Steal the style: The Pig near Bath

The Pig near Bath is Londoners' cosy country house retreat, the latest in a litter of four with the feel-good formula.
The Pig is a rare breed, a group of four intimate, design-conscious restaurant-hotels scattered across southern England that have been a runaway success among London foodies and weekenders.

Quirky and eclectic with a truly individual shabby-chic signature, The Pig near Bath opened this year in the Mendip Hills — joining The Pig on the Beach in Dorset and Southampton's Pig in the Wall — and has quickly become as popular as the original Pig in the New Forest.

Redefining the country house hotel experience, there is no room for floral chintz, ankle-thick carpets or stuffy formality at Bath. Instead, expect light-touch décor with hints of old-world charm. Nostalgia starts at the brass front door knocker and continues past the boot rack to the giant fire irons in the log-filled grate next to the leather club chairs.

The Pig is in a Grade II-listed Georgian mansion cut from mellow Bath stone. In the Seventies and Eighties this was Hunstrete House, one of Britain's top five-star hotels, but neglect in the intervening years had taken its toll.

Judy and Robin Hutson stroked the tatty old pile into a 29-room hotel of understated luxury. There are claret velvet sofas, stripped wooden floors and a mirrored display of artfully mismatched glasses — a modern take on the traditional country house look carefully curated by master hotelier Robin, and Judy, his art school-trained wife, who, in her fifties, retains the youthful enthusiasm of a student.
Under-stated luxury: an en-suite bedroom at The Pig

The Hutsons' CV includes spells at Soho House and Chewton Glen in Hampshire. Robin created and sold the Hotel du Vin chain, and now focuses on "The Pigs" and on Lime Wood, the couple's five-star hotel in the New Forest. "We like to use textures in our furnishings," says Judy. "We are more likely to do rusty than shiny. Yes, it's shabby chic but we think of it as more old and new mixed, eclectic and homely."

The Hutsons' personal touch is everywhere in the Bath hotel, from the sage and buttercream panelling to the French script wallpaper. Two plump, cast-iron pigs guard the entrance. A decadent private dining room, seating 24 and inspired by the artwork for the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet album, is one of Judy's favourite rooms. "It is the antithesis of every private dining room in the country, with stone floors that we added, walls decorated to look like decaying plaster and a huge, bare-topped table with mismatched gothic dining chairs."

Hotel director Tom Ross describes The Pig as essentially a restaurant with rooms, and the kitchen garden is central. Food is grown on site or sourced from within a 25-mile radius. There's an apple orchard, a neat herb and vegetable garden, chickens and three miniature pigs.

Get the look
Judy's address book includes, in Chelsea, George Smith for sofas and Core One for statement one-off pieces of furniture, with The Old Cinema in Chiswick and Lassco in Southwark for decorative artefacts. Wells Reclamation in Somerset and Victoria Antiques in Cornwall are also productive hunting grounds.

"I use paint from Paint Library and Little Greene. Hungerford Arcade provides bric-a-brac and antiques and I like young British fabric designers such as Sarah Hardaker, Rachael Mitas and Emily Bond." (0845 077 9494) Rooms from £139 a night

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