There could hardly be a more enticing name for a restaurant with rooms. The Pig near Bath hotel is a sister property to a much-squealed-about litter of boutique stays (which started with The Pig) hailing from Hampshire. This third little piggy is a grand and succulent offering from the group: a honey-walled country house set in acres of Somerset deer park, with a bountiful kitchen garden where much of the scrumptious food is grown.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £179.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates do not include the Continental (£11 each) or full English (£16 each) breakfasts.
The hotel have developed their own range of fine wines in collaboration with Rhône winemaker Michel Chapoutier; the Pig Hut label includes three blends: a red, white and rosé. The Georgian house was built in 1820 out of honey-hued Bath stone; there’s a lot of history here. You’ll find portraits of former residents on the walls and pieces of period furniture dotted around the lounges.
At the hotel
Treatment room, lounge, library, DVD library, greenhouse, acres of grounds, kitchen garden, smoke house, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, larder stocked with wine, snacks and sweets, Nespresso coffee machine, tea-making facilities, Bramley toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Spread throughout the main house, barn and gardens, the rooms have a natural feel – wood floors with cream walls, white linens and pops of greens, yellows and pinks on the chairs and cushions. You’ll find no paltry minibar here: the full-size larder is stocked with enough wine, savoury treats and retro sweets for an indulgent bedroom picnic. Rooms in the garden are wonderfully romantic, with their own entrance, a wood-burning stove and a small terrace with two chairs. Big Comfy Luxe room 8, on the barn’s first floor, has a large four-poster bed and a freestanding bath, and overlooks the chicken coop and deer park.
Housed in the potting shed, the spa is the perfect hideaway for a blissful treatment using heavenly-scented, organic Bamford products. The hot- and cold-stone massage is an invigorating take on a favourite, or pick a facial, body polish or mani-pedi.
Leave your wellies at home, there are plenty to borrow. Green-fingered? Equip yourself with small plastic bags to bring home cuttings from the kitchen garden.
Rooms on the ground floor are better suited to mobility-impaired guests. A two night minimum stay is required at weekends.
Welcome. Extra beds (£20 a night) and cots (£10) can be added to some rooms. The hotel can recommend a local babysitting service.
Tables near the front of the greenhouse have lovely views of the surrounding garden. In the summer, ask for a table on the patio to enjoy the sunshine and the appetising aromas coming from the wood-fired oven.
Wellies and Barbours are never out of place at the Pig.
Don’t be fooled by the gleaming counters and bustling stations: the heart of this kitchen is in its gardens, where most of the produce, from tender asparagus to zingy rhubarb, is grown. Head chef Kamil Oseka sources everything within a 25-mile radius: unfussy, seasonal feasts are whipped out from lake-fresh crayfish, smoke-house kippers and foraged wild onion, and served on bare wooden tables in the Victorian greenhouse. Piggy treats star here, of course. It takes a hardened soul to pass on the extraordinary Bath chap, a huge pork joint served with mandatory crackling and apple sauce. But fear not, veggie-lovers: the menu has whole patches of greens to fall back on.
Snag a deep leather sofa by the roaring fire; guests can have drinks and piggy bits (snack-sized odes to all things pork) in any of the cosy sitting rooms. Built around the builder’s bench used during the renovation, the bar serves cocktails and fruity mocktails, best enjoyed by the windows overlooking the estate.
Breakfast is served 7am–10am (7.30am–10.30 am on weekends); lunch 12 noon–2.30pm; dinner 6.30pm–9.30pm. A lighter afternoon menu is available 3.30pm–5.30pm.
Set in acres of woodland and deer park, the Pig – near Bath is in a quiet corner of Somerset, conveniently close to Bath and Bristol.
The nearest airport is Bristol International, about half an hour’s drive from the hotel, which has good connections to UK and European airports. From London Heathrow, the 90-mile drive should take just under two hours.
Bath Spa station is a 20-minute drive from the hotel. The city is fairly well connected with links to destinations across the country; First Great Western runs hourly services between Bath and London Paddington.
A car can be handy to explore the rolling Mendip Hills. The hotel is a short drive from the A36 and the M4; driving from London should take just over two hours.
Worth getting out of bed for
Foodies would be forgiven for never leaving the hotel’s grounds: there’s much to learn from the team’s do-it-yourself, free-range approach. Corner Ollie, the head gardener, in the vegetable patch for top tips on producing prize-worthy peppers, pumpkins and peaches; take a peek in the smokehouse; watch the chickens pecking away happily in the sun. Hands off the pet pigs, though: they’re not for the eating.
Beyond the estate, there’s a picture-perfect patch of countryside to explore: Cheddar Gorge, the Mendip Hills and Leigh Woods, with their startling views of Clifton Suspension Bridge, are all within a 30-minute drive. For more genteel pursuits, Bath’s Georgian streets beckon. TheAssembly Roomsoffer a glimpse of 18th-century fashionable life. Downstairs, the Museum of Costume displays a rotation of beautiful gowns, from shimmering sack-back dresses to that deep-cut J-Lo number. The Roman Baths are off-limits to spa-seekers; head instead to the Thermae Spa, where you can safely experience the therapeutic hot spring waters.
There’s no shortage of cosy country pubs in this Somerset corner. A 10-minute drive away in Chew Magna, the Pony & Trap never disappoints. This Michelin-starred haven’s menu reads like a meat-lover’s dream: smoked bone marrow, local venison and dry-aged beef are paid due respect in tempting daily dishes and pub classics. Loyal locals and visitors carve their names in the log-lined wall at the Carpenter’s Armsin Stanton Wick. Cornish fish, West Country beef and seasonal local game are dished up in comfort food such as battered Pollock with chunky chips and duck confit with bubble and squeak. If you’re visiting Bath, book a table at The Bath Priory in the hills overlooking the city. The tasting menu is a seven-course feast, set in an elegant dining room, starring winning dishes such as Granny Smith apple velouté, loin of lamb with Wye Valley asparagus and blackcurrant soufflé.
Not quite the end of summer, and I needed one more holiday fling – a one-night stand to sate my desire for novelty and wine. Later, spreadeagled and facedown in my snowy-white feather-down pillow at The Pig near Bath, I knew I’d had exactly what I’d wished for.
Rather like the time you spent all night eyeing up the Italian barman only to end up being beautifully ravished by the waiter you’d dismissed as too wholesome, I didn’t at first think The Pig would be the scene of my concupiscence. There’s nothing naughty about The Pig at first sight – it is tasteful, hushed and carefully produced. The staff are all young, good looking and utterly well behaved: it’s like being in a house run by Kate Middleton’s cousins.
The country-house elements are all there, ticked off as if by a set designer for a period drama: gravel drive, Bath stone, oil paintings, countless lit fires, flagstone floors. There is a filmic quality, in that the ‘faux’ touches occasionally surprise: the panels of the billiard room turn out to be trompe-l’œil wallpaper; the walls of the private dining room stained by PG Tips not dramatically thrown goblets of mediaeval wine; the ‘distressed’ mantelpiece has had its corners worn down by sandpaper rather than years of being leaned on by distinguished sirs. At four o’clock in the afternoon the bar had the aroma of gin cocktails, with vintage coloured glasses jostling in the window, refracting the last of the sunshine. If only The Pig could stretch to hiring an actor to sit by the fire as Rowley Birkin QC, its work would be done.
In contrast to the light that floods the ground floor, the bedrooms are as seductively gloomy as you would hope – dark greys and browns in wood, felt and tweed cover the floor, bed and windows. Light switches and telephones are made of bakelite but the Nespresso machine is reassuringly modern, tucked away by the minibar (I speak as someone who recently packed and carried her Nespresso machine, plus frother, on holiday to Ireland). It’s the thoughtful details I like – the sliver of soap instead of a huge bar, the waffle dressing gowns instead of towelling.
But stylish and lovely though this all is, I’ve not yet shown you The Pigs raisons d’être. To see these, you have to step into the kitchen garden. As with every breed of this hotel chainette, the pride and joy is that the head chefs source every bit of the menu (apart, thankfully, from the wine) from within a 25-mile radius, and as much of it as possible comes from their own garden. It is cheering to see the gardeners at work, up ladders, driving quad bikes, skillfully pruning – sometimes all at once. There are paths that lead to nowhere, secluded benches beneath trees and a sunken pool now overgrown with pondweed. And even if you are a hard-bitten townie with carbon monoxide in your veins, you can’t help but enjoy watching the baby deer skip about the park next door. We stole blackberries off a nearby bush and fed the piglets, counted the black hens (46) and marvelled at the baby partridges. And as we admired their prances and snortling, we took no less joy from the fact that we immediately thought about supper. Which, in the country, is just as it should be. For all their special effects in the interior design, the kitchen at The Pig keeps it real.
Parked in front of a blazing fire, we summoned the sommelier, who was from further than 25 miles away, being one of the Middleton’s little-known French relations. He guided us carefully and thoughtfully through the many and varied options of their enormous wine list with vivid descriptions of vineyards, tannins and blackcurrant fruits; he was of course completely incomprehensible and when we asked him to point at something costing roughly £50, we chose that. It was delicious. Despite being a Tuesday night, the hotel was full – hip 30-somethings mainly, but a low beard count, which is a plus in my notepad – and the restaurant filled up even more, which meant that we weren’t able to sit down until 9pm. By this point we had read the menu approximately 48 times and changed our minds about what to eat 47 times. We sat in the ‘authentically reproduced Victorian greenhouse’, and tucked into at least one more course than is strictly recommended.
Consider the trimmings: foraged in the lake, cajoled in the experimental poly-tunnels, smoked to burnished amber in the smokehouse. And, finally, consider the pigs: the very finest local specimens star on the menu in the guise of sausages, crackling and formidable joints. There’s plenty of pig, naturally, but also tender lamb, perfectly pink sirloin, flakey plaice. We ordered sides until the waitress begged us to stop: crispy tobacco onion, fresh steamed greens, even whole salads with heritage tomatoes, nettle pesto and the creamiest goat cheese this side of Heidi’s alpine bothy. I was finished off by a glass of Uruguayan pudding wine (no, me neither, but it's dead good – this being a term of technical appreciation the sommelier taught me) with mint mousse and chocolate ice-cream.
As I said, later, face down on the mattress, I realised I’d had everything I’d asked for.