Set on cliffs overlooking the gorgeous curve of Studland Bay in Dorset, across the water from Poole and Sandbanks, the Pig – on the Beach perches alongside the National Trust-managed coastal path in a picturesque countryside hamlet.
Bournemouth airport is just under an hour's drive away.
A train from central London takes around two hours. The closest station is Wareham, on South West Trains' London Waterloo–Weymouth line, about 20 minutes' drive from the hotel; it has connections to Poole, Southampton, Sussex, Wales and beyond.
If you’re staying longer than a night or two, a car’s handy for exploring. Less than three hours from London, the Studland Bay peninsula is best reached via the car ferry across the mouth of Poole harbour. In summer, roads can become congested with holidaymakers, but it's worth the effort. There's a free on-site car park for hotel guests.
The Bramble Bush Bay chain ferry (aka the Sandbanks ferry: www.sandbanksferry.co.uk) will save you 25 minutes of driving between Bournemouth and Swanage: it normally runs daily, every 20 minutes, between 7am and 11pm, but check the website for updates.
Worth getting out of bed for
The Isle of Purbeck is packed with rambling roads, clifftop coastal walks, pretty beaches, back-to-nature adventures and postcard-perfect villages. Poole, Swanage, Bournemouth and scenic spots such as Corfe Castle and Lulworth Cove are all within reasonable striking distance in this picturesque patch of Dorset.
Potter among the herbs and veg in the kitchen potager; stop to chat with head gardener Jo Faulks and, if you're nice, she might even give you a cutting or two. A few minutes’ walk leads you down to Middle Beach, a strip of pale sand that arcs along eastwards to Studland Head (around an hour’s walk, if you’re wondering). There’s a basic café for drinks and snacks and a little kayaking and kite-surfing centre. On Knoll Beach, there's windsurfing, sailing, waterskiing and more; horse-riding on the beach can be arranged nearby.
After you've checked out the Saxon ruins, peek into the cute Ginger Pop Shop at Corfe Castle for Enid Blyton memorabilia, clockwork toys and lashings of ginger beer.
Studland Beach Second World War walk is English Heritage listed, managed by the National Trust and just at the end of the Pig’s garden path. Visit Fort Henry, and stand inside the bleak bunker where Winston Churchill, Dwight D Eisenhower, King George VI, Field Marshal Montgomery and Louis Mountbatten watched the largest ever live-ammunition practice of World War II. The view is both stirring and spectacular, as you imagine troops rehearsing the D-Day landings, where now only abundant wildlife, day-trippers – and a few naturists – arrive on the beaches. Well worth the brief detour on your way down to the shore, or before you take the South West Coast Path from Studland Village to Old Harry Rocks: a 6km circular walk with spectacular views, at the start of the Jurassic Coast and the Purbeck Way.
The 16th-century Bankes Arms inn is a five-minute walk from the hotel, where you can wash down hearty portions of food – Poole Bay crab, New Forest game casserole and a hits-the-spot Ploughman's lunch – with a pint of locally brewed ale. Head into Swanage for more culinary choices. On the Old Stone Quay, simple seafood café Gee Whites dishes up local shellfish and fresh catches: order plump Portland oysters, whelks, local crab and lobster, and finish with a home-made ice-cream. Cash only. For a relaxed but delicious dinner, book a table at Chilled Red, a restaurant on Commercial Road that uses the region's best produce to whip up Eurocentric menus; don't miss the Dorset cheese plate.
Beyond Swanage, in a picture-postcard village, you can have the perfect Dorset cream tea with hot-from-the-oven scones, served on vintage china, at the dinky little Worth Matravers Tea & Supper Room. The lunch and supper menus are very tasty, too.