The Pig at Bridge Place - a cosy and romantic winter escape
What I loved about it:
Set in the heart of the Kent countryside, The Pig at Bridge Place is bursting with historic character, delicious food and luxury touches. With grand fireplaces, secret staircases, comfy armchairs and secluded nooks, it’s perfect for a cosy and romantic winter escape.
Value for money (out of 10):
A relaxed and rustic home away from home
Having been a distant admirer of the Pig hotels for some years, when the team opened a new boutique offering right here in Kent, I was desperate to visit. Located in the charming village of Bridge, just outside Canterbury, The Pig at Bridge Place is just over an hour’s drive from us, so (after a few hints!) I was delighted when my husband surprised me with a two-night stay as an early Christmas gift in December 2019.
Positioning themselves as ‘restaurants with rooms’, it’s the Pig’s rustic, homegrown and locally-sourced food and drink at the heart of their brand ethos which really sets them apart, along with effortlessly stylish rooms and compassionately converted abodes. Founded in 2011 by hotelier Robin Hutson and wife Judy, there are now 8 Pig hotels in the ‘litter’ (two of which have opened in the last 18 months) across the south of England, each with its own unique identity.
We arrived at The Pig at Bridge Place in the late afternoon, greeted by an impressively long driveway, which revealed the magnificent hotel at the end. Being the weekend before Christmas, we were met by a bubbling cauldron of mulled wine and a beautifully decorated tree standing pride of place in the main drawing room, before being shown our room.
First built around 1638, this historic building of Bridge Place boasts years of history, with its stunning character features, magnificent wooden staircases and numerous secret nooks and snugs. From its beginnings as a stately home that played host to high society in the 17th century, to a rock’n’roll nightclub from the 1960s, it’s varied incarnations have been atmospherically preserved in its loving restoration to a gorgeous boutique hotel. We were staying in one of the 7 rooms in the main house, but The Pig at Bridge Place also offers 12 rooms in the light and airy Coach House, as well as a two-storey romantic hideaway, family friendly lodges and riverside Hop Pickers’ Huts.
After checking in, we spent the first couple of hours of our stay in one of The Pig at Bridge Place’s many cosy and romantic snugs, complete with timber-framed fireplace, plush velvet sofas and quirky decor. We ordered cocktails from the bar, read our books and felt immediately relaxed. That evening, we walked into the village for dinner at one of Bridge’s lovely gastropubs, The Red Lion, where we enjoyed a delicious, wholesome meal and friendly service, before collapsing into our amazingly comfortable bed back at the Pig.
Breakfast at the Pig at Bridge Place is served at its on-site restaurant in the Coach House. With high ceilings, light streaming through the panelled windows and jars of pickled fruit and vegetables lining the walls, this area adds to the homely, rustic feel of the hotel. We sampled some of the many locally-sourced jams, breads and homemade granola on the breakfast buffet table before ordering smoked salmon and scrambled eggs from the cooked menu – all of which provided a lovely start to the morning. Served on mismatched, country-style crockery, you really get the feeling of coming downstairs for a casual, weekend breakfast after a night staying with friends.
Following our leisurely breakfast, we took a stroll around the grounds of the hotel to see it properly in the daylight. With views of the Kentish countryside surrounding us, we were able to see the expansive walled kitchen gardens and greenhouses that the Pig is famous for, providing the foundations for as many of the on-site dishes as possible. Other produce (including meat and wines) comes from within a 25-mile radius of the hotel, leading to the sustainable yet simple approach to wonderful food and drink.
We then spent the rest of the day in the nearby historic city of Canterbury, visiting the wooden-clad Christmas market, taking in its famous cathedral and learning tall tales about the city’s many ghosts. Though the weather wasn’t particularly on our side, we had a chance to complete our Christmas shopping at the many independent shops and warm up with a hot chocolate at Tiny Tim’s Tea Room before our welcome return back to the Pig to cosy up once again.
For our second and final night we had booked to dine at the hotel – something we were both hugely excited for, and certainly didn’t disappoint! The restaurant seemed transformed from what we’d seen at breakfast into a romantic, candlelit bistro. We started with deliciously warm bread spread with salt and butter, before moving onto our mains. I had the lamb in a red wine sauce which melted in the mouth, whilst my husband had the Kentish game pie, alongside accompanying sides of estate potatoes, red cabbage and parsnips. For pudding, we shared the crumble (which was equally delicious!) before retreating for more lowlit, cosy cocktails in the snug. Needless to say, we didn’t want to leave in the morning!
It’s hard to encapsulate the ambience that the Pig hotels exude, but all I can describe it as is the ultimate home away from home – obviously, if your home was a stunning country manor with outstanding food and service! Whilst many high-end hotels thrive on the kind of formality which comes with perfectly white sheets, the Pig makes you immediately feel relaxed without any pretension or stuffiness. It offers us everyday folk a wonderful escape into the rustic, country living as seen in magazines and cosy Netflix Christmas films, making for a wonderfully romantic winter escape.