Tried and Tested: Piglets Boutique B&B, Essex
Nestled in the unspoilt rural Essex village of Wimbish, Piglets Boutique B&B has the blissful feel of a hidden sanctuary... an impression you get just from browsing the friendly and heartfelt website.
Essex natives ourselves, we didn't want to travel too far for a getaway this year (for obvious reasons). So Piglets, with its obviously welcoming hosts, delicious-sounding food, and luxurious-looking rooms, seemed ideal.
Of course, there's always the fear that a long-anticipated break - we booked our stay back in dark, dreary February, when we were still in full lockdown - isn't going to live up to expectations. Happily, our stay at Piglets more than exceeded them!
We were greeted at the gate by Max, who owns Piglets with his wife Chrissie. He treated us to a tour of the B&B, which took in the natural swimming pond (more about that later!), games room, gym, adorable rescue pups Harry and Hamish, and the gorgeous Mediterranean patio...
...on which we later enjoyed a complimentary slice of Chrissie's home-baked cake, and a delicious vegetarian platter as the September sun began to set.
We chose Ashdon as our room (all of the rooms are named after a local village), specifically because it has a balcony that overlooks the swimming pond. Watching the sun rising over the pond, cradling a morning coffee and listening to the birds singing away in the trees, has to count amongst my favourite holiday moments.
Not that we didn't enjoy being in the room itself. Max and Chrissie have thought of every comfort their guests might need, from high quality bedding, and a bathroom that actually has enough space to put everything you've brought with you.
Oh - and in true ‘James Bond gadget'-style, we also had a TV that rose smoothly from the end of the bed with the click of a button!
As if all this wasn't quite enough, the treats and facilities seemed endless. The guest lounge came equipped with cosy sofas and a beautiful rotating games board (Max's family also runs a luxury games business), and there's an honesty bar packed with wines and spirits, a gin library, ice-cream, snacks, and pre-mixed cocktails galore.
The food was outstanding, too. Max and Chrissie offer freshly-baked cake in the lounge every afternoon (available at an extra charge), and there's a mouth-watering evening menu for those who don't feel like going out - there are no restaurants in easy walking distance - packed with fresh pizzas and sharing boards crammed with local produce.
We also woke up to a superbly-cooked breakfast every day, not to mention a basket of French pastries washed down with a complimentary Bloody Mary shot. Talk about indulgence!
With all that food on offer, you could say we needed our early-morning swim in the freshwater pond every morning, though since it isn't heated, we had to be brave! But we soon discovered that there's nothing quite like immersing yourself in fresh water that sparkles as the sun comes up, surrounded by gorgeous plants and birdsong.
As much as it would have been tempting to stay put all getaway long, there's plenty to see and do nearby. As well as visiting the local villages, including historic Thaxted, and Saffron Walden for shopping and sightseeing, we also went on an amazing guided alpaca walk at Madash Alpacas, in nearby Earls Colne.
You could even head for the bright lights of Cambridge if you felt like it, just 20 miles away. However, we didn't feel the need to stray too far from our brand-new home-from-home, and once you've experienced the warm and welcoming embrace of Piglets Boutique B&B, you may not, either.
Author: Nina Jervis