Do we hear the patter of tiny trotters? Why yes…the perennially popular Pig hotels are welcoming a new Cornish stay into their litter. Set by the beach, close to upmarket Padstow, the Pig at Harlyn Bay is a 15th-century country manor whose interiors have been given a breath of fresh salty air: a velvety sofa or two here, a few vintage trinkets there, a dramatic lick of paint and plenty of maritime paintings. Carved four-posters and standalone bath tubs make their way into most rooms, but the cosy garden wagons win our vote for their kitchen-garden seclusion. Home-grown and hyper-local is still the food focus here, and there’s a terrace for fresh lobster and ice-cream sundaes, plus Cornwall’s finest distillers, cideries and brewers prop up the bar. We tell no porky pies – this Pig has us squealing with joy.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from $282.64 (£205), including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates don’t usually include the à la carte breakfast, with items such as bacon and sausage sourdough sandwiches, eggs Benny, porridge and honey, kippers and a wholly local full English. A two-night minimum stay is required on a Friday or Saturday.
The hotel may be around 600 years old, but the Hutson’s are one of just three families who have owned the house through the years. As you nose around the place, you’ll notice original Medieval, Jacobean and Georgian design features.
At the hotel
Spa, kitchen garden, lounges and snugs, free WiFi. In rooms: TV, larder stocked with locally sourced drinks and snacks, coffee- and tea-making kit, air-conditioning and Bramley bath products.
Our favourite rooms
For more of a Beatrix Potter feel, book one of the Garden Wagons, to be immersed in the greenery of the kitchen garden. These offer more than a ‘glamping’ experience – with beds a six-footer can stretch out on, a log-burner and freestanding bath tub – plus a ‘sun’s out, bums out’ alfresco shower – they’re every bit as luxurious as the main hotel’s rooms. The Lookout Rooms are petite, but give good view – all the way down to Harlyn Bay and the headland.
At the bottom of the kitchen garden, by wild flower beds, you’ll find the two Potting Shed spa cabins. The Voya and Bamford products used are organic and all natural (so much so the Soil Association has given them the thumbs up), and there are some garden botanicals thrown in for good measure. These are used in candlelit bespoke massages, seaweed and spiced-mud wraps, glow-coaxing facials and sugar scrubs. The spa is for over-18s only.
Hunter wellies, lined up by the front door, are for the borrowing, so no need to bring those. Although trainers will come in handy for country walks. Bring a deck of cards for long lazy games in the lounge, too.
Aside from some windy country paths, the hotel is wheelchair accessible. Two Comfy Terrace rooms have plenty of space and a roll-in bathroom.
Children are welcome; the stay’s best suited to juniors, tweens and teens. The Stonehouse has some interconnecting rooms, and in the restaurant there are highchairs and baby-changing facilities – staff will heat baby food and milk on request too.
The Pig hotels’ commitment to homegrown, garden-gathered produce – and a 25-mile radius for pretty much all ingredients sourced – is well documented and passionately put into practice. They have a team of foragers too, and work with local producers where possible. And, for every lobster sold at the Lobster Shed, they’ll donate £1 to the National Lobster Hatchery’s ‘buy one, set one free’ campaign. The hotel’s newsletter In the Grow addresses wider industry concerns and the staff duly recycle and compost. They work to the Sustainable Restaurant Association guidelines and only purchase fish approved by the Marine Conservation Society. They stock Belu water, too, from which all profits go to Water Aid. And they make their own honey and smoke their own meat onsite.
If sunny, pick a picnic bench on the Lobster Shed’s Terrace, one with an eyeful of sea, for fresh salty air and tantalising grills.
Windblown or well-heeled, pretty much anything goes here.
The Pig hotels have an esteemed reputation for their green-fingered talents, and this outpost is no exception. The resident gardeners have coaxed all manner of ingredients from the kitchen garden, greenhouse and polytunnel (spinach, French beans, runner beans, salad onions, peas, beetroot, herbs and fresh salad are all on the grow); foragers scour the local woods and hedgerows for mushrooms, berries and such; and anything that can’t be grown in-house is sourced within a 25-mile radius from local farms, fisheries and artisans. There are hyper-local cheeses, just-butchered free-range meats and even Cornish saffron (it’s delicious in the Pig’s buns and cakes). The dining room is charmingly old-school, with wood panelling, a glorious stucco ceiling with curlicues and a ceiling rose, and there’s a piggy art piece hanging over the fireplace. Plus the hotel has a scullery and smokery – all the better for richly flavouring salmon and meats. Or, take your feast alfresco on the Lobster Shed terrace, where you can gaze out over the sea while you dine. Menus for both are dictated by the season, so shift accordingly, but you might have Tamworth belly bacon, Cornish sardines, barbecued Padstow lobster, Fowey duck, Porthilly oysters and fresh thoughtful veggie dishes. Then polish the whole thing off with a tall ice-cream sundae.
Drinks at the dandyish, Victorian-floral-draped bar are also informed by the kitchen garden. Chase Distillery vodkas are infused with various fruit, veg and botanicals (rosemary, thyme, basil, horseradish, sorrel, lemongrass, cucumber, strawberry, geranium…), and garnishes are freshly plucked. Cornwall’s finest tipples are well represented too: there’s lashings of Trevethan, Tarquins and Wrecking Coast gin (try the clotted-cream gin); ales from Harbour, Padstow and Atlantic Breweries; Caspyn’s cocktail blends; and Haywood Farm Cider. And the Pig flies the flag for sparkling British wines – try a frosted glass of Camel Valley’s pinot noir rosé brut.
Breakfast runs from 7am to 10am. Lunch in the main restaurant is from 12 noon to 2.30pm, dinner from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The Lobster Shed terrace, depending on the weather, is open from 12 noon to 9pm.
The Pig at Harlyn Bay is a 10-minute drive from lively Cornish town Padstow, set steps from the golden sands and surfable waters of Harlyn Bay and the Constantine Bay beaches.
Newquay Airport is the closest to the Pig, around a 25-minute drive away. Direct flights arrive here from other parts of the UK, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Portugal and Spain. The flight from London Heathrow is an hour. If you’re driving, the hotel’s a four-hour drive from both Heathrow and Gatwick.
The closest station to the hotel is Bodmin Parkway, 20 miles away. Trains run direct from London Paddington (around a four-hour journey). The Night Riviera sleeper stops here if you want a more restful trip down.
To reach the hotel by car, arrive via the A30, A389 or A39 roads. Head towards Weybridge, follow signs for Padstow, and then keep your eyes peeled for Harlyn Bay signs. From there, cross a narrow bridge, go up the hill, turn right – then the Pig will be right ahead of you.
Worth getting out of bed for
At the hotel you could pootle over to the one of the Potting Shed spa cabins, read a book by the fire in the lounge or enjoy a drink on the terrace. In summer months, Harlyn Bay is safe for swimming, or you could bag a board and hit the surf. The Pig has teamed up with Harlyn Surf School and George’s Surf School – both hotspots for the region’s best wave-riders – to provide private lessons. And paddleboarding, coasteering and kayaking are other ways to play at sea. To the west, Constantine Bay has rock pools to explore and golden sands to stretch out on. But, this is one of Cornwall’s most beautiful regions, so you’ll want to strap on some comfy shoes and seek out mighty sea stacks, gorse-shrouded hills, thickly wooded stretches and glinting hidden coves. The northern leg of the South West Coast Path passes through Padstow, so you can tackle as much of that as possible in a day, or rent a bike and pedal along the Camel Trail to Bodmin. While there, stop by Bodmin Nursery to smell the daisies, buy some herbs and admire the flourishing flora. Download the ‘iWalk Cornwall’ app to find a route that suits you. Padstow is just a 10-minute drive from the Pig, and from there you’re a stone’s skim across the water from Poldark-star village Polzeath and Rock – the Chelsea of Cornwall – where you’ll need a bit more spare change for your fish supper. In Padstow you can hire a boat for puffin and dolphin spotting, or – if you feel a little guilty about chowing down on all that crustacea – adopt a lobster in the National Lobster Hatchery. And if the Pig’s array of local tipples has you hooked, take a tasting tour of Camel Valley vineyard.
The hotel restaurant will keep you in come dinnertime, but nearby Padstow has been built up on the reputation of the star chefs who’ve set up restaurants there. So, it’s worth scoping out. Rick Stein practically owns the whole place – indeed, it’s been dubbed ‘PadStein’ – with a seafood restaurant, bistro, café, fish-and-chip shop and gastropub to his name – plus a seafood cookery school. It’s worth acquainting yourself with at least one. And you’ll experience the clout of another celeb chef at Paul Ainsworth at Number 6, where dishes are deliciously daring, such as the goose liver with carrot ketchup or the Silcilian pistachio sponge with Caramac sauce. He also owns the Mariners pub in ritzy village Rock, which has a hearty, more down-to-Earth menu. Padstow’s Prawn on the Lawn, originally a London-based eatery heeded the siren call of the sea, and do superb things with her bounty: deep-fried oysters with garlicky crème fraîche, sherry-splashed mussels, hake in a porcini crumb. And, Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, in nearby Port Isaac, has strong ties with the local fishermen and they dictate what’ll be on the menu that day.
The mountainous meringues and buttercream-slathered offerings behind the counter at Cherry Trees mark them out as the place to stop for a cream tea – and it’s a good ‘un – but they also do full-to-bursting pasties and hearty brunches. And, the Rest a While Tea Garden feels like being round a mate’s house – largely because it’s the terrace of a residential home overlooking the beach, where scones are served fresh from the oven.
In Padstow, BinTwo wine shop has a petite terrace where you can pair something fruity with dressed crab and Cornish charcuterie – the Rising Ground Coffee Company bean blends are an aromatic treat too. Another Stein outpost Ruby’s Bar has an engaging cocktail list: try the Porthleven Bramble with blackberry gin and elderflower liqueur, or the Appleflower bellini with prosecco, passionfruit syrup and passiflora tea.
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 sty-lish boutique hotel in Cornwall and unpacked their wet suits and inflatables, a full account of their breezy beachside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Pig at Harlyn Bay…
We’re not sure if fiendishly clever hotelier Robin Hutson was a fan of Charlotte’s Web as a young ‘un, but he’s spun more positive PR for pigs than Charlotte herself ever could. The Pig at Harlyn Bay is the latest in his string of porcine paradises, this time set in a divine slice of Cornish countryside, mere steps from the dunes and turquoise waters of Harlyn Bay. In keeping with the Pigs’ signature nonchalant chic, the interiors are filled with crackling leather sofas and lovingly worn wingbacks, taxidermy and heirloom trinkets, carved four-posters and standalone bath tubs – courtesy of Robin’s design-whizz wife Judy. The blooming kitchen garden and 25-mile menu are present and correct; however, the seaside setting strikes a chord here in the dark-and-stormy palette of blues and greys, and maritime artwork, one even painted in situ to evoke the right mood. And there’s more to distinguish this already very distinguished stay: garden wagons that bump glamping up a few notches, a dining room with a gloriously stuccoed ceiling, and an outdoor terrace dubbed the Lobster Shed, where a combo of lobster, thrice-cooked chips and Camel Valley pinot noir rosé brut is followed by a towering knickerbocker glory. Upmarket Padstow lies close by for fine-dining, pasties and pubs, while the northern branch of the South West Coast Path and Constantine Bay’s beaches show off Cornwall’s natural assets. But when it’s time for Piggies to come all the way home, there’ll be drinks by the fireside – say, Trevethan Gin mixed with home-grown botanicals, or Haywood Farm Cider – and a soft slumbersome bed. Some Pig? Charlotte would need a week’s worth of webbing to sing this Pig’s praises.