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10 Restaurants with Rooms in the UK (Part 1) - The Pig – Brockenhurst, Hampshire

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After a great meal, there’s nothing better than climbing into a comfortable bed. Dedicated foodie Rufus Purdy goes from the Kentish coast to the Scottish isles in search of Britain’s best places to eat and sleep.

Description: Langford Fivehead in Somerset

Langford Fivehead in Somerset

It has taken the British a while to come around to the idea of a top-quality restaurant with rooms. Although country pubs have traditionally provided space in which diners could crash out after their meal, there has been little on these shores to rival the French auberge – where guest can expect to enjoy a meal prepared by expert chefs from the finest seasonal, local ingredients before climbing the stairs to sleep in comfort and luxury.

But the number of UK restaurants with rooms has been increasing and several have opened in the past 18 months. In an era when it seems every major hotel has a destination restaurant overseen by a star chef, this less glitzy scene flourishes under the radar. Talented chef who don’t have a TV series on their own range of cook-in sauces are realizing that by providing accommodation within walking distance of their tables they can not only boost their profits but also entire far-flung foodies who might not otherwise have visited.

Description: Duck egg and black pudding at The Pig in Hampshire

Duck egg and black pudding at The Pig in Hampshire

Wearing the hats oh both hotelier and chef, however, is hard. Increasingly savvy guests expect high levels of style, comfort and design as well as fabulous food. So the successful restaurant with rooms has to excel on two fronts. The food and wine, the main focus, must be of a standard worth travelling for, while the accommodation has to hold its own against a very healthy British boutique hotel scene. The following 10 places, for the most part, walk that fine line very well indeed.

The Pig – Brockenhurst, Hampshire

Description: The Pig hotel

The Pig hotel

As the brainchild of Hotel du Vin co-founder Robin Hutson, The Pig is every bit as glossy and stylish as you would imagine. Its proximity to London – about 90 minutes’ drive down the M3 – means that HdV’s core client base has been kept close, while a gorgeous New Forest location ensures the kind of rural seclusion stressed-out metropolitans spend their working weeks dreaming about. And from the moment I arrive - when I’m greeted with Champagne and a platter of homemade sausage rolls, cured hams and pork scratching – I find myself adoring the place.

The Pig is based around a pretty, ivy-covered mansion and spread over several acres of grounds in which ancient oaks tower over manicured lawns. My room, in the former stable block, is an expert combination of hip-hotel essentials – free-standing bath, polished floorboards, bold-print wallpaper – and luxurious country-house comforts. As well as the homely wooden furniture, log-burning stove and forest-themed artwork, there’s a dog basket and a milk churn out in the porch.

Description: Restaurant at The Pig - Brockenhurst

 Restaurant at The Pig - Brockenhurst

Chef James Golding, formerly of The Ivy in London, creates the Modern British cuisine served in the conservatory-style restaurant. Many of the ingredients he uses come from The Pig’s beautiful kitchen garden, and many others are sourced from the New Forest. My starter of home-smoked salmon, served with an apple-and-chard salad, has a wonderful dendeness that comes from the oak chips and Brockenhurst honey with which it is infused. My main course – a 38-day-aged rib-eye steak from nearby Pennington Farm- comes with crispy tobacco onions and a selection of mushrooms foraged from the forest only that morning. The robust flavours are expertly matched and thoroughly satisfying.

The Pig may have been open only a year or so, but it feels as though it’s been here for decades. Watch it become one of Britain’s most successful country retreats.

Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire (01590 622354; www.thepighotel.co.uk). Doubles from $190, B&B. Dinner about $115 for two without wine.

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