The Angel & Blue Pig recently reopened its doors following a £400,000 refurbishment. Known previously as simply The Angel, this smart pub-with-rooms is the first of its kind for the Revere Pub Company. It bought the premises from Eldridge Pope a few years ago before adding the “Blue Pig” bit after the recent revamp “to symbolise the changes we have made”.
In its previous form, explained one of the hotel's friendly managers, the 13th-century coaching house had a number of annexes, one called the Blue Pig, a bar area adjacent to the courtyard: “This part of the building had already been sold off when Revere acquired it, so the idea of the new name was to reincorporate some of the building's history.”
From the outside you get a sense that things have progressed quite a bit since this establishment first welcomed weary travellers off the road or the boat.
Today, exposed beams and a mounted hog's head are juxtaposed with floral furnishings, lots of polished wood and newly-upholstered chairs.
Beyond the bar and restaurant – with its open fireplaces and meticulous spotlighting – is a winding staircase leading up to the sleeping quarters. Set over two floors, there are 12 bedrooms, each named after a different angel.
Ours (Ramiel) was large, with three sets of French windows running along the bedroom and ensuite bathroom, opening on to a narrow balcony overlooking the front of the building – perfect for people-watching on market Saturday, not so great for lighter sleepers intending to hit the sack before closing time.
The hotel stands half-way up Lymington's thriving high street, lined with independent shops selling men's blazers and pricey nick-nacks.
Once a smuggling port heaving with rogues, Lymington is now the epitome of English gentility, a prosperous coastal town between Bournemouth and Southampton with the sea on one side and the New Forest on the other.
Life revolves around the high street and a couple of cobbled lanes leading down to the quayside, which caters for tourists with ice-cream shops and fresh seafood.
On Saturdays, the Masonic Hall puts on an impressive antiques market (grandmasatticfairs. co.uk; admission 50p) while the main strip in town is transformed by stalls offering chutneys and hand-made children's clothes as well as the usual bric-a-brac.
We took a 30-minute Puffin boat tour (puffincruiseslymington.com; £6.90) past one of the only remaining Victorian sea-salt swimming baths in the country (01590 678 882; lymington seawaterbaths.org.uk), and a £10m yacht – the most expensive harboured at Lymington, where mooring will set you back up to £15,000 a year – towards the salt marshes, protected as Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve (hants.gov.uk).
For those who fancy venturing further, the ferry to the Isle of Wight from the harbour – five minutes' walk from the hotel – takes less than half an hour (0871 376 1000; wightlink.co.uk) and there are plenty of walks in the nearby New Forest National Park (thenewforest.co.uk).
After a diligent makeover, the rooms have been kitted out with toiletries by the White Company and fluffy bathrobes. The interiors are not-so-shabby chic, with Farrow and Ball greens and muted greys and a sprinkling of extravagant animal-print wallpaper. There are industrial-style bed-side lights and a generous smattering of angel and blue pig-motifed paintings and artefacts.
The basics haven't been overlooked. The king-sized bed is super comfortable with luxurious white linen and a fawn-coloured woollen throw. The en-suite bathroom has a tub with over-head power shower, heated towel rails and stable-style door. There is a large plasma-screen television, free Wi-Fi and a red Roberts revival digital radio that makes staying static all too easy.
The restaurant situated conveniently below has plenty of locally sourced produce on the menu. Staff are particularly proud of the josper charcoal oven (the current choice plaything for flashy chefs), which cooks up to 350C giving a distinct smokey flavour. Here, it is used for most dishes including the signature steak (the fillet at £23, served with a choice of two sides, was delicious) and the tasty vegetable tagine (£10.95).
For little ones, there is a children's menu at £5 a main. We left ours at home, all the better to enjoy the impressive U-shaped bar serving cocktails and the signature beer, the Blue Angel brewed nearby by Ringwood. Bottoms up.
The Angel & Blue Pig, High Street, Lymington, Hampshire SO41 9AP (01590 672 050; angel-lymington.com).
Doubles start at £90, including breakfast.