‘They used to have grab-a-granny nights here,’ whispers my informant as we pull up to a movie-star-gorgeous, 16th-century manor house in the middle of the Kent countryside. ‘It used to be the nightclub round here in the 1970s. Before that, The Kinks even played here.’ This is an unlikely teaser to the latest addition to the Pig litter, Judy and Robin Hutson’s ultra-popular food-with-rooms chain that champions understated luxury and the kitchen garden on your plate.
But inside, in the communal bar, snugs and lounge areas, you can feel the rock’n’roll vibe in all the right ways — sumptuous, claret-velvet sofas? Check. A take-your-pick wall of coloured glasses to pimp your drinks? Check. Posters for The Yardbirds in the ladies’ loos? Check.
Owner Judy grew up in the genteel village of Bridge Place, which is three miles south of Canterbury, but was never allowed to come to this louche house of hedonism, so her note-perfect £8million refurb is not just a labour of love, it’s a triumphant reclamation of one of Kent’s most fabulous architectural characters.
You can start the bijou blow-out in the well-stocked bar, continue it in the bright conservatory restaurant, then sleep it off in one of the seven rooms in the main house, one of a further 12 rooms in the Coach House, one of the stilted Hop Pickers’ Huts across the trickling brook, or in the romantic, two-floored Barn, which has a bathroom the size of a studio flat and comes complete with a free-standing bath just crying out to be filled with champagne. Now that’s rock’n’roll.
USP: The kitchen garden-to-table concept – you’ll be sleeping amid pretty rows of mint, fennel and sage that’ll likely feature on next day’s 25-Mile Menu. Within a selection that’s fishy, green and unashamedly meaty, you’ll get the likes of ‘Mostly Picked This Morning’ spring pea risotto (£8/£16), Folkestone market hake (with some of that fennel, £18) and a surprisingly tasty side of nettles (£3.95). For the ultimate in carnivorous artery-clogging, plump for beef pie and mash (£20), so big and unctuous that when you’ve finished you’ll need a moment. Or three.
Who goes there: Monied, epicurious Londoners — it’s only 56 minutes from King’s Cross.
Venture out: Canterbury’s cobbles are a short drive away while the arty seaside towns of Margate, Deal and Whitstable are nearby. And if the Pig’s cellars aren’t enough, note that you’re in Kentish wine country. Its plethora of vineyard tours will have you rueing the next morning’s check-out time.
■ Double rooms from £99, thepighotel.com