A great British bolt hole – with extra sparkle: the ‘handsome’ new Pig Hotel in the South Downs is surrounded by some of Britain’s best wine countries
- Jane Knight says most of the 30 rooms are in renovated outbuildings
- Best room ‘is probably the Chicken Shack’, with lights in old chicken feeders
- The hotel has two hectares of vines – harvest could be on the menu for 2023
They could so easily have called him the drunken pig.
In the rolling South Downs, the latter of Pig Hotels’ reach is surrounded by some of Britain’s best wine countries. His two hectares of vines were planted last year, which means his first harvest could be on the menu from 2023.
But given that founder Robin Hutson is so passionate about plonk – he was co-owner of the Hôtel du Vin group – why did it take him until the eighth piglet to find one suitable for the vine? “I’ve been very busy,” Hutson smiles as he walks through the vineyards and reflects on his openings in Harlyn Bay in Cornwall last year and Bridge Place in Kent the year before. “But I’ve always wanted a vineyard.
Beautiful vintage: the elegant pig exterior in the South Downs
The hotel has 30 rooms, which cost from £ 155 per night. In the photo, one of the comfortable bedrooms
Decor is “shabby chic at its best,” writes Jane Knight of the Mail on Sunday
This part of Sussex is bubbling with excitement. One of the best tasting tours is a 15-minute drive down the road in Tinwood, while a sparkling wine tasting session in Digby, which caters to the House of Commons, also takes place on-site.
Hutson, however, wants to create a very good still wine – much more difficult in this part of the world – and has planted several rows of gamay, used in Beaujolais, along with the usual champagne varietals.
As its harvests ripen, there is an extensive list of English wines to try and plenty of places to try, from the cellar tasting room to the conservatory restaurant that spans the length of the house for years. 1770 and has its own vine crawling along the ceiling.
The garden has a field of 4,500 newly planted vines, a first for the Pig industry
Elsewhere, the dimly lit Masai red bar and wood-paneled lounge have a certain piggy feel, though there isn’t the same sense of grandeur in the main building as at its sister hotels.
Most of the 30 rooms are in a beautifully renovated set of outbuildings, along with a handful of comfortable wagons in the large, two-acre walled vegetable garden, a gentle trot down a gravel road.
It’s shabby chic at its best, this time with a floral twist, designed by Hutson’s wife Judy and modeled, apparently, after a fictional 1940s housewife called Mary. Looking at the vines from a bedroom in the main house, I can’t help but think that Bacchus also played his part.
This room has wood paneling on the walls and an armchair for lounging with a book
Trendy: In the photo, one of the bathrooms has an avocado-colored bathtub
USP: A restaurant with rooms for wine lovers.
The food: Everything you would expect from a Pig hotel, with added excitement. The lobster cocktail is particularly good, while the shoulder of lamb is melting in the magical mouth. The beetroot juice for breakfast made me feel like making up my liver for the binge from the night before.
The rooms: All beautiful, their colors carefully chosen to run from curtains to old rugs; there’s even the odd freestanding avocado tub, which looks rather trendy. Probably the best room is the Chicken Shack, with its patio, uneven tiled roof, lights in old chicken feeders, and a tub next to a lounge chair at the end of a long room separated by beams.
The Pig in the South Downs, Madehurst, West Sussex. Rooms from £ 155 per night (thepighotel.com).