Published: 09:36, 29 April 2019
| Updated: 13:15, 29 April 2019
The eagerly-awaited opening of Kent's most exciting new hotel takes place tomorrow after the £8 million refurbishment of an historic manor house.
It follows the transformation of the former Bridge Country Club near Canterbury which is now known as The Pig at Bridge Place.
It is one of a growing number of boutique hotels being created by the brand in the south which specialises in converting historic buildings into fabulously-styled hotels, renown for their trademark cosy furnishings and fittings, decor and "homegrown" food.
But the project in Bridge has proved the most personal for hotelier Robin Hutson and his interior designer wife Judy whose parents lived in the village and they were married at the church just a few hundreds yard from their new hotel.
"It really has been a labour of love for us and we have put our heart and soul into it," said Robin.
"It just a great feeling to see it all finished and the building given a new lease of life."
Mr Hutson said he was also excited by the focus on food in Kent adding: "We have not found a location with such an abundance of small suppliers who we are looking forward to working with, including the county's wine growers."
The new hotel has 29 bedrooms - seven in the main house, 12 in the coach house, two family lodges and a rustic romantic two-storey hideaway in the old stables.
There are also seven Kentish hop pickers’ huts on stilts which sit alongside the river in the grounds and feature double-bedrooms with fitted bathrooms and wood burning stove.
Sitting in several acres of countryside, Bridge Country Club was owned for more than 50 years by Peter Malkin and in its hey-dey in the 70s attracted big named bands, including Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Yardbirds and the Moody Blues as well as numerous and celebrities.
And some of that 'rock and roll vibe' is reflected in the conversion of the 17th century grade one listed property.
The manor house was bought 18 months ago by Mr Hutson's Limewood Group whose team set about the transformation with the signature decor by wife Judy.
But careful attention has been paid to retaining and incorporating the building's many historic features including its magnificent staircase, fireplaces and wood panelling.
Such is the interest in the new hotel that there were 750 applications for the 80 jobs and 1,500 staysbooked in advance, says hotel director Guy Freedman.
Billed as a special dining experience with luxury rooms, Pig Hotels are renowned for their food, with produce harvested from their own vegetable, fruit and herb cottage gardens and even their own sheep and pigs as well as local suppliers.
A signature feature of Pig Hotels is their conservatory restaurants with an open plan kitchen which has also been created at Bridge.
The Pig at Bridge is the company's sixth hotel with others in Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire.
But two further projects are being worked on in Cornwall and Sussex.
To mark the opening the hotel held a special launch night on Saturday which was attended by hundreds of specially-invited guest, including celebrity chefs Rick Stein and Angela Hartnett.
More by this authorGerry Warren