A Georgian townhouse and former pub, The Pig in the Wall is a charming stay for anyone who needs to be in or around Southampton, the closest city to the New Forest. A boutique hotel with a rustic soul right in the mediaeval city walls, near to the cruise terminals on Southampton Water, this little sister to the celebrated restaurant with rooms in the New Forest has a corking deli counter that would make its porcine country-house sibling proud.
Get this when you book through us:
One bottle of Pig Cut wine, £50 half-day access to Lime Wood's spa when booking a 60-minute treatment each (please note, due to Covid-19 precautions the spa is currently closed), and three-course lunch at Lime Wood for £21.50
Double rooms from £147.87, including tax at 5 per cent.
Buffet breakfast is extra and costs from £10.
The original Pig Hotel isn't too far from this one – if you have a set of wheels with you it's just a 35-minute drive away, and worth the effort to dine in its excellent restaurant. It's very popular, so be sure to make dinner reservations when you book your stay at The Pig in the Wall.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, pantry-style minibar with local sweets and snacks, and Bramley products.
Our favourite rooms
Up some steep, narrow stairs the lowest-category Attic Snug has a double bed tucked into the beamed eaves. Of the double rooms in the Comfy category, rooms 3 and 5 on the first floor are especially sweet. Rooms 6 and 7 are extra stylish with freestanding roll-top baths and king-size beds; room 4 is the third Spacious room, with an original fireplace and exposed beams.
Slippers for the rough floorboards. And, any RMS Titanic obsessions: this is where the cruise liner set sail from on 10 April 1912.
Ground-floor bedrooms are better for guests who are less mobile; those who are hearing impaired can request a vibrating pillow that alerts you in case of an emergency. Pets are not allowed.
Some rooms can fit a baby cot (£10 a night) or an extra bed (£20 a night for under-12s), on request only. The Spacious rooms are best suited to families. Highchairs are available, but no amenities provided specifically geared at kids.
You can’t book, and there are only a few snug tables, but a perch by a window or fireside is probably cutest.
Anywhere between cruise-liner chic and pig farmer should make the cut.
This little Pig doesn’t have a cocktail lounge or dining room like its New Forest outpost, but there is a great deli counter and cosy pub-style seating. Fans of the signature ‘piggy bits’ (mmm, sausages and pork scratchings) can get their fix here, although charcuterie and cheese boards are the stars of the show. (It’s worth noting that the spread of food is tidied away quite early). Breakfast is a particularly photogenic DIY affair of winning home-made granola, home-baked flapjacks, miniature pastries, cold meats and boil-your-own eggs.
Celebrate with a Forager's Fizz (sparkling wine and elderflower cordial) or a Rhubarb Bellini. Or go for a pint of Piddle: zingy amber-coloured beer from the Dorset Brewery.
Eat and drink café style, 8am–7pm; ask nicely and they might rustle you up something more substantial later although it’s not guaranteed; drinks available until 11pm.
Since each room has a Nespresso machine and tea/coffee facilities within the larders, fix a snacky feast yourselves. Or just order from the deli and take up your treats such as James Goldings’ karma ham or pork scratchings.
Located near to the Southampton Ferry Terminal and the city centre, the Pig in the Wall is next to the big black building that is the, ahem, less-than-charming De Vere Grand Harbour hotel.
Southampton Airport is about 25 minutes away by taxi, and this connects to destinations throughout Europe.
Southampton train station is very close; hop on the free CityLink shuttle bus that heads towards the ferry terminals. It operates every 15 minutes between the station and Town Quay and takes about 10 minutes. Beware if you head there on foot: you could get lost in a hinterland of shopping centre car parking.
Driving to the hotel is easy – if you’re coming from the M3 and then the M27, follow the signs for the ferry docks. Just after Ikea there’s a large roundabout; turn left after the behemoth that is the De Vere Grand Harbour hotel and the Pig in the Wall is set into the grey stone wall: buzz to be let into the hotel’s gated residents-only car park; this costs £10 a day.
Southampton Ferry Terminal is on the hotel’s doorstep with lots of boat connections to the Isle of Wight. Drive onto the Red Funnel ferry to East Cowes or hop on the Red Jet high-speed passenger ferry to Ryde.
Worth getting out of bed for
Southampton may not be your quintessential romantic-weekend destination, but if you need to spend time with local friends or family, or if a night or two ties in with a cruise or visiting the Isle of Wight, The Pig in the Wall is a stylish home from home that definitely allows you to enjoy the very best of this coastal city. History buffs will be impressed at being set right in the third longest uninterrupted stretch of mediaeval defensive walling in Great Britain: just follow the signposts for the wall walk and see buildings that date from 1180. The 15th-century Tudor House around the corner is the real timber-beamed deal with an interesting museum and calendar of events. WestQuay Shopping Centre is on its doorstep, as well as the likes of mega-stores John Lewis and Ikea, so there’s all-you-could-need high-street-shopping convenience if not cutting-edge boutique chic. For cinema screens and other recreational facilities, head to Ocean Village, the nearby action-packed marina. Book tickets for the Mayflower Theatre to see musical, opera and ballet performances. SeaCity Museum has made waves for its impressive Titanic exhibition which opened to mark the centenary of the ship's departure from Southampton. The Motor Museum in Beaulieu cannot be beaten for vintage-car displays. Catch a ferry from across the street to the Isle of Wight. Drive onto the Red Funnel to get to East Cowes or hop on the Red Jet high-speed passenger ferry and rock up at Ryde.
Seek out the mock mini Indian-pavillion-inspired exterior near Southampton Docks: the curries at Kuti’s are legion and authentically delicious. Make sure for at least one dinner you drive over to big sis, The Pig, half an hour away. The original restaurant with rooms from the litter, it is an exemplum of the plot-to-plate schtick, with most of the menu sourced within a 25-mile radius from forest to sea and with a forager and kitchen gardener happily in cahoots with chef James Golding.
‘Southampton, you say? How divine – a weekend on Long Island living the high falutin’ life of the Great Gatsby. Wait: Southampton, England? For a weekend break? But we don’t have a cruise ship to catch.’
‘Ah, but did you know that a stretch of defensive wall dating back to mediaeval times survived here, the longest in fact in the UK?
‘Or that there are perfectly preserved Tudor buildings right in its centre, and it was on these streets that they filmed Foyle’s War?’
So went my conversation with Mr Smith.
‘Um. This is Southampton, home of Jesters nightclub, and until recently, the Ford Transit van, that we’re talking about?’
‘Yes, yes. We’re going to an outpost of the Pig right in the ancient stone wall by Westgate through which Henry V’s troops marched on their way to Agincourt. It’s from here that the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from in 1620, and HMS Titanic was launched.’
‘What’s that about a pig?’ piped up our five-year-old.
We both blanched. Was she suggesting another visit to Peppa Pig World? (Which would have been astute since it is indeed nearby.) Dad quickly explained that we were off to stay somewhere called the Pig in the Wall.
This diminutive addition to Robin Hutson’s Lime Wood-boasting portfolio is right by the ferry terminals. We’ve passed it many times as we swerve in to catch the Red Funnel en route to visit the in-laws on the Isle of Wight. But this boutique hotel’s charm has previously been upstaged by the blue box that is Ikea a few hundred metres before and eclipsed by the neighbouring De Vere behemoth. How did we miss this Georgian cutie?
Once a private home, this 12-room Pig is spliced with what was the city’s first pub, the Royal Standard. Step foot into its cosy wooden-floored reception room and it may surprise you that this is the sum of its public space. But with a bar piled with delicious home-baked snacks in bell jars and worn leather chairs and tables with terracotta pots of herbs beckoning you to relax by the open fire, who would want to hang anywhere else? Judy Hutson could teach lessons in this brand of shabby chic in all its stuffed animals, stacked crates, crockery-filled cabinets and mishmashed furniture glory.
Our bedroom wasn’t any less delightful. We’d opted for a Spacious Room and we got a four-poster bed (but not the naff chintzy canopied kind) and a sunken ensuite with a rolltop bath as well as a walk-in shower – ensuring about as much wow as an inn can provide. Bathroom prudes might mutter ‘wow’ with a furrowed brow when they see that standalone tub but for this pair and their little piglet this sage-tiled Bramley-stocked enclave was perfectly dreamy.
Retro alarm clock and Roberts radio, Nespresso machine, goosedown bedding – it’s got all the attention to detail that won its bigger sibling in the New Forest hideaway such acclaim. The flavours at this boutique oinker are a big part of the appeal the snack-packed in-room larders mean you can happily sequester yourself away with that huge TV. Having heard that there’s a free transfer to the Brockenhurst bolthole for dinner we’d booked ahead and took them up on the offer. Southampton city centre itself may not be the most picturesque destination on the South Coast, you’re so close to glorious grounds and knock-out views you don’t mind having to stray to get them and we hopped into the house Jeep for the half-an-hour drive into Hampshire’s celebrated countryside.
Pulling up at the country manor house, we had just enough time for a whirl around the kitchen garden, a doff of our caps to the smokehouse and fruit cages and a quick look at a few of their real-life pigs in their field before supper. ‘Will we be eating him?’ trilled our five-year-old pointing to the plump Gloucester Old Spot. The food is fresh, local and seasonal but not quite that brutal. Our farm-to-fork dinner was a porcine celebration (although perhaps not from the porkers’ perspectives) that kicked off with hammy Brock eggs, and saddleback scratchings with apple sauce finale’d by a porkless pistachio-topped green tea sponge and white chocolate sandwich. I could sit in that conservatory with its pretty multi-coloured floor tiles for ages surrounded by food-loving locavores muttering appreciatively about the ingredients, the presentation and how impressed they are that the chef, gardener and forager are all in cahoots.
Fast forward to the next scene and you’ll find these protagonists troughing again – this time back at our guesthouse for breakfast. We boiled our own eggs, drank too much coffee and then hit Southampton for an explore. Now, I don’t know if you know Southampton – but navigating our way straight from the hotel to the pedestrianised enclave of Oxford Street took through the Old Town was a world away from the city I remembered visiting friends who were at university here. The 800-year-old Tudor House and its garden gives Stratford a run for its culture. The service and fresh pasta we then enjoyed at Olive Tree rivalled the friendliness and flavours of bygone Italian holidays. I’d like to see Gatsby’s old stamping ground try and rustle up all that on his New York turf. And even this Scott Fitzgerald reference is trumped when we learned Jane Austen was a Sotonian.
So it turns out Southampton, a whiz down on the train from Waterloo, has a rustic inn as sweet looking as a bolt hole can be, with a story to tell. And The Pig – in the Wall is only a trot from the bustling waterfront, poised perfectly for cruise-goers before or after a luxury-liner escape or anyone planning on taking a ferry to the Isle of Wight. And that’s nothing to turn your snout up at.