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A luxurious retreat in the heart of Kent: THE PIG at Bridge Place

Where rural bolthole meets rock ‘n’ roll past, boutique hotel meets farm-to-table and secluded romanticism with contemporary heritage is a guarantee, Samantha Ready is more than ready for a PIG revisit…

As busy town roads gave way to winding country lanes that caress the outskirts of Kent’s cathedral town of Canterbury, it was hard to believe that it had been so long since my first stay at the then newly opened sixth addition to THE PIG litter, THE PIG at Bridge Place.

Today, it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t always been here. Its kitchen gardens now bursting with produce, the animals meandering the estate grown in generational number, and the reputation for THE PIG at Bridge Place’s laid back yet luxurious boutique hotel and locavore restaurant offering solidified with a clutch of award wins and myriad of returning guests.

Offering the perfect combination of laid back luxurious boutique hotel with epitome of food miles, THE PIG at Bridge Place not only boasts those aforementioned busting kitchen gardens which dictate the hyper local menu offerings from the open kitchen restaurant, but also a speakeasy style gin bar, with many of the the ground’s botanicals found amongst the curated cocktail list, and an array of sumptuous bedrooms. 

There are the seven characterful and traditional bedrooms found in the painstaking restored original Jacobean house, which is also home to cosy fireside lounges, hidden reading nooks and that gin bar. The beautifully sympathetic yet modern Coach House extension provides a further 12 contemporary bedrooms beside the courtyard, itself the perfect place for alfresco lunches or pre-dinner drinks, as well as being home to the main kitchen and dining room. While walks beside the Nailbourne stream take you first to the two family friendly lodges and onwards to the decked frontage of the seven Kentish Hop Pickers huts, with their wood burning stoves and cosy double bedrooms sitting on stilts alongside the river.

Yet amongst all of this, and the panoramic Kentish countryside views aided by the estate’s own 10-acre plot of extensive grounds and gardens there is yet one further very special abode – The Barn.

So special it was originally the owner’s own secluded bolthole pad, the spacious two-storey free-standing outbuilding, converted from the old stable block in the grounds, is a romantic’s dream; quadruple aspect, far-reaching views over the water meadows and kitchen gardens, and an interior finish mix of reclaimed timber, rough cast plaster and traditional fabrics, with contemporary touches of a monsoon shower, plump pillows and DAB radio.

Opening the heavy wooden door reveals a spacious yet instantly cosy downstairs lounge with wood burner, plump sofas and a huge pantry with everything from fresh milk and eggs to coffee and a mini bar. Upstairs you’ll find the master suite with king-size bedroom and huge bathroom complete with roll top bath. Effortlessly melding the charm of its historic surroundings with a modern, sophisticated ambiance, it makes for an exquisite haven for those seeking a retreat that seamlessly marries luxury and authenticity. It honestly is as wonderful as it sounds.

Reluctant to leave my newfound PIG abode, there are of course a few key lures… Aside from the gin bar of course, guests can treat themselves to a reinvigorating massage at the delightfully secluded Potting Shed treatment rooms and of course there is the taste-bud tempting food-miles driven dinner menu too.

Driven by the unwavering ethos of garden-to-plate dining that underpins every PIG, the farm-to-table approach celebrates the county and indeed THE PIG at Bridge Place’s own kitchen garden produce to create a collection of hyper local, hyper seasonal dishes, driven by a triangulated team of chef, gardener and forager, with fresh ingredient simplicity at its core, all served in a rustic-luxe dining space filled with signature PIG touches: wooden tables set with herbs, bountiful jars of preserved and pickled fruits and vegetables, and in a nuance to other PIG offerings, unobstructed views to the bustling yet calm open kitchen pass.

The 25 Mile Menu is carefully structured into ‘Bits’ – think ‘Garden Bits’ such as crispy gherkins and mushroom vol-au-vents; ‘Piggy Bits’ such as crackling and apple sauce, and my personal fave, honey and mustard chipolatas; and ‘Fishy Bits’ like haddock fritters and whipped cod’s roe, and starters before reaching its fully ‘eat-local’ fanfare of ‘garden, greenhouse and polytunnel’ grown salads and sides and the ‘Garden of England, North Sea and Channel’ main course offerings that read like a who’s who of Kentish producers: Brogdale chicken, Iden Green partridge, and Dungeness cod…

We were salivating even before the baked Rye Bay scallops with Tempus No.8 nduja and pickled fennel, and Broxhall farm beef shin, slow cooked and smothered in red wine sauce atop cheesy mash (a fabulous recommendation from our attentive server, Acacia) arrived.

For our main, although tempted by the likes of fillet of line caught bass, chargrilled Tamworth pork chop, and a black garlic risotto, it was another house recommendation of the daily special bone-in steak sharer that won out. Delectably charred and served with triple-cooked chips, peppercorn and bearnaise sauces, and a cheeky extra side (of highly recommended) crispy tobacco onions it was promptly devoured!

Slow Braised Organic Lamb Neck, Mountain Mint, Peas and Broad Beans

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