How to get your next cruise from Southampton off to a luxurious start

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The_lounge.jpgMany of the 1.5 million passengers who start or finish their cruise in Southampton each year (according to the latest figures) choose to spend a night in the city before boarding their ship.
It makes for a relaxing beginning to the holiday, especially if the journey started with a flight into the UK or a journey by road, rail or air from elsewhere in Britain.
Unfortunately, most of the hotels in the city are less than inspiring, and tend very much towards steerage rather than first class. There are a number of chain hotels, and the four-star option nearest the dock gates does not exactly reach the pinnacle of the pyramid of excellence.
The nearby New Forest is home to some of the best hotels in the country, but they come at a price, and are hardly suitable for those who have left their cars at home.
Now there’s a new kid on the block. Step forward, The Pig in the Wall. An interesting name for a fascinating place. The “in the Wall” part is fairly self-explanatory, given that the Grade 2 Listed building is an integral part of Southampton’s historic fortifications.
Research has discovered it was built as a private residence in the early 19th Century. It became a public house called The Royal Standard and was known more recently as Latimers on the Quay.
The Pig part of the name takes a little more explaining. It’s an off-shoot of the larger Pig Hotel in the New Forest, brainchild of Robin Hutson who was co-founder of the Hotel du Vin chain and who named his latest baby after the most popular item on the menu.
It is becoming a small chain itself, with new links opening soon in Bath and at Studland Bay, Dorset.
But back to Southampton. Push open the front door on arrival and you might think you have stumbled into a farmyard kitchen. An eclectic assortment of furniture, assembled by Hutson’s wife, Judy, lends an air of decidedly shabby chic, and pots of growing herbs fill every spare inch of shelf and table top.
A Brobdinagian dresser is stacked with crockery and cutlery and all the requirements for tomorrow morning’s breakfast. A log fire is most likely crackling in the grate; and speaking of crackling, the delicacy features prominently on the list of “Piggy Bites” snacks from the bar.
Beyond lies a maze of corridors and staircases fit for a snakes and ladders board, leading to the 12 guest bedrooms. Mine, on the first floor, was spacious and with plenty of ceiling height. Others, under the eaves, are described as “cosy”
Alongside the bed, and under a window looking out at the walls, was a large roll-top bath. The en suite facilities also include a rain forest shower. A dresser contained a coffee machine and there was a bottle of fresh milk nestled among the drinks in the mini-bar.
If, like me, you take advantage of the complementary Land-Rover service to travel to dinner at The Pig, make sure you leave time for a walk in the grounds and a stroll through the kitchen garden.
All manner of vegetables are growing in abundance behind the Victorian brick walls, and you’ll probably catch a glimpse of some happy porcine creatures nearby, as well as the quails that supply the restaurant with eggs.
The airy conservatory was surprisingly busy for dinner on a Tuesday evening; tables were still being turned after 9.00 pm. I enjoyed a salad of pickled beets and goats’ cheese (£7) before sinking my teeth into roast rump of Hampshire lamb, which came with garden peas, broad bean leaves and Rosemary sauce (£19).
There was time for a glass or two of single malt whisky by the log fire as I waited for our Land-Rover chauffeur to transport me back to my soft bed.
If I had been setting out on a cruise the next day, there could have been no better beginning to the holiday.
RATES: There are three grades of accommodation at the Pig in the Wall. An Attic Snug costs £125 a night Sunday to Thursday and £135 Friday/Saturday. Comfy costs £145 and £160, while the Spacious comes in at £175 and £185. Breakfast is an additional £10 per person. Secure parking is £10 per night but cannot be offered for the duration of a cruise. For bookings, contact reservations@thepiginthewall.com
DISCLOSURE: I stayed as a guest of the Pig in the Wall, and ate dinner at The Pig Hotel, on June 11, 2013.
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By | 2017-06-15T15:59:31+00:00 4 July 2013|Cruise destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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