This weekend my boyfriend and I went to stay at The Pig in The New Forest. Having booked back in February and been told that I’d taken the last available room in July - apparently they are now fully booked every weekend until February 2013 - I had high expectations.
The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful. Standing proud at the end of a beautiful driveway surrounded by lush greenery and forestland, first impressions were good, even in the torrential rain, that wouldn’t stop – the whole weekend.
We had booked a ‘Comfy’ room at £175 a night (not including breakfast), not cheap but after looking at the images on the hotel website I was confident it would be worth it. We were shown up to our room by the very pleasant receptionist, and it turned out to be bright and reasonably sized with 2 armchairs at the foot of a very large and comfortable bed. Big windows looked out over the front of the hotel and to the forest beyond. My only problem was that the bathroom was absolutely TINY. When I say tiny, I really do mean it. A large shower took up half of the room leaving just enough space for me to sidle in and brush my teeth. A little disappointing but not enough to put a real dampener on things (appropriate choice of wording).
Time to explore the hotel, a beautifully designed mixture of Farrow & Ball, lovely old parquet floors, fireplaces and antique glasses. Having said that, the exploration didn’t take long as there were only 4 rooms available to the public. The billiards/snooker (what’s the difference?) room also doubles up as their private dining room – I think the table flips over to make a dining table. This meant that the room was out of bounds for us both nights we stayed there which was a real shame as we’d been looking forward to an after dinner game or two. I don’t think they should make it look like it’s a permanent feature if it’s not. There was a real lack of things to do in the hotel and as it rained constantly we found ourselves a little bored on one or two occasions. They did have a good selection of board games available though, so I had to resort to thrashing my boyfriend at Scrabble, but even that became wearing in the end...
On to dinner and I have to say it was delicious. However, the menu stayed the same both nights and as there’s a minimum two night stay policy over the weekend I think they should offer daily specials so there is a little variation for guests. On the first night we didn’t have starters but opted for the rib of beef for two accompanied by roast potatoes and roasted shallots costing £58. We shared a bottle of red, two cocktails and a cheeseboard. The bill came to £140 which isn't exactly cheap, but it was delicious. A little more variety to the menu would have been nice though as I was struggling to find something I fancied on the second night.
On Friday and Saturday evenings the hotel restaurant gets really busy with non-hotel guests and after dinner on Saturday it became so packed we couldn’t find anywhere to sit in the lounges. One of the waitresses directed us to two tiny/low seats pushed right up against a wall, so low I was struggling to keep control of my skirt and stop it from riding-up... I felt really sorry for the couple opposite me! The final straw came when we saw the waitress shift two hotel guests from their sofa to make way for a party of four who weren’t staying at the hotel, it irked us somewhat (and the other hotel guests) and we decided sitting in our room was a better option. Not really how we’d envisaged our Saturday night there.
I’ll quickly mention breakfast and then end with a couple more positives to even it out. Breakfast is taken in the same room as dinner, a large airy conservatory overlooking the hotel grounds. The floor is divine, lots of multi-coloured, mismatching ceramic tiles – I was tempted to get out my crowbar when no-one was looking. Breakfast, which as I said earlier isn’t included in the price of the room, is very, very expensive. We ordered eggs on toast and a sausage sandwich with a pot of coffee and it came to £20 plus service. Extortionate. I pay a lot less on a Sunday morning in the East End than I did there. And it wasn’t even that nice, frankly the coffee was too strong to drink and there were granules floating on the top! Also, is it right to add a 20% service charge on top of breakfast in a hotel???
Finally, on to the better parts I mentioned. On the Sunday morning we left, the sun had finally come out – obviously. So we decided to take a morning stroll in the garden. We discovered the kitchen garden and how absolutely stunning it was. Hundreds of different varieties of carefully tended fruit and veg inside a beautifully kept walled garden. There was also the most gorgeous greenhouse with those beautiful floor tiles from the dining room. Little Alice In Wonderland style signs hang on the doors offering you to take a look inside, a lovely touch.
There’s a lovely little wood cabin called 'The Potting Shed' sitting on the edge of a large pond reached by a wooden bridge stretching across it. The hotel offers a choice of five different massages that you can have in there, Friday - Sunday. It looked so tranquil, I was so disappointed my boyfriend didn’t buy me a massage while I was there, I can’t believe him, he’s so selfish. There were also a large selection of mountain bikes and a very well maintained tennis court. None of which we could enjoy.
On a final note, The Pig in Brockenhurst looks absolutely beautiful inside and out. It feels like you’re in a private members club in London (although whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen). A lot of time and care has gone into the design and decor and I can’t speak highly enough of the gardens. However, there’s something missing. Although all the staff were charming and very helpful, they need to provide something more for the hotel guests and not primarily cater for the restaurant guests. For the price you pay for a room there should be more available such as a full time billiards/snooker room. Upon checkout our bill for two nights came to £700 and I have to say we left with a bit of a damp spirit (as well as damp clothes).