lyme Regis, pretending to be in the French Lieutenant’s Wife (excellent, overblown Meryl Streep romantic weepy, set here). Before sharing fish pie and fresh-off-the-boat lobster and chips at Hix Oyster and Fish, the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the cobb and harbour. We take a stroll to walk it all off along the long winding the coastal path.
Back at the hotel before dinner, I dive under Bramley geranium bubbles in the roll top bath – gazing through the diamond-leaded glass at views of tumbling green hills scattered with grazing horses and their foals (from an Arab stud farm next door).
And now for our most important mission: namely, to discover, how much of a pig can one be at the Pig? The menu is a ‘25 mile’ menu – all ingredients come from within 25 miles, and a large proportion from the Pig’s own kitchen garden. The wine list is extensive and more ‘worldwide’ than the Eurovision song contest.
The soda bread is life-changing (enough to convert even this carb-phobic fashionista), with plenty of freshly-churned butter. To start; a dreamy stuffed courgette flower, crisp and creamy, fulfills all my Masterchef fantasies. I order lamb that falls off the bone and Mr Smith orders the infamous tomahawk chop, a joint that indeed resembles a small axe, and was perfectly cooked, with fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. Desserts are heavenly and sophisticated: for me, a raspberry mint sorbet with a dark chocolate tart and Mr Smith has a Middle Eastern pistachio mascarpone with strawberry and basil.
We wake to the last morning of our stay, still full from the night before, but feeling it would be rude to ignore the groaning tables set out for the generous buffet breakfast. There is a poach-your-own eggs station with pretty pale blue eggs from the Pig’s own hens, fresh yoghurts, pastries, garden fruits and homemade granola. Mr Smith, meanwhile, bravely endures a sumptuous, and appropriately named, Piggy breakfast, featuring not just sausages and bacon, but black and white pudding. He claims it’s one of the best he’d ever had.
We say farewell with one of the Pig’s recommended walks through the woods around the house – drinking in the greenery and seeing those magnificent horses up close.
I can’t believe our stay was only for two nights, it felt like a much longer break from the real world. The staff are incredibly lovely; genuinely friendly, and nothing is too much trouble. They clearly love working there, which in turn, makes you love being there.
The Pig at Combe is a truly magical place, and we didn’t want to leave. Relaxed and romantic, homely and luxurious – how do they do that?
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 Combe ’s Guestbook below.
Staff are relaxed and happy and this lends itself to a great atmosphere. Each hotel has the standard Pig formula of high quality surroundings and attention to small details. We always want to book another stay as soon as we leave.
Nightlife – other than civilised chat over drinks.
Stayed on 22 Jul 2019
We loved everything about this hotel – the setting, the beautiful grounds, the delicious food and restaurant, the bedrooms, the bar and the lounges, but most importantly all the wonderful staff who just make everything perfect. THANK YOU.
Stayed on 16 Jul 2019
From the moment you drive down the long entrance you feel you have arrived at a great hotel. Our attic room was very large with a very comfortable super king bed and great views over the Otter valley. Staff were friendly and excellent. We had dinner for the three nights and enjoyed the food; the menu takes a little getting used to as the produce from the amazing kitchen garden is the highlight, with the main ingredient (fish or meat or pasta for example) sometimes needing to be more enjoyable/tasty.
Swimming pool or a luxurious spa. Do expect children!
ByMalcolm K, SilverSmith
Stayed on 7 Jul 2019
Just about everything! The hotel itself, the fantastic food, the lovely and very friendly staff, the absolute silence at night and the relaxed and informal vibe during the day. This was, possibly, the best hotel I've ever stayed in anywhere in the UK. I've found my new base for travels in the south west.
...to not fall in love with The Pig at Combe!
Stayed on 25 Jun 2019
This is a lovely hotel. The building is a mellow Grade 1 listed Manor House with beautiful rooms, high ceilings and real fires providing warmth on a chilly day. It is set in a very picturesque valley full of trees, meadows and wild flowers. Our room (16) was at the front of the house on the first floor. It was large and very comfortable. A bath in the bay window looked out over distant and beautiful views of verdant Devon countryside. Service was professional but delivered with cheerful positivity. Food was in line with other Pig hotels: quite British in style and lots of fresh and local ingredients. Deliciously wholesome rather than outright gourmet but no worse for that. Highly recommended overall.
Style over substance. Also, no gym, tennis and so on.
Stayed on 9 Jun 2019
We loved the decoration of this hotel which is gorgeous, antique, quirky chic with deep sofas arranged around open fires and lots of nooks and crannies to hide away. The staff were, without exception, smiling, attentive and charming making our stay very enjoyable and the spa in the garden gave me one of the best top to toe massages ever.
Gold taps and discotheques.
Stayed on 7 Jun 2019
A great place to escape for peace and relaxation. Fantastic food and amazing staff made the stay really amazing!
Stayed on 4 May 2019
The actual hotel and gardens, especially the kitchen garden growing all the veg and herbs. The food. The service. The staff were excellent. The showers were awesome!
Super modern. Anything too close by.
Stayed on 22 Mar 2019
Such a perfect winter destination. Log fires smoulder in every room, Christmas trees everywhere; it feels like one's very own country pad.
Late night discos, high heel glamour.
Stayed on 13 Dec 2018
We loved everything about The Pig. They say they are a restaurant with rooms, the food was certainly excellent, but the room we had was extremely comfortable. Upon departure, a guided tour of two other rooms in readiness for a return visit was a nice touch.
Stayed on 15 Oct 2018
Beautiful and secluded period setting. Lovely welcome from the staff. The room was very clean with quality complimentary toiletries. Great coffee machine in the room .Good selection at breakfast. Interesting restaurant menu with quality food and presentation. Again the breakfast and restaurant staff were attentive and delightful. Wonderful kitchen garden and grounds to walk around.
Stayed on 8 Oct 2018
The beautiful walks in the local area, the delicious food, the excellent service, the gorgeous interiors...
Stayed on 19 Apr 2018
The wonderful food and warm service. Settling into one of the cosy drawing rooms for a drink before dinner. Taking a long walk in the surrounding countryside. A very relaxing two nights away! The staff even offered to clean our muddy boots when we got back!
Stayed on 23 Feb 2018
The staff were really friendly and attentive without being overbearing. Our room and bathroom were huge and beautifully decorated. The food was also superb, all locally sourced within a 25 mile radius. Would highly recommend the Holt in Honiton (small town nearby) for an alternative eating and drinking location.
Don't expect to want to leave the hotel once you're there! It's so nice!
Stayed on 20 Feb 2018
The team, very attentive and high energy in a relaxed way! Great attention to detail in the room fittings; luxurious. And the locally grown and sourced food was unusual and delicous. Lyme-Regius for spectacular views and the Cob.
Off-road mountain bikes.
Stayed on 4 Feb 2018
The room, the attentive but not over-effusive staff and the number of inter-generational parties staying – grand-parents down to (well-behaved) kids as well as a predominance of couples.
Stayed on 2 Feb 2018
The rooms, the food. Beer beach is lovely, as is Lyme Regis.