Muddy Reviews: The PIG at Harlyn Bay, Padstow
The Pig at Harlyn Bay was one of Cornwall’s most anticipated hotel openings back in early 2020 and this Cornish coastal countryside retreat did not disappoint when Muddy finally managed to nab a room.
Owners Robin and Judy Hutson always swore they would never open an outpost of The Pig so far away from London, but we are so pleased they did.
A stone’s throw, well, a short amble across the fields anyway, from the white sands of Harlyn Bay (above, late one July evening), the seventh incarnation of The Pig hotel group is a grand grey stone country manor, dating back in parts to the 15th century.
Judging by the full carpark and bookings which have not abated, we aren’t alone in being pleased to have a Cornish PIG. Muddy finally managed to stay (this review was initially scheduled for 2020 and then 2021 and thwarted by numerous lockdowns) in November 2021, so it really was third time’s a charm.
Once a family home which had fallen on understandably hard times, then rescued by the Hutsons and lovingly restored, the main building sits in around 12 acres that includes gardens, courtyards, four bespoke shepherd huts, kitchen gardens and a separate second restaurant, the dog-and-kid-friendly Lobster Shed (below).
Far-reaching sea views, oodles of quirks and character and stacks of original features woven into the Medieval, Jacobean, Georgian and newer stone buildings give this place a real homely feel. 11 bedrooms can be found in the main house with a further fifteen in the Stonehouse.
The Pig Hotels have cornered the market in laid-back luxe, and this one one on the majestic North Cornish coastline beyond Padstow is no exception. Yes, it’s posh but it’s friendly and warm, and above all, wants you to relax and enjoy the many, many comforts. It’s a bit like staying in your fanciest friend’s massive country pile, only with more fires lit, so it’s actually warm and cosy.
A good deal of the vibe is owed to the staff, who are, as you’d expect if you’ve visited any of the other PIGS, awesome. In the nicest way, they always seem to know where you are, so you’re never left sitting waiting wondering if anyone might ever appear to take a drinks order – and they’ll reserve you your fave spot in one of the snugs, or the gorgeous bar, below, for drinks.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The Scullery restaurant in the main house has several areas including a wooden panelled dining room, what used to be the stone garage now converted into a fine looking breakfast room (above), and as you pass into the older part of the main house, a huge dining table (below) with backdrop of the smoker used for the meats destined for your table – which seats 10, as well as a separate and secluded private dining room complete with huge wooden doors.
The staff are a knowledgeable bunch, headed up by Head Somm Greg Turner and Bar Manager Jo, alongside Restaurant Manager Steph, with no wine, drinks or food question too much or too silly. There’s plenty of options by the glass, but an extensive and well-chosen list for those that enjoy a good old peruse whilst thinking about their food pairings (and having been over for dinner several times with friends too, I’ve managed to try quite a lot of it!).
The Pig’s schtick, food wise, is its 25 mile provenance including that grown in the onsite kitchen garden (below) and lovingly prepared by Head Chef Adam Bristow and his team. Food is, as you’d hope, seasonal and dictated by what has been grown, caught, shot, foraged or reared locally, with all the usual top-notch producers appearing on the menu, including Philip Warren, Murts Shellfish, various local fish mongers, and my personal fave Cornish cheese, Cornish Gouda. Adam’s style is full-on-flavour, with sauces packed full of it.
After extensive testing over a number of visits, and trying out every possible combination of snacks, drinks, dinner and lunch, I can report that everything I have eaten has been a delight. Secretly, though, if I were forced to choose the thing that has stuck in my mind the longest, it would be the puddings, with my absolute favourite being the Forager’s Shot: a little palette cleansing fruit granita in a vintage tea cup, which prepares you nicely for the proper pudding, no matter how full you might think you were after mains.
I’ve also really enjoyed the mismatched plates, flatware and glassware – I have a thing for vintage crockery and there is a real charm to clinking smaller glasses which don’t all look and sound the same.
Aside from the 11 stylish bedrooms in the main manor house, there’s a separate, sympathetically designer new build, The Stonehouse, offering another 15 rooms, which is where we were tucked up for the night. With very on-trend bobbin furniture and a freestanding bath under the window (and a shower and loo tucked away by the entrance) the room was both spacious and super cosy – just the place to tuck up for a winter night.
As with the rest of the PIG the toiletries were Bramley, which are south-west based and totally natural and organic, and in these Covid times also came in the form of mini hand sanitizers to take out and about. All the usual things you’d expect from a luxe hotel room were present and correct: Roberts radio, coffee machine, dressing gowns and slippers, as well as crisp white sheets on a very comfortable bed, alongside extra touches including binoculars and even a couple of books to read and umbrellas to get you back to the main building in the Cornish rain.
If you are looking for something more unusual than an ordinary hotel room, also on offer in the grounds are four shepherd huts (known as ‘garden wagons’) that have hit Covid gold – set well apart from one another, they offer individual contained luxury with a wood-burning fire, roll top bath, kitchenette and even a private al fresco shower to wash away the beach and give the squirrels a fright.
The gorgeous rustic looking spa, The Potting Shed, is tucked away at the end of the kitchen garden, and offers a bijou selection of treatments. Last year these were available to residents only but this year, open to all. My full body sugar scrub was a refreshing and all-over exfoliation and certainly got my day off to a bright start. With only two treatment rooms at the very end of the garden, the setting is extremely tranquil and very calm, quiet and relaxing.
OUT AND ABOUT
There’s no real need to leave of course, but, if you are after a town, you’re a mere 10 minutes from Padstow (above) here – a big calling card for tourists, where you’ll find shops and restaurants all clustered round the central harbour.
Harlyn Bay itself is one of the so-called seven bays, which are all lovely bays round the headland from Padstow, so plenty of beach choices, as well as great walking along the coastpath, and up to the Trevose Lighthouse.
Harlyn is a beautiful white crescent beach, and family friendly. Next door is Trevone one way (with the natural tidal pool from Mallory Towers) and Mother Ivey’s the other, with Booby’s, Constantine, Treyarnon and Porthcothan all round the other side of the headland. Constantine Bay and Harlyn are both excellent for surfing (you’ll find surf schools on both shores, so pick on wind direction).
If you’ve longer, make time for Rock (hop on the ferry or water taxi) and Polzeath, or, hire a bike to explore the 18 mile The Camel Estuary that takes you along a disused railway line, if you start at Padstow you can head to Wadebridge (via a cheeky stop off at Camel Valley Vineyards) and then onto Bodmin and Wenfordbridge if you want to complete the full trail. You’re also roughly a 45 minute drive to the Eden Project, or The Lost Gardens of Heligan, or head down to the coast to Newquay.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Fans of posh country luxury without stuffiness will be in absolute heaven here, and it’s a real treat for locals too, who regularly head over for lunch, dinner, treatments, and even an occasional night away too, as it’s nice not to drive home sometimes.
Not for: Luxury doesn’t come cheap and The Pig’s prices, though competitive with other high-end stays in the area, are a bit chewy. Dog lovers might want to swerve this one – four-legged friends cannot stay over or enter the main building, though you can stroll the grounds with them or if you’re eating outside at the Lobster Shed, and it’s not for those who want a city-break as Harlyn really is quite remote.
The damage: Doubles start at £195 per night, but true median prices are around £250-£300 and you can expect to pay a premium to make like a shepherd – they cost up to £400 per night.