January 6, 2013
Review courtesy of Alex Larman at The Arbuturian
What good things spring to mind when you think of Southampton? The Titanic, up to a point. Some fine medieval buildings. And, perhaps, the Spitfire, which was first designed here. What doesn’t normally occur to most people is that a city synonymous with a certain post-war greyness and grimness could be home to one of the country’s most delightfully stylish and cosy pied-à-terres.
But it is. All oink to The Pig – in the Wall, sister establishment to the much-loved The Pig hotel outside Brockenhurst that, between the two of them, have shaken up the dusty old clichés of what a country house hotel, and now B&B, should be.
The Empress of Blandings and I headed down one wet, miserable afternoon to a city that looked as if the sea was going to rise up and engulf it at any moment (some might argue that this was an improvement). Asking to go to The Pig – in the Wall led our taxi driver to tell us a long, and I suspect fraudulent, anecdote about how this was a technical term for a piece of jerry-building; perhaps it is in Southampton. Certainly, what hasn’t been jerry-built is the quite stunning place we found ourselves deposited at. Walking in, you find yourself in the perfect simulacrum of an English country house shabby-chic drawing room, with a substantial wooden dresser in pride of place, a roaring fire (albeit one more gently murmuring when we visited) and stylishly mismatched furniture and crockery. It has the feel of your eccentric great-aunt’s retreat, where visits are always a pleasure. It is sumptuous, but not in an overpowering way; instead, the temptation is to leave one’s shoes and cares behind, and relax....