Another venture – opened October 2012 – of Robin Hutson, his wife Judy and backer Jim Radcliffe. They are the same team that created THE PIG at Brockenhurst – one of the most acclaimed of recent new hotels. Its description – a ‘Boutique B&B’ – might tempt you to suspect it’s a triumph of form over content – but it’s not.
They’ve made this pleasing Georgian house in the medieval walls of Southampton near Town Quay feel as if it’s always been a happy place to stay. You step off the wide pavement through the front door straight into the downstairs public space – a long sitting room, bar and bistro dining area. It smells pleasantly of wood smoke and herbs, which are grown in pots as table decorations and for the kitchen. Staff behind the bar welcome guests and dispense drinks and snacks; behind them, to view, is the kitchen. At both ends are log fires with guests relaxing in chairs upholstered in smart fabrics that could be in your home. Warm, friendly, relaxed.
Simply decorated connecting corridors lead to the bedrooms. (Shabby-chic distressed floorboards, in keeping with the building, unify the connecting parts.) The cheapest room is artfully shoehorned into the attic. Mid-price and superior rooms are spacious enough – perhaps not especially so, but this is a town house. Colours are soothing browns, whites, greys with splashes of purple velvet.
Within a five-minute walk happen to be three large, impersonal chain hotels of the type where we cannot figure out why anyone would want to stay instead of THE PIG in the Wall. Some of them offer beds for £45 a night, but why throw £45 away on a depressing experience when for not an outrageous amount more you can stay here and feel as if you are yourself?