We’ve had a busy summer this year; the children have had a couple of weeks with their dad, I’ve been abroad and juggling work, we’ve had trips into London. The six weeks have flown by! I felt like I wanted to enjoy some proper time with my two little funballs so last week we took a couple of nights to enjoy the south coast, with the first at The Pig on the Beach in Studland, Dorset.
The Pig on the Beach – a review
I am a huge fan of The Pig hotels – I’ve stayed at The Pig in the Hole in Southampton as part of a couple but never with the kids. My love for a stay in a lovely hotel is well-documented and being able to share the fun of a massive bed with 1000 thread count sheets and a bursting minibar with my children is pretty exciting to me.
The Pig on the Beach is a 23 room country house rurally situated on the bay. Not quite ON the beach – it’s a five minute walk away – the views over the sea really are breathtaking.
We arrived at 3pm after a day of heavy rainfall – the skies were grey and the grass was sodden but the setting was still beautifully dramatic. We unpacked the car and I set the kids free for a ten minute energy burn off before we checked in. The grounds of the hotel are immense with so many nooks and crannies to explore; I imagine slightly older children would go wild discovering everything it had to offer.
I’d booked a ‘Comfy Luxe’ room for us at a rate of £210 + an extra £10 for the loan of a cot; Hux can just about still squeeze into one (though as it turned out he sooo wasn’t into it that night) and though they give you the option of bringing your own travel cot I didn’t want to – I still haven’t got the hang of unfolding it. We were shown to our room (number 9) by some really lovely receptionists; we were to be in the ‘new’ annexe of the hotel which involved a short outside stroll around the back of the building.
The children had been left pressies for their trip – a lovely ‘The Pig’ canvas bag with buckets and spades for them to keep for the beach. They immediately packed the pens and colouring books we’d brought for our trip into their new bags and toted them around.
Our room was a great size with a nice long entranceway that gave us plenty of room to stash our stuff. We had a four poster bed (I’m not sure what size it was but it felt larger than king-size), a wardrobe, a beautifully stocked minibar and a glorious view over the bay.
The bathroom had that same view as well as a claw-footed tub – Hux: “MUMMY! The bath has feet!” – with plenty of towels and robes. Toiletries are decent-sized Bramley with local soap for washing your hands (priorities).
In a nutshell there was plenty of room for us all. We were excited to explore!
Despite the weather being completely crap for August we were desperate to get on the beach. And beach we did… We wandered down to Studland’s Middle Beach just a short stroll away and took in the breathtaking vista. This beautiful beach is four miles long and is part of the National Trust – on a clear day it features views of the Isle of Wight and Old Harry Rocks.
Before long it just got a bit too windy (again, AUGUST??!) so we walked back up to the hotel for cocktail hour via The Pig’s kitchen gardens.
The Pig’s restaurant menu is called ‘the 25 mile menu’: they source everything within a radius of 25 miles and this bountiful kitchen garden is a big part of that. Chock full of fruit, veg, herbs and edible flowers it was a great lesson for the kids as we strolled around reading the labels on the various plants and discussing whether we’d eat that particular food four our dinner later.
Props to whichever clever clogs had lit the fire in the residents snug – we needed it by the time we got back to the hotel! I enjoyed a glass of Nyetimber English fizz while Hux ordered a ‘yellow juice’ (orange juice) and Elfie had a glass of squash. We sat by the fire and chomped on what I’d say is one of The Pig’s signature dishes; their homemade pork scratchings with apple sauce. It does not get much better than that.
Once warm we trotted back to our room to take a dip in that enormous bath (big enough for all 3!) before dinner.
The dining room is situated at the back of the hotel and the restaurant has an ethos of uncomplicated and simple British garden food, true to the micro seasons and influenced by the coast with the emphasis squarely on fresh, clean flavours. We began by ordering homemade fish fingers and cuttlefish to share – having never eaten cuttlefish before I was super surprised to discover I am allergic to it! Très exotic. My face didn’t start swelling until we’d enjoyed our main courses, thank goodness for that ;)
The children’s menu was good with a decent selection of food that wasn’t re-formed potato and deep-fried ;) Elfie chose the local sausage and mash while Hux’s choice was cheesy pasta. I had some of this and it put my macaroni and cheese to shame: DIVINE.
Having eaten too many pork scratchings earlier that afternoon I decided on a beautiful dish of slow-cooked lamb pappardelle with olives and preserved lemon. I had this with a lovely glass of Picpoul de Pinet; the wine list was vast and is something I’m dying to come back and try by the bottle.
Once dinner was done and kids ice creams were scarfed we headed back up to our room. The hotel has a huge library of DVDs and we chose Ice Age to watch in bed together. TWICE.
You can probably guess that Hux spent his night parked there in between Elfie and I rather than go anywhere near that cot that had been erected in his honour ;)
Breakfast found us back in the restaurant that morning. It always surprises me when it’s not included in the price at hotels that have quite high rates (or is this becoming a trend now?) but it did give us the option to choose between light and heavy options that morning. Hux religiously eats porridge for breakfast every day so no change there and Elfie was allowed Coco Pops as a very special treat ;)
I had endless tea and the self-service eggs and soldiers which, when done right in my opinion, cannot be bettered!
After breakfast we went outside for a run around in the sunshine that had finally come out to play – look just how different that view is without the clouds. It was such a shame the weather wasn’t up to scratch on our first day but we made the most of it that morning.
The Pig on the Beach probably wouldn’t be the first place you’d think of to take your children but I’ll definitely be back with mine. They loved the huge grounds and wonderfully friendly staff who made the time to stop and chat to them and the proximity to that beautiful beach is just perfect. For a bit of grown-up luxury with a great deal of space and wonderful food I’d say this is the perfect spot; in the summer think reclining in the garden all day with a jug of Pimm’s and that view and come winter think open fires, games of Monopoly and a glass of red wine with the papers.
I’ll be back for both!
The Pig on the Beach
Manor House, Manor Road, Studland, Dorset, BH19 3AU