Stylist’s editor-in-chief, Lisa Smosarski, relaxes on a luxurious foodie break at The Pig at Bridge Place in Kent.
Eight years after the original Pig hotel opened in the New Forest, the sixth bundle of joy in the litter has just emerged, instantly becoming the destination of choice for food-loving city dwellers looking for a weekend retreat.
The Pig at Bridge Place follows the hotel chain’s trademark DNA: beautifully restored manor house, buzzing restaurant famed for its menu sourced within a 25-mile radius and impeccable yet laidback service (Converse are still in, suits and heels are still out). But despite the formula, this new addition feels as unique and charming as the original did all those years ago.
The new home is Bridge, a village three miles outside of Canterbury, where thatched houses nestle alongside a happily disproportionate number of pubs. The jewel in its crown is a spectacular 17th-century Queen Anne manor house, which has had many lives (a home to gentry, a legendary music venue and a tackysounding club) and has now been transformed into a Pig.
The most recent iteration is warm and homely; a creaky maze of bars, snugs and secret staircases. Board games are piled high and we soon found ourselves cocooned next to a huge open fire tucking into the now-famous piggy bits and one of the 30 delicious gins on the menu.
As a self-coined restaurant with rooms, The Pig is focused on feasting, but the bedrooms have received just as much love as the menu.
We stayed in a Pig Lodge, a two-bedroom selfcatering country cottage. Interiors are cosy with modern twists – wood-burning stove, electric bakelite kettle and a free-standing rolltop bath. The 29 rooms include the self-catering lodges, main-house rooms and suites (with mezzanine-level bathrooms and exceptional views) and Hop Picker Huts – cabins on stilts, accessed via a boardwalk in the water meadows.
But The Coach House restaurant is the hotel’s beating heart. It fuses the feel of a rustic garden pantry with a bustling open kitchen and design elements like art deco windows salvaged from Quo Vadis. But the food is the real star. I devoured a silky potato and lovage soup, Folkestone hake and an insanely good apple tart, all washed down with sparkling wine from local vineyard Simpsons. Despite vowing to never eat again, I found room the next morning for the breakfast of dreams: granola, coconut yoghurt and poached eggs on sourdough.
After all that food I needed to explore. Efforts required vary, from collecting eggs from the chicken run and playing on the huge oak-tree swing to a country bike ride (wellies and bicycles are at your disposal). But I decided to make the most of the enviable location – Deal, Whitstable and Margate are all 30-45 minutes’ drive away – and took a trip to seafood capital Whitstable.
After a bracing seafront walk I found myself eating again: fresh oysters shucked by the harbour; an amuse-bouche for round two back at The Pig.
A visit to any Pig hotel is about escaping fraught city living through the joy of food and the pace of country life. The Pig at Bridge Place ensures we’ll all be escaping on a far more regular basis.
Rooms from £110; Pig Lodge 1 from £315 a night, breakfast not included; thepighotel.com
Images: courtesy of The Pig