Our very first stop on our recent weeklong journey through the English countryside was at The Pig – on the Beach Hotel, located in the Dorset village of Studland. When plans were beginning to come together for our spring trip to England, we knew that a visit to at least one of the five locations of The Pig Hotels was a must. It doesn’t get much more Map & Menu than the hotel’s brand and its motto – “it’s really a restaurant with rooms”, and they’ve long been on our radar thanks to the praise the properties continue to receive for their in-house restaurants. Always willing to venture a little further off the beaten path for a memorable meal or stay, we were more than excited to finally book a stay at The Pig – on the Beach.
The 23-room yellow manor house, perched above Studland Bay, features a picture perfect view of Old Harry Rocks, the eastern most point of England’s Jurassic Coast from the backyard, restaurant, and many of the rooms. A morning walk out to Old Harry is considered by many to be a must-do experience when staying at The Pig – on the Beach, and thanks to an entryway stocked full of colorful Hunter wellies, you don’t even have to worry if you forget to pack your boots.
The concept of the hotel being “a restaurant with rooms” was made more apparent each time we returned from a day spent exploring the Dorset coast or countryside and were greeted by a gaggle of the hotel’s livestock – pigs, chickens, and sheep. On multiple occasions during our short stay we found ourselves venturing back into the impressive kitchen garden to stroll through the rows of fresh vegetables and herbs, all of which are used in the preparation of The Pig’s delicious locally-sourced meals. The ingredients that chefs James and Andy use in the kitchen that are not grown on site are sourced within a 25 mile radius, and while we’re no strangers to the idea and merits of eating locally, as a traveler, I’ve found it of particular value to be able to pinpoint where the food I’m eating is coming from – allowing me to understand and connect with a new location that much more. Some highlights of our dinner inside the plant-filled conservatory dining room included a springtime leek risotto, grilled purple sprouting broccoli with feta, and an outstanding strawberry and fennel pudding.
Although we were the faced with a good deal of cloudy weather for the first half of our trip, the sun finally managed to peek out on our final morning at The Pig, and the warm light and blue skies made it especially hard to leave this uniquely beautiful property. Our first experience at one of The Pig hotels definitely lived up to our lofty expectations, and we can only hope that someday we’re lucky enough to cross another one of these “restaurants with rooms” off our list.
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.