The Pig on the Beach, Dorset

Sam Lewis explores the Dorset ‘piglet' hotel where the food and treatments are entwined with the land and seaWednesday, January 7, 2015

By Sam Lewis

Sam Lewis explores the Dorset ‘piglet' hotel where the food and treatments are entwined with the land and sea

Two cosy shepherd's huts are the location for spa treatments at this shabby, chic seaview hotel where the local countryside and ocean seeps into everything from the treatments to the food.

Only a short stroll from the manor house, past the quaint walled vegetable garden and giant-sized picnic tables, getting to them may not be pleasant on a rainy day and few guests make the journey in bathrobes and slippers. But rest assured your therapist will bravely wield an umbrella to protect you from the elements and lead you far from the madden crowd.

Unlike other spas, where you can be rudely awakened when neighbouring spa guests slam doors or flip flop up and down the corridors, here, on the rolling lawn, the only sounds are the birds and bleating of the sheep outside – and the distant rumble of the sea roaring on a gusty day. This is a hotel that brings you close to nature, and you can feel the tension in your shoulders drop before the massage has even begun.

Step inside the aptly named Potting Sheds and you'll discover fluffy towels piled on the massage table and walls decorated with tins, pots, rustic trows and spades. Thankfully, there's not the faintest scent of compost — just the heavenly scent of fragrant candles.

Like a shepherd protecting its flock, my therapist stands guard outside while I undress and slip under the covers. The spa menu is not vast but the therapist's knowledge is… I've chosen a simple massage and she intuitively tailors it to my needs. She lets slip she's also trained in reiki and I give her free rein to use it.

The organic products used are Bamford, made in England out of botanicals such as geranium, clary sage, lemongrass and rosemary. Some guests rave about the luxury facial (£95 for 60mins), others the ancient stone massage (£125 for 90mins), but the ultimate indulgence is the two-hour Pig Signature treatment (£145) that involves a full-body massage and facial, beginning with a footbath and verbena tea, fresh from the Kitchen garden.

And while sadly the Potting Sheds aren't big enough to include hot tubs or Jacuzzis, some of the 23 bedrooms contain deep roll top baths where you can wallow in private.

Guestrooms also feature minibars like larders, brimming with enough goodies guests can feast like pigs. And if you're in a seaview room, there's binoculars so that you can stare, curiously satiated, at the ships out to sea.

In the casual restaurant, a glass conservatory, among the terracotta plant pots and mini milk churns, patrons chatter sipping cocktails of daisy-infused Chase vodka or lemon/basil-infused gin, nibbling Piggy bits such as saddleback crackling or hock eggs. All of the ingredients — including the infamous suckling pig and Dorset lamb — are sourced within a 25-mile radius and every dish is

touched by something in the walled garden. Many are also influenced by the sea with oyster plants, sea kale and seabeets, all watered by seawater or grown using a mix of local seaweed and manure.

And from this summer (2015), guests can help staff source their dinner on a kayaking trip, foraging in the sea as well as the forest, catching fish and seaweed that will end up on their plate.

Who knows, maybe by the end of the year body treatments will include local sea salt and seaweed and the facials will use honey sourced from the newly installed hives.

After all, this hotel is growing organically, feasting off the land along with other little piglets in the New Forest and Bath, which are all exploring ways to become self sufficient.

If you think I'm telling porkies, go see for yourself. I think you'll be glad that you did…

thepighotel.com


Read More