Muddy checks in and chills out at The Pig
Team Piggy are mega fussy about where they choose to expand their litter. With just five hotels across southern England, each one a spoiling country house (apart from the city version in Southampton), it takes time to find somewhere with just the right balance of quirkiness and luxury. So we are seriously spoilt to have the latest addition, a 3o bedroom stunner, in Devon. I snuffled my way through a private dining session there earlier in the year and now I’ve just returned from a birthday treat where, this time we bedded down for the night. It’s hands-down my current favourite place to stay. Wanna know why? Oh go on, then.
Located in picture-perfect thatch-roofed Gittisham in East Devon, not too far off the A30, and just a mile or two from Honiton, if you arrive in daylight, you’ll spot this honey-coloured Elizabethan beauty in the distance as you approach the village. You practically need a sat nav, just to get you up the massive drive, weaving and winding through acres of countryside…3,500 to be precise. It’s secluded from the rest of the world and feels exclusive without any hint of pretentiousness, a timelessly elegant building on the outside, unmistakably Piggish on the inside. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, expect plush, stylish, quirky and fun with a capital ‘f’.
It can feel as though you’re the only people to arrive here when you first rock up in the peaceful countryside; then heave open the ancient door and you’re straight into the bar, greeted by a quiet buzz.
It’s glam, with a bar that’s as grand as it is cosy and several sitting rooms for you to pick a spot to lounge.
The furniture is nicely mismatched and you’ll spot several fun piggy references, from the enormous snout staring down from above the fireplace, to the trough on the bar-top full of bottles on ice. Super-friendly staff (lots of them) to take care of you and slick service, too.
Where do I start? Since it was a special occasion, we managed to snaffle one of the suites, the Hayloft, which is set apart from the main building in the stable yard.
You take a short stroll outside via the walled gardens, vegetable, herb and infusion gardens, past the Potting Shed (a secluded treatment room) and through an archway, into a courtyard to get to your room. How many varieties of mint do you think we caught a whiff of, en route? Must have been more than ten, I kid you not. There is some serious growing going on there.
Our room, in a converted stable, accessed up our own private staircase, was humungous and just gorgeous, a blend of original character and bang up-t0-date style.
Open plan, we discovered a mini drinks station area, dressing space (as big as some budget bedrooms I’ve stayed in, in London), toilet in one room and shower room on the other side and, in the middle of the suite a plush sitting area AND a deep, freestanding bathtub. The generously-sized Bramley toiletries and Nespresso coffee machine were the icing on the cake. I immediately wished we could have booked for longer.
Scoff & Quaff
I’ve drooled over the food offering at the Pig already, which you can reacquaint yourself with here, so I won’t bang on about it, but we loved the ambience of the buzzy restaurant which felt as though it had drawn in a local crowd as well as residents. My highlight was actually the signature Piggy Treats that we were served as an appetiser – a board of mini scotch eggs and Saddleback crackling with apple sauce, amongst other pork and fishy delights. Plus, you’ve gotta love the biscuits and Piggy Fours, post dins.
We left the Mudlet at home this time and nor did we see any other kids whilst we were there, but I’m told the hotel is very child-friendly and can believe it. Plenty of the rooms are big enough to fit a cot, or extra bed and, this year, the hotel unveiled three self-catering cottages on-site, a ten minute walk from the house, for when you can’t be arsed to cater for yourself. Plus, I spotted a tree-swing and, the forthcoming Smoked and Uncut festival (9 Sept) is family-friendly, so the choice is yours. Bring the kids and they’ll be welcome, or make it a romantic break* (*opportunity to catch up on sleep).
Out and about
Quite why you’d want to leave the Pig if you’re lucky enough to arrive there, is beyond me. But that said, I always get the guilt pangs if I’ve not gone out and explored – and there is plenty of exploring to do in these parts. You’re eight miles from the South Devon coast, fifteen minutes from Exeter and five minutes from Honiton, with its 38 antique and bric-a-brac shops. Plus, the gorgeous Dorset seaside town of Lyme Regis is easily within reach to blow away the cobwebs and cocktails. I mean, it says its in Dorset, but may as well be in Devon. It’s pretty enough to be.
Good for: Romantics looking to recharge, girlfriend getaways or bigger group reunions. Those looking for total peace and relaxation will absolutely get it.
Not for: Ummmm. Errrr. Pass. I honestly don’t know who wouldn’t love a stay here. Yes, it’s not cheap, but it’s worth every single penny.
The damage: Our room would set you back from £275 – £335, depending on when you stay. As I said, it’s not cheap, but I’d recommend for a special occasion. Otherwise, you can grab a ‘Cheap and Cheerful’ room from £145 a night, which still sounds pretty good, to me. In the restaurant, starters range from £7-£9 and mains start from £16 to £26 (for a steak).
The Pig at Combe, Gittisham, Honiton, Devon, EX14 3AD. Tel: 01404 540400. thepighotel.com