The Pig hotel: The getaway game-changer

In the ten years since country-hotel The Pig opened, it’s become a New Forest legend. Laura Craik checks in and checks out its chic yet super-chilled charm

The grand yet welcoming entrance to The Pig is covered in wisteria in spring. Co-owner Judy Hutson stands ready to greet guests in from of its door, painted in one of her signature blue-greens. Photograph: Kate Martin

Since opening ten is Room 4’s, a strict white and years ago, country hotel The Pig has, thanks to its genius balance of ‘wow, this is so chic’ and ‘aah, I feel at home’ become a New Forest legend and the go-to destination for those after an aspirational yet relaxing getaway.

The soft green on the walls of The Library balance the sofa’s bold floral print, which was picked to mirror the forestry outside.

It is co-owners Judy Hutson and her husband Robin’s first Pig – they now have seven – and to mark its birthday they’ve given it a gentle refurb to bring it more in line with their newer hotels while still keeping its individuality.

Judy’s pet design hate? ‘TV’s on walls!’ Thankfully, there’s no telly to be seen in The Library, just red armchairs, elegant table lamps and grey velvet footstools that give the rooma a pleasin symmetry, as well as cosiness.

‘I work with the building,’ says Judy of her design process. ‘I don’t have a format or cookie-cutter approach. People tend to say, “I wonder what they’ve done with this one?” and that pressure keeps you on your toes, knowing the eye is on you.’

In this bedroom, floral House of Hacknet wallpaper is used to stunning effect, while the orange cushions are a lively counterpart to the natural Desinger’s Guild curtains.

A tour of this Pig’s 12 bedrooms yields enough interiors tips to last a lifetime. That perfect shade of greenish blue? It’s here, as well as the perfect floral-but-not-too- floral wallpaper. The rooms’ colour schemes offset cool tones with warmer ones, and draw inspiration from the forest and meadows outside. ‘I tend to do the curtains first, then paint, then upholstery,’ Judy says of her design work. ‘But here I did it back to front, with wallpaper first.’

A rolltop bath and artfully distressed wooden floorboards are just two of the delights to be found in Room 8.

The wallpapers, by House of Hackney and Designers Guild, are all stunning, but my favourite green colour palette. ‘People have a strong reaction to it,’ agrees Judy. Her own favourite is Room 1, a sage-green affair. ‘My friend Jan stayed here for my 60th birthday. I love the wallpaper, but I also love the memories.’ The hotel’s public areas have been spruced up, too: the entrance hall repainted in an extra-cosy smoky hue, while the library and garden rooms have had their seating reupholstered in forest-themed fabrics. Every room is carefully curated to feel super comfy. ‘People come here to relax. It’s not formal. We make spaces look like they’ve evolved over time. So each room will have a key piece – it could be a wooden floor or a chandelier – then I work from that piece.’

The neat lines of herbs and vegetables in front of the greenhouse supply the kitchen daily, in keeping with The Pig’s ‘zero-mile menu’ policy.

Judy is also a keen upcycler and constantly on the lookout for objects that can be repurposed. ‘When driving somewhere, if we see a bric-a-brac shop we’ll always stop for a browse. We enjoy that.’

A family affair – Judy’s son Ollie runs the hotel’s kitchen gardens.

While Judy has put incredible thought into the interiors, she is quick to acknowledge it’s the staff who make The Pig special. ‘I create the stage set, but the staff are the actors who make it live and breathe.’ That many of the top roles are held by women is, she says, a happy accident. ‘It wasn’t a conscious thing – they were just the right people for the job.’

At the bottom of the garden, over a little bridge, is The Potting Shed, where guests can enjoy beauty treatments.

Repurpose like a pro

At The Pig, Judy has turned upcycling into an art. Here are her tips for turning something old into something gorgeous

  • Look out for things around the garden made of galvanised steel, such as dustbin lids, to turn into light fittings. We bought a job lot of chicken feeders and transformed them into lights for our Hop Pickers’ Huts at The Pig in Bridge Place, Kent.
  • Wooden washing dollies – historically, tools used for pumping laundry up and down in wash tubs – look like giant plungers and make great beside tables, especially in a tight spot. We also use them for coffee tables in our outside spaces, to lend an agricultural feel.
Judy in the hotel’s garden. It’s flowers and greenery, as well as the the surrounding forest and meadows have inspired many of The Pig’s interiors.
  • Most of our garden furniture is salvaged from private estates around the country. Wrought-iron garden furniture weathers well and lasts for ages. Look for it on auction sites and at car-boot sales.
  • Found items such as wood from a wrecked boat can be put on to salvaged metal to make art. We work with an Essex artist who has made sea bass sculptures for our hotels.