October 20, 2015
We've received the keys to Combe House Hotel!
...And here is an interview with Robin Hutson for the Western Morning News
THE PIG-at Combe will be the first in Devon, and whilst a little further from London than the other Pigs it has great access to the A30, M5 and A35, making it the perfect location for a weekend away from the big City.
CEO of Home Grown Hotels Robin Hutson said "It's a great location because you have Gittisham, Honiton, Taunton and Exeter nearby for a good mix of people."
Our intention is to increase the number of bedrooms to around 33 by converting the stable yard and other under-used buildings and spaces. The loft of the main house will be transformed into spacious rafter bedrooms. The original Georgian kitchen with a working range, along with original artwork and treasures throughout the house will be retained. A 600-year old thatched Devon longhouse will also be available for guests.
We are still waiting for listed building consent and planning permissions to come through but once it has work will begin on the £9 million renovation which will see Combe House (near Honiton) transformed into the usual Pig style thanks to Robin's wife Judy Hutson.
Robin says of working with his wife: "We spend our lives hunting things down together in antique shops wherever we go. I work with my wife every day which I see as a bonus. Too often people spend all their time at work and don't get to see their partners."
THE PIG-at Combe guests can expect a relaxed country house atmosphere from the hotel, known just as much for its Kitchen Garden restaurant as for accommodation.
THE PIG brand is part of the Home Grown Hotels chain, co-founded in 2009 of which Robin says:
"We have been successful in our operations but I don't ever take that for granted. These projects are very complex and very capital intensive. It is costly and there are risks so I don't ever think it's a question of opening the door and bingo.
"I like to observe what's going on and predict what people are looking for even before they realise it. It is about gut feeling and observation as much as anything else."
The kitchen garden and restaurant will be at the heart of the venture, and like the other Pigs all produce served on the menu will be sourced within a 25-mile radius of the hotel.
The Grade I-listed Elizabethan Manor was voted 'The Best Restaurant in South West England 2015' by readers of Food magazine and named Devon's Hotel of the Year 2010 and was included in the Sunday Times Magazine Worldwide Top 100 Hotels. Awards and accolades which THE PIG team hope to continue to bring to the hotel.
Robin said: "It has a good reputation for food and I think that our style will be a little more relaxed. We don't just want people to think of us for special occasions but be just as happy coming for a soup and salad on a wet Tuesday."
Robin doesn't like the word 'luxury' to define the Pig hotels. "It sounds too formal and gold-plated. A journalist wrote recently that we do non-shiny very well and I think that is a good way of looking at it. We are just as likely to buy a rusty light fitting as a shiny brass one.
"It is not glitzy. It is affordable within the market place. I would rather use words like comfortable, exciting, interesting, passionate. We want to create somewhere where people can relax, that is our style and that is what we personally like."
THE PIG-at Combe is due to open in the Summer of 2016.