New little Piggy goes to market: The Inspector calls at the new Pig hotel in the South Downs and declares that it’s ‘perfect’
- The Pig In The South Downs is the eighth Pig hotel of the litter
- The Inspector is in Room 2 – ‘reached by a fabulous cantilever staircase’
- The room’s vibe is ‘green and moody’ and ‘the moody vibe continues downstairs’
- ‘Some guests have dressed up; others are in shorts. No one shows off,’ he says
- Remember, The Inspector pays his way… and tells it like it is
The litter now stands at eight. This latest Pig opened on Monday in the South Downs near Arundel and we are here on day two, but you would never know it.
Both guests and staff already seem remarkably at home in what has become a thoroughly tried-and-tested — and hugely successful — format.
Take a splendid old house in lush grounds with plenty of auxiliary buildings ripe for development; redesign the interiors (whatever it takes) from top to bottom with a nod towards shabby chic sustainability; create a superb kitchen garden; hire a talented and enthusiastic chef; find local suppliers within 25 miles; create a sexy bar; light up the firepits and — bingo — you’ve got another winner on your hands.
The Pig In The South Downs is a former family home dating back to the 1770s. Pictured is one of the plush bedrooms
The Inspector describes the feel of the hotel as ‘effortlessly inclusive. Pictured is one of the bathrooms
But of course it’s not quite as simple as that. It doesn’t explain the buzz, the lack of pretension, the sheer joy of being here.
We pull up at the front door of what was a family home dating back to the 1770s. I’m frazzled after arguing with the satnav.
‘Just leave the car there and we’ll park it for you,’ says a sparky young Irish woman, who turns out to be the general manager.
We’re in Room 2, reached by a fabulous cantilever staircase that winds past an arched window and up to a long and exquisite first-floor landing.
The overall colour scheme in the room is green and moody. Some people might find it too dark, others will think it soothing; all will marvel at the vast avocado bathtub.
The moody vibe continues downstairs in the slinky bar and sitting room, before you move into the Pig’s signature greenhouse dining room, which spills out onto the terrace and into the garden, with a field of newly planted 4,500 vines (a first for the Pig) beyond.
The garden has a field of newly planted 4,500 vines, a first for the Pig chain
Everyone is here: bright young things in their 20s, exhausted parents who have farmed out their children for a night, elderly couples. It’s all effortlessly inclusive and perhaps that’s the secret. Some people have dressed up; others are in shorts. No one is showing off.
We go overboard at dinner, starting with a selection of Piggy Bits, including the best ever crackling with apple sauce. The lobster cocktail is terrific but I’m not so convinced by my main course of scallops wrapped in air-dried ham. Before breakfast (£20 and not included in the price), we walk through the kitchen garden, where there are shepherd’s huts with outside showers and log burners.
This bedroom has wood panelling on the walls and an armchair for cosying up with a book
Then we say hello to the hotel’s chickens roaming in the nuttery (another first, which will produce almonds, walnuts and chestnuts) before inspecting the greenhouses, fruit cages and ‘mushroom house’.
Towards the end of breakfast, we spot a note on our table that says: ‘We know we’re not perfect yet. So please enjoy 10 per cent off your food today.’
It all seems perfect enough to me.
The Pig In The South Downs, Madehurst, Arundel, BN18 ONL. Doubles from £145, room only. For more information call 0345 225 9494 or visit thepighotel.com.