We’ve long cherished childhood summers spent on the Dorset coast so couldn’t wait to book in at The Pig – on the Beach, The Pig hotel’s latest outpost in Studland Bay, which opened last month. Crossing on the chain-ferry from Poole to the Isle of Purbeck brought back all the fervoured impatience of our youth. Some of the UK’s finest sand beaches and dunes are here, and The Pig – on the Beach knows it has a plum position from which to enjoy them. It’s an incredible, eccentrically turreted coastal villa, flanked by two thatched cottages – The Bothy and The Hideaway – like something out of The Hobbit.
We took our own little piglets who squealed with delight at the bronze floppy-eared pig manning the entrance, then at the chic little buckets and spades awaiting them in their room and again, intermittently throughout our stay – the wildflower meadow elicited yelps of ‘swishy swashy grass, mummy!’ And deservedly so, for it is truly charming. The honeyed exterior and lavender beds give the place an almost Provencal glow, and the whole place seems to bubble effortlessly – a sure sign of its unflappable team.
The hotel actually bills itself as a restaurant with rooms and is right to boast of its abundant kitchen garden (peas, courgettes, fennel) and local-sourcing (everything else comes from a 25 mile radius). We could write odes to the Isle of Wight tomatoes. At breakfast, our table ached with homemade granola, muffins, rhubarb compote, light-as air patisseries and eggs from the resident hens. We ate like Trojans. And afterwards, snacked like piggies from the room’s larder (sherbert!).
Had we wanted to be true sybarites we would have booked in for a pummelling at one of the two Shepherd Huts, where treatments use Bamford products. Instead we retreated to our triple aspect room with its long billowing drapes, driftwood-style floorboards and Roberts radio (set to Classic FM) to contemplate our sheer luck – taking two kids under three anywhere and feeling spoilt is a slice of heaven. And having spied the log-fires, we can’t wait to come back in winter.