Studland has always been a really special place for us. As children, when our parents were busy working in the restaurant, our grandparents would whisk us away in the early summer for a week or two of sea air, salty hair, beach huts, cliff top walks and fish and chips – a repeat of the holidays they shared with our Mum when she was growing up.
We’d stay in a cosy caravan and spend our days building sandcastles, braving swims in the cold english sea and squeeling with delight as we spent hours trying to win our fortunes on the 2p machines at the arcade in Swanage. Dorset definitely held the key to our childhood hearts.
So, when we discovered The Pig on the Beach, perched on the cliff edge overlooking our bay of nostalgia, we knew it was the perfect spot for a family girls trip with our Mum and Nan to celebrate our Nan’s Birthday.
We’ve been to The Pig near Bath before so knew roughly what to expect, but that didn’t stop us being blown away (both metaphorically and literally – this was the weekend of Storm Freya!) when we first saw the beautiful old house complete with uninterrupted views of Old Harry Rocks.
We battled the wind and made our way inside where we were greeted by cosy sofas, roaring fires and the friendliest staff. Mum and Nan were sharing a garden room, tucked away down a path at the front of the house, and we were shown to a lovely room up on the first floor, both complete with free standing baths, larders packed full of local treats and the biggest beds. The hotel still feels like a grand manor house with twisting corridors and creaky floorboards, but also simple and cosy. We felt instantly at home.
After a cup of tea and a quick tour of the drawing room, restaurant, residents snug and bar (we’d be spending a lot of time here) we headed outside.
The Pig hotels are known for their impressive kitchen gardens, packed full of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Everything is clearly labelled so you can see what’s being grown and, if you’re like us, plan what you’ll be having for dinner in hours to come.
At the end of the garden, past the Shepard’s Huts, you can clamber over a stile and follow the short coastal path down to Studland Bay. We strolled along the windy beach, watching dogs (and one brave/crazy man) playing in the wild waves, before climbing back up to the comfort of a squishy sofa and a couple of G&Ts in the bar.
Dinner is served in the beautiful conservatory, complete with mismatched tables and chairs and scatterings of pot plants on window ledges and tables. The menu changes daily based on the latest catch and what’s growing well outside.
Make sure you order the Saddleback Crackling and Apple Sauce, and a few of the other Piggy Bits and Garden Bits to share. We also had the Crispy Kale & Celery Salt and Fish Cakes & Wild Garlic Mayo – all delicious.
This was followed by Smoked Jurassic Coast Haddock with Tagliatelle, Leek Cream Sauce & Pickled Fennel, Piddle Valley Chicken Breast with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Smoked Bacon & Mushroom Sauce, and ‘Govenek of Ladram’ Pollock with New Forest Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce.
We’d love to go into more detail about how unbelievable the food is, but for once we’re lost for words. We couldn’t fault a thing. The wine is fantastic too. Thank you to the lovely Sommelier for referring to us throughout the weekend as his ‘Sancerre Girls.’
One of the best things about The Pig hotels has got to be breakfast. A table piled high with homemade granola, pastries, yoghurt, fruit, cheese, meat, berries, homemade nut butter, homemade energy bars, fresh bread… the list goes on.
Followed by the option of eggs however you’d like them, smashed avocado on toast, a full english and so much more. Hands down the best way to start the day!
Straight after breakfast the next morning, we headed down to the Shepherd’s Huts for facials. There’s nothing like the feeling of being tucked up in the warm in full on relaxation mode, with nothing but the sound of the wind and rain outside. We can’t remember the names of the lovely girls in charge of our treatments, but we couldn’t recommend a treatment enough! Rounded off nicely with fresh mint tea, kindly served in the drawing room with extra teacups so Mum and Nan could join us too.
The rest of Sunday was spent re-living our childhood. We headed into Swanage for coffee, a few rounds on our favourite 2pm machines, and a wander around the sleepy town we used to know so well. It hasn’t changed a bit.
For lunch, we picked up fish and chips and cornish pasties (when you’ve only got a couple of days by the sea you have to go all in!) and drove up to Tilly Whim – a National Trust site we used to explore when we were little. Sadly, the typically British weather meant we didn’t venture out to the caves and lighthouse, but we ate our lunch in the car with the rain pouring down outside, laughing about just how English this scene must have looked.
You know you’re staying somewhere really unique when you don’t mind if the weather turns. Back at The Pig, we escaped the rain and napped, played games, read books by the fire, and enjoyed a delicious bottle of Hampshire based Hambledon English Sparkling Wine.
Dinner that night was just as indulgent as the night before. This time Braised Pork Shoulder Pie with Kalettes, ‘Middlewhite’ Tomahawk Pork Chop, New Forest Jerusalem Artichokes and Bashed Dorset Neaps.
As if we hadn’t eaten over the course of the evening as though we were the hotels namesake, we ended on ‘Piggy Fours’ – a selection of beautiful little bite-sized sweet treats – and Cheese. Because there’s no better way to end a meal.
We finished our drinks in the cosy bar before collapsing happy and exhausted into our oversized beds for another night of completely uninterrupted sleep.
We wanted to make the most of our morning before heading back out into the real world. With the weather much better than the day before, we woke early and went for a run along Studland Beach (whilst Mum and Nan had a well deserved relaxing morning). As we slipped out into the fresh morning air, we could hear the clattering of breakfast being set up in the dining room – this definitely made us run faster!
We went to town on breakfast. If the first meal of the day is supposed to be the most important, what’s the harm in having four courses?!
We took one final stroll around the gardens before waving goodbye to the happy pigs.
The Pig on the Beach was the perfect place to relive some of our favourite childhood memories all together. A huge thank you to the staff for making us feel as though the place was home for the weekend and went above and beyond to make sure we were well looked after. We honestly can’t wait to go back!