If you live in Norfolk, chances are you’ve heard of The Pigs. It’s becoming a bit of an institution – it started life as a lovely country pub, and in recent years it’s been transforming itself into a pub-with-rooms, with its boutique-style accommodation making it a fantastic hotel in its own right. And did I mention the spa suites? A room with your very own sauna and steam room, complete with a private courtyard and outdoor fire pit. Heaven! So, when my husband and I were wondering what treat we could get each other for Christmas last year, this seemed like the perfect choice – and over the May bank holiday we finally got to try it out.
Your traditional country pub stepped up a notch. The Pigs’ latest round of refurbishments has transformed the bar, lounge and restaurant areas into something sleek and modern with a good dose of country character thrown in – think lovely fireplaces and log burners, but with chandeliers, contemporary light fittings and pristine tiles. It works. Oh, and you’ll spot something pig-related at every turn.
It’s family-friendly but you won’t find screaming kids everywhere; there’s a fantastic outdoor play area to keep them entertained, and a games room to keep both youngsters and the young-at-heart occupied (including pool tables, shuffleboard and even a Lego station). It’s dog-friendly too, a must in a Norfolk country pub, and they’ve even got a doggy menu to keep your four-legged friends happy.
Amazing! The sleeping area itself isn’t particularly big, but within it you’ve got a huge, comfortable bed, a small table and chairs, dressing table, sofa and built-in wardrobes. But this isn’t why you’re here – you’re here for the spa facilities, and WOW are they impressive! Once you walk from the bedroom to the bathroom/spa area you’re met with a sleek, bright room, complete with an impressive roof window that floods the place with light, and patio doors leading out to the private courtyard beyond.
You’ve got a separate sauna, rainfall shower and steam room on one side, and on the other you’ve got twin sinks, a dual-bathing tub, a separate toilet cubicle and a huge mirror. Hanging up are your robes and slippers, and soft fluffy towels are hung on the copper radiator, perfectly in-keeping with the style of the room. The usual features such as in-room toiletries are abundant, and they’ve even provided blankets for outdoor use.
Outside you’ll find your fire pit and log store, two wooden sun loungers and a drench bucket, with high enough brick walls so that it feels private without being oppressive. A few solar lights and two simple trough-style garden areas complete the outside space. It’s the most perfect suntrap, too, great for afternoon cocktails and morning coffees.
We were blown away by it. The attention to detail was fantastic, and walking into your very own spa area feels ridiculously indulgent. You can actually control the temperature of the sauna to get it just how you like it – unlike with some saunas that are pre-set – and everything felt completely high-end and luxurious. Our only complaint was that the lights in the main living/sleeping area could have been brighter – this part of the room didn’t have any windows so it was a little dark, but it’s a minor complaint. Overall, it’s a beautifully-styled, exceptional room, that’s become an instant favourite.
If having your own sauna and steam room isn’t enough, The Pigs has a separate full-service spa, as well as a spa garden. While we didn’t have any treatments, a 45-minute session in the spa garden was included in the room price, so it had to be done.
We walked in to find a candle-filled room that housed a huge hot tub, complete with sun chairs, a wine fridge and a small outside space, bi-fold doors thrown open to bring in the light. As with everything else about The Pigs, it had that rustic edge – shabby chic on another level. We’d brought in our own prosecco and quickly got into the hot tub, glasses in hand, and relaxed.
We didn’t see another soul – the room’s left free for your pre-booked slot, and we weren’t disturbed for the entire time. It’s a bit of added indulgence that’s well worth doing if you’re staying here.
I’ve eaten in the restaurant a few times before and the food it always fantastic, and this time it was no exception. The Pigs is famous for its “Iffits” – Norfolk-style tapas – that make the perfect starter, or if you share several they could be a great main meal if you’re feeling tapas-y. So, as soon as we’d checked in and changed into our bathrobes, the first thing we did was order a couple of Iffits to hold us over until dinner, with a cocktail each thrown in to wash it down.
As you can see, they were pretty impressive – the ham hock scotch egg with piccalilli was beautiful, if a little oily from the fryer, while the potted pork with apple chutney was divine. Definitely two options to get again. Oh, and the Twisted Tail cocktails (gin, homemade lemonade and cucumber) weren’t too bad either…
We’d booked a table at the restaurant for later that evening, but on discovering that we could comfortably dine in-room, we cancelled it and ordered room service instead. Dinner without needing to change out of our bathrobes? Bliss! Timings were slightly awkward as our slot at the spa garden had been booked for 8pm rather than my requested 5 o’clock, but they happily worked around it – we ordered our main meals before our spa session and asked for our dessert to be delivered at 9pm, and it worked perfectly.
Again, everything was exceptional. My salad was particularly tasty – it’s always a welcome surprise when a salad really is as amazing as you hope it will be! – and my husband’s steak was perfectly cooked. Later on we shared the desserts, opting for a chocolate tart and a fabulous cheeseboard, the latter of which we ate in the courtyard while snuggled up under blankets, sipping wine and warming ourselves in front of the fire pit, accompanied by the occasional toasted marshmallow. Perfect.
And what about breakfast? Again, eaten in-room, with a choice of The Pigs’ 15-mile breakfast – where everything on your plate is sourced from within 15 miles, meaning you’re getting beautifully local and fresh produce – or a number of other dishes, including scrambled eggs and salmon, which was my choice. Coffees and juice accompanied it, as did a plate of toast, crumpets and English muffins. What more could you ask for?!
Beautiful food once again, although I think Mr M was expecting slightly more from the 15-miler – at first glance it appears slightly on the small side for a full English, though he conceded afterwards that there was actually plenty! Again, everything was brought to our room, and when we called back up to request some jams we were soon accommodated. Fantastic service, which leads us on to…
From start to finish, the service we received was fantastic. We were personally shown to our room on arrival and told how the facilities worked, and they didn’t bat an eyelid at our repeated calls to reception for more food/wine/cocktails. Oh, and they didn’t charge for room service either; everything was brought to us completely free of charge, no tray fee payable.
The little touches on offer made the whole experience even more enjoyable. For instance, I particularly liked the honesty bar area, which not only included said honesty bar – complete with an actual piggy bank – but plenty of added extras, such as marshmallows, sweets and biscuits, different scented oils for the sauna, bath salts with dried flower petals, and even freshly-baked apple cake. Guests were free to help themselves, and it really added something to the stay.
First class. I loved everything about our time at The Pigs – I mean who wouldn’t love having their own private sauna?! – and I’m sure we’ll be back, both for the restaurant, and for another overnight stay. Ideally in the brand new room…
At the time of writing, The Pigs has just unveiled The Wallow, its most luxurious room yet. It includes all the features of the spa suite but on a larger, grander scale, and it even comes with its own hot tub out on the decking area of the room’s private courtyard. That’s my kind of suite!
The price of a stay isn’t particularly cheap, but if you sign up for a Norfolk Passport you get 10% off, which makes it a bit more palatable (and sometimes there are offers for 20% off; make sure to keep a lookout!). Besides, I’m pretty sure that what you’re getting for your money is more than worth it, and if it’s a special treat you can’t go wrong. When can I go back?