Looking for places to stay in Kent? Want a luxurious yet relaxed hotel near Canterbury? Read our hotel review and check out the best places to eat in Kent here…
The Pig at Bridge Place in a nutshell
Just three miles from Canterbury, this carefully converted Jacobean mansion is the latest Pig to join a now six-strong litter. Style-wise, it ticks every Pig box: a focus on the kitchen garden, a relaxed restaurant and homely but luxurious bedrooms.
This is a happy place. From Pia the sommelier, who decorates biscuits for young guests in between recommending wines, to cheery head chef Kamil (“every day I feel lucky”), The Pig team wants to be here. The effect is a contagiously uplifting atmosphere.
The Grade II-listed building at the hotel’s heart, once bright pink in places (it was a popular nightclub in its heyday, hosting the likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd), has been expertly restored during a £5.5million makeover. A new red-brick wing houses most of the bedrooms while, aside from the addition of log stoves, the original 17th-century house looks exactly its age. An imposing elm staircase takes centre-stage, while cosy snugs are great places to sit and ponder, with huge open fireplaces, gnarled wooden panelling and Persian rugs. The bar, refreshingly bedecked with female portraits, is all mahogany and maroon and, as with all Pig bars, is generously stocked with multi-coloured cocktail glasses that shimmer on window shelves.
Which room should I book at The Pig at Bridge Place?
There’s a lot of choice. Extremely Small rooms are just that, while Cosy rooms have views of the kitchen garden and a trickling stream (apparently, this once-dry section of the Nailbourne river started flowing again when The Pig team moved in). The more you spend, the bigger your room, but all are finished to a superb standard and come with complimentary background birdsong – we spotted a treecreeper and a nuthatch on our visit.
Some bedrooms benefit from original doors, four poster beds and freestanding baths, though all have mini bars stuffed with Kentish treats (grab a bag of crisps, made with Canterbury’s very own Ashmore farmhouse cheese). You can also stay in a hop pickers’ hut – a romantic log cabin for two, set on stilts in the water meadows near the kitchen garden – or a family-friendly two-bedroom lodge, complete with kitchen.
The food and drink
Pigs don’t stand on ceremony – there are no white tablecloths or leather-bound menus here. Instead, expect cheery waiting staff and a dining room that wouldn’t look out of place at a posh garden centre (there are potted herbs everywhere, and rows of giant Kilner jars stuffed with exciting things like salted oranges and forced rhubarb). The restaurant’s biggest commitment is to locality: what can’t be grown in the kitchen garden, which you can see from your table, is mainly sourced from within a 25-mile radius, including Kentish Pip apples and wild meat from Mallards Farm.
Every table comes with a bottle of olive oil infused with kitchen garden herbs (juniper and rosemary on our visit), and a little pot of homemade smoked salt that smells like saunas. Mix the two together, and you’ll be dipping sourdough into it all evening. Other than such simple pleasures, the best things to order from a mix-and-match menu include dainty vol-au-vents made with zero-mile mushrooms (you can see the little hut they’re grown in from your seat), smokehouse carrots with red mizuna and local rapeseed oil, and juicy Sandwich Bay mackerel with pickled fennel. To drink, there are Shepherd Neame beers, dozens of Kentish wines to choose from (including bottles from Simpsons Estate and Chapel Down) and cocktails made from spirits infused with homegrown produce, such as chilli vodka.
This is a real feast. Try dairy-free banana bread, stewed home-grown rhubarb, and nut-free muesli with coconut yogurt. Or, indulge in The Full Pig-Out, made special by the addition of zero-mile mushrooms and poached eggs from the hotel’s hens (they keep quails, too).
What else can foodies do?
That classic Pig ethos – allow what’s growing outside to guide the menu – makes for a beautiful kitchen garden. Cross a wooden bridge to wander around immaculate rows of elephant garlic, lemon drop, young peach trees and over 1,000 other plants, herbs and vegetables.
Is it family friendly?
Despite it’s perfectly polished interiors, The Pig actively welcomes children, and staff are happy to see them. There’s a children’s menu at the restaurant, travel cots on request, and even a tree swing to play on (equally fun for adults).
There’s a stall in the kitchen garden that sells wood-fired flatbreads and beer during the day. Ask for the smoky chorizo topping and eat it on one of the tables laid out next to hop vines.
Words by Charlotte Morgan
Photographs by Jake Eastham