In its earlier incarnations, we thought this place useful only as a benchmark for the sort of establishment we didn’t want in the guide – it was one of hundreds of nothing-special, quite old-fashioned country house hotels. But now that Robin Hutson, creator of the Hotel du Vin chain and one of Britain’s most inspired hoteliers, has practised his magic on the place, the result is hard to ignore. In fact, following its opening in late 2011 it has been booked almost solidly.
Robin Hutson’s wife Judy did the interior. It’s quite a contrast to the controlled, Georgian exterior: a set piece of shabby-chic with touches of anarchy. The conservatory-dining room is the big draw: an imaginative, light-filled space, with a wonderful tiled floor, pots of herbs on wooden boxes lining the outside windows, and on every rustic table; comfortable chairs and spot-on colour scheme of sludgy greens and chalk-greys. Over the corridor in the drawing room shabby-chic reasserts itself even more emphatically. The floor boards are distressed, and ‘damaged’ plasterwork on the walls reveals areas of brickwork beneath – only it’s not damaged, it’s trompe l’oeil. The bedrooms are countrified and truly comfortable.
Don’t leave without a stroll through the walled kitchen garden, where they grow some, but not all of what’s eaten in the dining room. It’s a design triumph in its own right.
We’d much prefer that breakfast was quoted in the room price, instead of starting at £10 extra per person, but still, for the money charged The Pig is exceptional value, in fact it could set a new standard in the mid-price country hotel scene.