SilverSpoon London is a fun and fabulous blog fusing London life, foodie adventures and luxury travel. The blog gives a low-down on London’s hottest new restaurants as well as cool and inspiring destinations globally.
Ask a London foodie to name the most well-known afternoon tea in London and inevitably the response from many will be Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley Hotel. Not only is the fashion-inspired tea one of the most famous but it’s also one of the first that I tried! I managed to dig up a photo from 2007 to verify this…
My dear friend Binny had kindly invited me to be her plus one for tea, and we kicked off with a glass of Champagne Laurent-Perrier to celebrate. The tea is very special to Binny too as it was the first that her and her husband ever shared together. The Berkeley under went a refurbishment a few years ago, and the afternoon tea lounge is rather different to when we both first visited a few years ago. Served in the light and bright Collins Room, created by acclaimed designer Robert Angell, we are surrounded by huge floor to ceiling windows that allow the sunny London day to flood into the room.
A vanilla flavoured palate cleanser was a great way to get us ready for the treats that were to come…
A selection of beautifully prepared and presented savouries with a selection of finger sandwiches. A smoked dashi consomme is added to a delicious miso seared yellowfin tuna served with white asparagus, peas and gooseberry jelly. Cornish crab, tête de moine with pickled pearl onions, sea pursalane and lemon emulsion was delicious and light while smoked duck with shaved manchego, pineapple jam and horse radish is served on a brioche bun.
I know many people are in it for the sweets when it comes to afternoon tea, but I’m a sandwich girl so I love it when hotels go the extra mile. The finger sandwiches here are absolutely stuffed with filling, there’s definitely no stinging here! Juniper smoked salmon also comes with pickled veg, horseradish cream and watercress and is served on rye bread. Roast corn fed chicken is paired with spring onion and celery emulsion on onion bread.
Cucumber, garden sorrel, brown butter boursin cream on white bread is a twist on the classic whereas duck egg mayonnaise with mustard cress takes the humble egg sandwich to the next level. A vegetarian sandwich of grilled aubergine, piquillo peppers, olives, feta and hummus is served on tomato bread whilst my absolute favourite of the day was peppered pastrami, beef tomatoes, basil and cream cheese on granary bread.
Binny and I were lucky enough to meet Head Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat, who invented the tea and has kept it new and innovative for over ten years, changing with the times and fashions with inspiration taken directly from the catwalk. The tea has become so renowned the Mourad has legendary designers such as Jimmy Choo approaching him for collaborations.
I’m a big fan on the humble biscuit (what Brit doesn’t love one with their coffee or tea), and the tea includes two. The vanilla swimsuit biscuit comes straight from the Miu Miu catwalk and features a sunny yellow icing. The stylish stiletto is based on a Tom Ford design and includes hot pink icing on a chocolate biscuit base. One of my favourite desserts was the light as a feather Victoria sponge, fashioned into a handbag based on an Aruna Seth design. The cake includes red compote sandwiched between thin chocolate layers and is decorated with bright pink glaze and a signature diamond butterfly.
The Marilyn Monroe cake is unmistakably Versace. Psychadelic colours cover a mosaic joconde sponge topped with a rainbow meringue. Chef Mourad’s own favourite is one for chocoholics! Inspired by Erdem the Valrhona Caramelia mousse with hazelnut daquoise and salted caramel on a cocoa sable glazed with Gianduja mousse is sprinkled with gold flakes and topped with a red sugar bow. Dolce & Gabbana is one of my personal favourite designers and the show-stopping almond cake layered with apricot jelly, rhubarb confit and orange blossom cream topped with a chocolate Queen of Hearts, comes straight from their Spring / Summer 2018 collection.
Richard Quinn’s designs are loved by royalty and the upside down blackforest gateaux dress is a chocolate cone layered with chocolate and vanilla cream with cherries decorated with florescent flowers. The perfect accessory for every girl is the right pair of sunglasses, and these are inspired by Elie Saab. Made of chocolate and sitting on a tuille biscuit filled with raspberry cremeux and summer berry compote.
The final presentation is inspired by Ralph & Russo, a wafer cone filled with pineapple and kalamansi and topped with white peach ice cream on a baby pink chocolate frill.
There’s a good reason why the Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley Hotel is one of the most enduring in London. Not only is it beautiful, delicious and innovative but it’s always on trend and constantly updated to move with the times.
With stiff competition in London, afternoon tea has to be highly innovative or it’s just not going to make the cut, so to speak… But I’ve found one that is well and truly unique. 45 Park Lane is is the younger more trendy sister to London stalwart, The Dorchester. With a contemporary design, a focus on art and a smaller more boutique feel, there is a very personal and special style to this Dorchester Collection property. Steak restaurant CUT is the jewel in the crown of the hotel, and regular readers may remember me meeting owner, chef and legendary restauranteur, Wolfgang Puck when I sampled the wagyu beef served at the restaurant.
But this post of course about the brand new afternoon tea. CUTCakes & Tea takes an American twist on the classic, there’s not a finger sandwich in sight in the concept created by executive chef, David McIntyre.
Sticking with the theme we kicked off with J Vineyards, ‘Cuvée 20’, Russian River Valley, California sparkling wine. A bubbly almost imperceptible from champagne.
Mr S once asked me what’s the point of afternoon tea (er…cake, cake and more cake?) but I do believe that this is a tea that he could well and truly get on board with. He would absolutely loved the Wagyu Beef Slider with garlic aioli and sweet pickle which was perfectly cooked with a lovely fluffy bun. My absolute favourite was the tuna tartare ‘Sandwich’ which featured the freshest of tuna between croutons. Black truffle grilled cheese… I mean need I say more…
Fried chicken and buttermilk Bisquet with honey-jalapeño jam was another success, as was Lobster Po’Boy, a variation of a lobster roll on crisp, slightly sweet, homemade brioche with herb remoulade.
Though not quite American, the team at 45 Park Lane thought you just can’t have afternoon tea without scones. And the CUTCakes & Tea scones are utterly divine, huge and fluffy and served with clotted cream, strawberry and huckleberry compote.
As you can see the cakes are the real showstoppers!
The desserts are exactly what I think of when I think back to holidays in the states; indeed they are evoked by the chef’s childhood memories. The strawberry milk shake is pretty in pink with a cute candy striped straw. Graham Cracker S’mores are pretty much the best thing ever. Peanut Butter & Jelly Twinkie is a play on the classic American dessert but given the five -star treatment. Pastry chef Niamh Larkin created the Cola Cake and Caramel Corn Macaron to resemble a cheese burger and it’s oh so decadently delicious!
The pastries also come with a selection of cake pops including Pink Lemonade (my favourite) Cookies & Cream Cake and New York Cheesecake. Drinks-wise you can beat the current heat wave with Iced Tea or opt for the classic hot tea, coffee or hot chocolate
The Dorchester Collection always gets it right in coming up with new and innovative food and beverage ideas and this is once again one I’d highly recommend.
One of my favourite things about living in an old city like London is little pieces of history everywhere you go. The hotels of London have seen history in the making, scandals, intrigue, celebrities, famous politicians and their fair share of royalty. One of London’s most enduring hotels is Hotel Café Royal, a hotel that has enjoyed an unbeatable location on Regent Street for the past 150 years.
In all that time these walls have seen Winston Churchill come in for his favourite steaks, stilton and champagne, Oscar Wilde enjoy the unparalleled wine selection and well as Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali and Diana, Princess of Wales, to name just a few. The hotel closed in 2008 and underwent extensive restoration, reopening in 2012 along with glittering new decor, brand new restaurants and a beautiful spa.
The restoration is in keeping with the history of the hotel and historical rooms retain the 1860s and 1920s style including some gorgeous art deco touches. The grand foyer has this magnificent Murano glass chandelier made by the famous Italian glassmaker Vistosi
But take a turn off the foyer and you’ll find the Oscar Wilde lounge, the very room that Oscar Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. With the beautiful mirrored panels, intricate ceiling and sparkling lights, it’s one of the most beautiful hotel restaurants I’ve ever seen. Back in the day its where David Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust and Mick Jagger, the Beatles and Elizabeth Taylor partied, today it is where the hotel’s award-winning afternoon tea is served.
Up a beautifully gilded staircase you’ll find this gorgeous stained glass window before turning on to our destination for the night; the hotel’s new restaurant, Laurent.
The restaurant itself is very much in keeping with the stylish, classic design of the rest of the hotel with the golden bar at the end of the room being the focal point. The space has been entirely redesigned by Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni, who is also responsible for the beautiful foyer. The bar offers fine gins and whisky as well as inventive cocktails by Head of Bars & Beverages Fabio and Bar Manager Robbie.
Ordering up some cocktails (a peach bellini for me and a pear and champage cocktail for Mr S) we took a look at the menu which is based around a parilla grill for cooking meat and fish as well as a sushi bar.
After we ordered our waiter delivered some popovers to the table.
‘These are the signature popover of Chef Laurent Tourondel’ our waiter explained… ‘
Hang on a minute, I’ve had these before’ I replied.
There was no mistaking the light a fluffy popovers, a cross between bread and Yorkshire pudding, topped with Gouda and Cheddar and utterly, utterly addictive. It was when Mr S and I stayed and dined at LT Steak & Seafood whilst staying at a hotel called The Betsy in Miami. That was nearly four years ago and I still remember how amazing those popovers were – I’m so glad that we can now get them in London. Chef Laurent Tourondel was actually born in France where he trained before working in cities around the world. As well as this new London restaurant, and LT Steak & Seafood in Miami, he has numerous other restaurants in New York, Miami and Charlotte in North Carolina and as far afield as Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and the Caribbean.
I’ve always been a planner, and never one to do anything spontaneous… however with the deadline for my British Airways Tier point collection year coming up, I started thinking… I needed one more flight to maintain my Executive Club Member Silver status and so a ‘points run’ was in order. It may seem decadent to take a trip just to maintain your Executive Club status but it’s well worth it as Silver members have priority boarding, free seat selection, lounge access, extra baggage allowance and best of all 50% more Avios (airmiles) when you fly. (FYI NOT #spon by British Airways lol, I wish)
These are all benefits that I’d personally pay for so it’s worth getting in an extra flight in order to keep them for another year. Of course the idea of a points run is to keep the trip as inexpensive as possible so I tossed around a few options that were not only inexpensive to get to but also while you’re there – Amsterdam, Belgium and Edinburgh were on the table but my friend and I eventually settled on a night of fun in Barcelona. As a Soho House member, I get special rates at their hotels around the world and so we booked into a Medium Room at Soho House Barcelona for the night.
I love the aesthetic of the hotels in the Soho House Group (regular readers will know Soho Farmhouse is my favourite UK hotel) and the feeling of being in a home away from home. The downside (for a blogger / Instagrammer!) is that you can’t take photos around the hotel as it doubles as a private members club. But I could include some pictures of the room which start at ‘tiny’ and go up to ‘medium corner.’
Our Medium Marina room had a Juliet balcony with a spectacular view over Port Vell marina.
In the background I could the Hotel Arts where we’d stayed for Mr S’s birthday last year.
And the iconic W Hotel, with it’s wave like structure on the skyline. Leaving my suitcase in the room, I headed to the rooftop pool to meet Theresa, to keep things as easy as possible, she’d flown in from her home town of Bristol while I’d come in from London for the night. Ordering rosé and some nibbles, we took the chance to catch up whilst enjoying the vibes of the Soho House roof top. The upstairs bar has the feeling of an outdoor living room, it’s super comfortable and chilled whilst also being a fantastic scene. I will say though the pool is small and it’s not easy to get a sun lounger by it – it’s something I personally don’t mind but it would be a deal breaker for Mr S.
We headed to the room to get ready for our big night out when we were surprised by a mobile cocktail bar to our room! After polishing off a cocktail each we headed out for dinner at Tragaluz, a super stylish restaurant serving modern Spanish food. I highly recommend it! With it being a Monday we knew it wouldn’t be a crazy night so we finished off back at Soho House for more drinks. Knowing their guests are party animals, breakfast is served until super later 1pm, which was great for us as we didn’t make it there until 11am…
We had a quick look around the House which has a the Square Bar downstairs (including pic ‘n mix and a photo booth!), a Cowshed gym and spa and a cinema.
There’s also Cecconi’s on the ground floor, an Italian restaurant and Soho House classic brand, it’s a space available to members of the public whilst the rest of the building is for hotel guests and Soho House members.
Personally I loved Soho House Barcelona as it’s a lovely small and intimate hotel with a great vibe. The only negatives are the small pool and some people may not love the location. Hotel Arts is much bigger with more choice in terms of restaurants, bars and public spaces plus a much bigger pool though I personally think it’s lacking the atmosphere of Soho House, I prefer the beach front location. I’ve also stayed at Hotel Omm on a press trip which has a great location if you’re in Barcelona for shopping, a roof top pool and a Michelin star restaurant by the Roca brothers.
We wanted to do something a little cultural and not just spend the whole time eating and drinking and so we booked a tour at The Palau de la Música Catalana, a beautiful concert hall designed in the modernist Catalan style by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and inaugurated in 1908. I absolutely loved the mosaic pillars in the Sala Lluís Millet, a great hall in the building.
As well as the concert hall itself which represents a garden with elements of nature such as flowers, palm trees and fruit. There’s also a separate skylight that represents the sun and various other figures such as the muses, Wagner’s Valkyries and a bust of Beethoven. We even got to listen to the grand organ. The tour takes about an hour and we purchased our tickets on the door but they can be bought in advance online. The cost is 20EURO and the tours run every half an hour in different languages.
After our tour we were running a little late for lunch, I’d booked Bestial, a restaurant I’d spotted whilst staying at Hotel Arts on Barcelonetta Beach. But we arrived at 3pm by which time we would only have an hour to eat as they had an event coming in at 4pm. So we decided to head a few doors down to Agua, a restaurant I already knew.
The roar of the engine of a classic car as it whizzes past me on the race track, an excited crowd of people dressed in vintage clothing, drinking champagne and taking a ride in a helicopter. Those were just a few of the amazing experiences that I had last year at the Goodwood Revival, a festival celebrating the golden age of motoring and one of the flagship events held at The Goodwood Estate.
After such a fun day last year, I was excited to be invited back to the estate and experience more of what this 12,000 acre property has to offer. Home to the Duke of Richmond for over three hundred years, the property has an incredibly rich heritage both for sport and arts and is a rather unique place.
It’s an easy journey for me as the trains run directly from Victoria station to Chichester so in about an hour and a half, I had left London far behind and I had found myself in the Sussex countryside. If you’re planning on visiting the estate for one the flagship events (there’s the Festival of Speed and the Qatar Goodwood Festival as well as Goodwood Revival) or for one of the sporting experiences such as driving, golf or flying then the Goodwood Hotel makes the perfect base. Or maybe like me you’re there just to spend the day eating, drinking and indulging!
As a dedicated foodie, there’s nothing quite like knowing exactly where your food has come from and the new restaurant at the Goodwood Hotel does just that. Named Farmer, Butcher, Chef – the restaurant is a celebration of farm-to-table dining with the produce coming from the estate itself. My day of discovery started right at the origin as I was taken to see Goodwood Home Farm, a 3,400 acre organic farm that is at the very heart of the estate.
Farmer, Butcher, Chef is not just about high quality produce and fantastic food. It’s also about the personalities behind the restaurant’s story. The first of whom being farmer, Tim Hassell who has managed the farm for eight years. Tim told us that all the livestock is raised in the most compassion way possible and all crops grown on the estate are used to feed the livestock. We were taken on the tour of the farm with a chance to see the happy cows and their calves frolicking in the fields…
And the pigs enjoying a good roll around in the mud! Pigs are easily my favourite farm animal and there is a mixture of two traditional breed: Gloucester Old Spots and Saddlebacks, crossed with Large Whites. We also saw the cutest and tiniest piglets clustering around Mama Pig. The other main livestock bred at the farm are the lambs which particularly enjoy the chalk ground of the area for grazing.
After see the produce it was time to see how the butcher and chef worked with the livestock to create the show-stopping food served in the restaurant. Lined with lavender outside, Farmer, Butcher, Chef is also rather aesthetically pleasing.
And inside the bar and restaurant is reminiscent of a country pub; this isn’t white table cloth dining, it’s fun, casual and relaxed. It’s a place to take all the family but still enjoy really really good food.
Beer fans will be delighted to know that Goodwood Home Farm produces an organic ale and lager and has done for sixty years! The Goodwood Organic Ale and Lager is made with organically grown malted barley and hops to give the high-quality taste. It’s the perfect pairing with some of the signature bar snacks served at Farmer, Butcher, Chef as well as some of the locally produced cheeses.
The organic milk produced at Home Farm goes into making a range of handmade cheese in the estate’s own Cheese Room. There’s the Charlton which is rich and tangy, Levin Down (my favourite) soft and creamy and Molecomb Blue, an award-winning soft blue veined cheese.
I’ve made it my mission to bring you some of London’s best alfresco drinking spots this summer and I’ve got another new and exciting venue to tell you about. Last weekend Mr S and I headed to Underbelly Festival Southbank, a fusion of live circus, comedy and cabaret, currently in the tenth year at this location and live until the end of September. What’s a summer festival without a bar serving refreshing drinks? At Underbelly this comes in the form of not one but two bars from Rekorderlig, the very best Swedish Cider.
The festival had a fantastic buzzy atmosphere with everyone in high spirits during the London heatwave. It’s totally free to enter the festival and enjoy drinks at one of London’s biggest outdoor bars and street food such as Mexican from Hola Guacamole, Harrys Hot Dog Hut and Pizza Al Tagio at the Thames-side location. You can also purchase tickets for the shows, personally I have my eye on Circolombia, a spectacular circus show and Comedy Club 4 Kids sounds like a great option to take my nieces and nephews. There’s also a choose your own adventure option with The Silent Disco Show and Gals Aloud – a drag tribute to Girl Aloud. There’s a mixture of new cultures and arts – pretty much something for everyone.
Decked out in a seasonal Scandi setting, the Rekorderlig Botanicals bar gives guests that Beautifully Swedish experience that has become associated with the top-notch cider.
With organic decor and a flower wall, the interior of the bar is an Instagrammer’s dream!
Available at the bar are three new innovative flavours; all made with the purest Swedish water. I definitely recommend trying them all.
I absolutely loved the refreshing taste of Rhubarb-Lemon-Mint which just tastes of summertime with a sweet flavour and citrus and mint twist. At the bar you can also order the perfect serve in a goblet and enjoy the drink over ice with a sprig of mint and a squeeze of lime.
The Peach-Basil flavour has that mellow fruity flavour that is so beautifully complimented with a hint of basil. The best way to drink it is over ice with a sprig of basil and wedge of lemon.
Finally there’s Grapefruit-Rosemary which is just delicious over ice with a spring of rosemary.
Not only did I fall in love with the beautiful hotels of the Amalfi Coast, but the restaurants were also exquisite. With fresh seafood, the aroma of lemons everywhere and simply the best pasta, I was in seventh heaven! Here are the restaurants that we visited and places that I would recommend.
Located at luxury hotel Il San Pietro di Positano, Michelin-starred Zass serves the most divine food in an absolute gorgeous location.
By day it’s the most elegant lunch venue with flowers trailing down the archways, pink tables clothes and views of the coast line. I think this restaurant invented what was Instagrammable before that was even a thing!
For us lunch wee had fresh pasta, fresh fish and rosé wine in an atmosphere that was utterly elegant but also fairly informal.
By night Zass turns into one of the world’s most romantic restaurant, lit up by candles and with songs from an Italian opera singer.
The menu is pretty much the same from lunch to evening with a few additions such as a whole sea bass to share. Chef Alois Vanlangenaeker has been cooking for over 30 years and is dedicated to fresh and local ingredients, many of which are sourced from the hotel’s own garden.
For me, Zass is an unmissable experience while staying on the Amalfi Coast.
2. La Sponda
La Sponda is the Michelin-starred restaurant at Le Sirenuse, the other hotel that we stayed at while on holiday in Positano. Zass and La Sponda are the two restaurants that I would most highly recommend. We had two lunches at La Sponda, both times making the most of the incredible fresh pasta and fish and rose wine while enjoying a spectacular view of Positano…
By night the restaurant is lit up by 400 candles and we enjoyed the most romantic atmosphere and utterly exquisite food. The lunch and dinner menus are different and both include the best local produce with the dinner menu offering more refined dishes.
At the end of May our co-host Polly tweeted about spreading some sunshine with an act of kindness – her tweet went viral spreading love along with it! With that in mind we decided to stick with the theme of kindness for our travel link up. It’s a growing trend for luxury hotels to not only provide the very best experiences and accommodation but many also ‘give back’ to charity and the local community often with philanthropic projects. I thought I’d base this post around my favourite hotels and hotel collections that have spread their own kindness. As I’ve previously written about eco-friendly hotels, I won’t touch on this aspect of the hotels too much but sustainability often comes as part and parcel of these philanthropic hotels.
1. The Safari Collection
A couple of years ago I stayed in the famous Giraffe Manor in Nairobi and sister property Sasaab in Samburu, Kenya. Both hotels are part of the Safari Collection, a company that not only provides experiences that are both luxurious and authentic but also actively supports the local community.
I could write a whole blog just on the Safari Collection as the company does so much for the community. In terms of health care they partner with Community Health Africa Trust to provide family planning and education to the women, Medical and Educational Aid to Kenya (MEAK) to hold eye clinics for the communities and UK dental charity, SmileStar, to provide free dental and health treatments.
In terms of education they set up the The Safari Collection School Food Program to help combat malnutrition, they participate in a scholarship program and set up Team Talk a project intended to encourage empowerment of girls and improve health and sexual education through sport. They also have a young conservationist program, a school building program and have set up a charity called S.A.F.E Kenya with youth leaders in the community to stage music and theatre productions to address and raise awareness of FGM, HIV and women’s education, gender-based violence.
Not only that, but hotel are dedicated to the environment and sustainability with green initiatives rolled out throughout the properties. As African safari lodges they are also concerned with conservation and have set up the Mara Cheetah Project in order to protect the vulnerable species.
2. &Beyond Group
&Beyond Hotels were actually originally established to cater for the rising trend for ecotourism and sustainable travel. The core message of the company is “Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People” and has been rolled out in numerous properties around the world, mostly wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. A few years ago I stayed at &Beyond Mnemba Island, their luxury private island retreat in Zanzibar and it was one of my favourite hotels of all time!
&Beyond works in partnership with Africa Foundation to facilitate the development of rural communities living in or close to the Africa’s conservation areas with a focus on healthcare, education, promoting small businesses and the environment. For example since 1992, Africa Foundation has supported 80 schools and constructed over 200 classrooms including the development of Nkomo School in Mnqobokazi in partnership with &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
The Positive health program means a dedication to providing its staff with information to achieve freedom from poverty, malnutrition, gender inequity, stigma, HIV/AIDS and TB. The Lillydale Home-based Care Centre was set up to help those affected by AIDS and HIV.
The Happy Homes Preschool allows mothers to seek employment and currently looks after 180 children close to &Beyond Kirkmans Kamp.
These are just a few of the projects that &Beyond support – you could write a book on the number of things that they do to support the community and that’s without even getting started on support for the environment and wildlife.
Alila is a hotel group with luxury hotel based mainly in Asia. I’ve personally stayed at Alila Villas Uluwatu, a beautifully designed property in Bali.
Alila support the YPAB Foundation, a home that provides education and health care to orphaned children. The home also helps find foster families for the children.
4. Small Luxury Hotels
Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of Small Luxury Hotels which encompasses gorgeous little hotel gems around the world. I’ve stayed in lots of their hotels including Petit St Vincent, Hemingways and Hotel Romeo and many more!
What you may not know about the hotel collection is their charity affiliations. In 2014 and 2015 they raised over $1 million dollars for over 100 charities across the world, such as the British Red Cross, Macmillan Cancer Support, American Cancer Society and Save the Children.
5. Jade Mountain
Jade Mountain isn’t just the most beautiful hotel in St Lucia, but it’s also a hotel with heart! Owner Nick Troubetzkoy was one of the founding members of the Soufriere Foundation, a organisation set up to help the local community.
The resort was also built by a local workforce in support for the economy of the area.
Singita, a group of safari lodges in Africa dedicated to community, conservation and sustainability. Their work with the local community is absolutely integral and they are dedicated to a three-fold program of educating children, development of local businesses and awareness of conservation in the community.
As with &Beyond and The Safari Collection, Singita runs far too many community projects to list in this blog post but a few examples are the Feeding Program to help malnourished children in Zimbabwe, the Gorwing to Read program to help child development and The Community Culinary School to train chefs.
Sitting in the garden, drinking our coffees with the sun beaming on to our faces…we could almost be back in Italy. But we’re not…we’re in the New Forest for the weekend experiencing a perfect slice of British country life. And The Pig Hotel in Brockenhurst is the ideal way to do it… you’re sort of in a luxury hotel, you’re sort of on the farm and you sort of feel like you’re at home. Somehow the team at The Pig have managed to create the perfect blend and it’s something Lauren and I named ‘comfy luxury’ when we stayed at sister hotel, The Pig of the Beach in Studland in Dorset.
Let me explain a bit more… The Pig in Brockenhurst in the New Forest was the first of five Pig hotels located around the South of England. It’s clear how popular this brand has become as there are three more Pigs in the making. I booked our stayed here back in October, a good seven months before as it is so hard to find weekend availability.
The country house is the heart of the hotel and the location of all the public areas.
With paisley fabrics, eclectic furnishings, mismatched rugs, the lounge area could easily be the living room of a farm-house yet it still has that feeling of being perfectly put together. Either way you wouldn’t feel shy of kicking back in that over stuffed sofa and even falling asleep after lunch. I’m aware the rustic feel isn’t for everyone and some may look at these pictures and think that’s not luxury, but actually it’s a different type of luxury and The Pig reminds me of my favourite UK hotel, Soho Farmhouse.
A second lounge area leads into a light and bright conservatory and summer terrace – the perfect place to enjoy your rosé and flat breads from the wood-fired oven.
Otherwise there’s the bar which feels like your favourite local pub, the perfect place for cosy autumn nights, for an aperitif before dinner or to stop in for the night with friends. So often nowadays luxury travel is about a search for authenticity and a search for real experiences … this doesn’t have to be trekking in the mountains or dune bashing, it really be discovering what normal life is like for English country dwellers.
But the true heart of the hotel is the restaurant – the hotel is also referred to a restaurant with rooms.
Going back to that feeling of the familiar… the restaurant feels a little bit like dad’s greenhouse… there’s absolutely zero pretension here, just good food. With quirky tiles, pots plants and airy windows, it may not be what you typically think of luxury but that’s what cosy luxury is…that feeling of being at home.
The USP is everything is as local as possible, much of the produce is grown in the hotel’s walled garden and the menu changes depending on what the forager brings in that morning. In fact, Chef James Golding;s right hand men are the forager and kitchen gardener…
Breakfast is a lovely little farm table with homemade granola, local ham and cheese…
And you can toast your own bread in retro Dualit toasters or..