Want to feel you own, momentarily, an English country house? The Pig at Harlyn Bay, which opened on 31 July 2020, is already the hottest rural find in the UK. This 17th-century house, 500 metres from one of Cornwall’s best sandy surf beaches, has become the seventh comfortable paradise in The Pig family.
Drive west from London, four to seven hours depending on traffic (or train, to Bodmin Moor or Newquay) to another world. Past a deliberately wild front garden, with pairs of wood Adirondack loungers and past all-day Lobster Shed dining, to the hotel. Its 26 bedrooms are in the two-floor house or in new buildings that perfectly blend – there are also four quirky shepherd huts, next to the highly impressive and productive walled kitchen garden.
Room five, up 19 stairs to the house’s upper floor, was six by six metres in space, with a bathroom curlicue, so to speak. Think recycled wood floors, heavy antique wood furniture, including a cabinet for the glass-fronted mini-bar, and a Kitchen Maid espresso machine and tea kettle. Add Celestron binoculars for looking east to the sea and pairs of sockets both sides of the carved bed frame with faultless Wi-Fi (free, like charging for electric cars). Pair in old-fashioned Burlington long-chain water closet with instant-heat walk-in shower and Bamford toiletries.
Downstairs, a succession of interconnecting rooms offers many opportunities for contemplation. I look round the bar, study Padstow Brewing Company beers, and note how the dark floral wallpaper is twinned with the upholstery in the adjacent hall, a gallery of old Cornwall prints. I walk past rows of Wellington boots, dark green and blue for adults, buttercup and fuchsia for kids. The 80 team members are all, it seems, are under 25, but operate with ageless thoughtfulness and unfailing professional passion and wear pink (or rather pale hue shirts, complementing grey neckties, sage-coloured waist aprons, blue jeans and Converse trainers).
Food is a lesson in local. My beetroot, strawberry and rocket salad is homegrown. My Philip Warren sirloin has travelled 35 kilometres (I know, thanks to a map on the reverse of the single-sheet A4 menu, updated daily). ‘Puddings’ include, guess what, an addictive wobbly jelly, gin and tonic flavoured. I drink Pig Hut Red Grenache and Syrah, by M Chapoutier, and Belu water, benefiting WaterAid. On another visit, I confess, I could exist off dinner’s sensational wholemeal chunky bread slices, especially decadent with herb-infused olive oil – and what about chef Adam Bristo’s sensationally naughty triple-cooked potato-chip fries, in their own flower-pot container? At breakfast I went simple, berry compote and yoghurt, granola, followed by oh-so-British smoked kipper.
Next time I will stay longer in ‘my’ English country house, to take in a Potting Shed pampering treatment, try that surf or at least walk the beach and beyond. I want to learn how this Pig still has original 1635 moulded-plaster ceilings, and how come that four-metre naval oil on the stairwell is, despite its generations-old frame, marked 2020?