Great Places to Stay
- The Four Seasons Hotel, St. Fillans, Perthshire

Travel writer Vivien Devlin has journeyed into the heart of Strathearn to the delightful loch-side village of St Fillan's to try out the Four Seasons Hotel. Impressed by the stunning views, good food, relaxing atmosphere and the warm welcome (even from the friendly shaggy haired Munsterlander who greeted her at reception!) Vivien can now thoroughly recommend the Four Seasons for all ages and type of leisure break.

Loch Earn from St Fillans One thing is for sure; this is a very special, utterly relaxing, hidden gem of a hotel - perhaps more country inn in style with the most spectacular view down Loch Earn from your bedroom window. This white-washed lochside hotel has comfortable accommodation, spacious lounges, restaurant and bar, serving really good food. With very reasonable room rates, this is a perfect place to spend a few days while touring the area or enjoying walking, waterspouts or golf. The young staff are all most welcoming under the watchful eye of owner Andrew Low and manager Mary McDiarmid as well as the resident dog Sham, a friendly shaggy haired Munsterlander, who may certainly greet you at the reception desk, paws on the counter!

The Hotel
The charm of the Four Seasons is its homely ambience, individual character and small size. There are just twelve spacious bedrooms in the main house on the first floor, many with a fabulous loch view. The interior decoration is fresh and modern Four Seasons Bedroom such as rich ochre wallpaper contrasting with bedspreads and curtains in burgundy and blues with polished country pine furniture. A couple of larger rooms face the back or side of the house with views up the hill but what they miss in loch view are made up with other interesting features. Many repeat guests choose the Round Room, a rather romantic, round white coloured room with large brass bed and luxury bathroom. It is alleged that the sixties pop band, The Beatles stayed at the Four Seasons in 1964, two of the group sleeping in the Round Room and two others in one of the Chalets in the hotel grounds. (More detail on these below). Another room has its own private balcony. Around the hallways and corridors you'll find an eclectic selection of contemporary abstract paintings, photographs, as well as ornate carved chests and chairs imported especially from Thailand and the Far East. This is the personal collection of owner Andrew Low, who spends the winter abroad, finding more unusual artefacts to bring back to his Scottish hotel.

Hilltop Chalets
Hilltop Chalets Alternative accommodation is offered in the six chalets - log cabins - perched up a steep hill behind the hotel. These sleep two adults in the double room with a second bedroom, which has bunk beds, suitable for children and bathroom. These chalets are simply wonderful and great fun - up-market camping. You can drive your car up the hill and park right outside your cabin. Beside Cabin number 2, there's also a small garden with deckchairs supplied for a spot of sunbathing! The chalets are simply furnished in polished pine and a couple of wicker armchairs in the main bedroom with its huge picture window looking right up the loch. The view is so fabulous you may not require the colour TV, CD and radio supplied. Completely private in your own little holiday home, it's such a different experience than staying in the hotel, although it is only two minutes walk down the hill for breakfast and dinner.

Vivaldi's Flat
If you are seeking privacy as well as luxury accommodation then book your own private self-catering apartment. Vivaldi's Flat is in the main hotel with its sitting room, two bedrooms, bathroom, and kitchen. With TV, radio/CD player, central heating it's a self contained suite where you can cater for yourself with of course the option of having meals at the hotel.

Dining at the Four Seasons The Four Seasons is renowned for its fine food with the choice of a superb four-course Table d'hôte dinner in the Meall Reamhar Restaurant or a meal in the more casual setting of the Tarken bar. But wherever you decide to eat, the freshly prepared food, using the finest local produce, is created in the same kitchen by the new Head Chef David Errington and his team. Let's sample a taste of the restaurant menu, which should certainly tempt you to come and stay! It's a short but carefully selected Chef's gourmet menu featuring four starters and four mains with an intermediate soup course. Drinks and canapés are served in the lounge area outside the restaurant by a well-dressed team of young women in mandarin collar white shirts and long black skirts. What to choose? Begin perhaps with Foie Gras and Celeriac Terrine with puy lentil dressing. Pittenweem crab with confit tomato and artichoke salad, or soft and tender Seared Scrabster Scallops. Then a tiny espresso cup of White Onion Soup drizzled with truffle oil. Utterly fabulous. If you are not already impressed, Chef Errington then really makes his mark with the main courses, served with unusual yet excellent accompaniments. Monkfish is poached in black olive oil and served with a Dining at the Four Seasons tasty gazpacho and aubergine crisps; Saddle of Venison is complemented with the clean flavours of fennel and turnip, with a liquorice sauce. Other choices may include Cornfed Chicken with fave bean ragout or Panfried Turbot with creamed leeks. For non-meat eaters, there is nothing on the menu to suit. However there is a separate Vegetarian menu, which is hidden from view and not readily offered so do ask for this, with a good choice of dishes such as a starter of Asparagus with soft boiled egg - this arrived hard boiled so that the yellow yolk could not dribble over the green stalks - and for a main course, a rather interesting Jerusalem Artichoke with garden pea Risotto. If you enjoy dessert then you'll be in your element here: Date and Pecan Nut Pudding with cardamom ice-cream or a deliciously light Armagnac and Pear Pannacotta. Alternatively a platter of fine cheese served with quince jelly and grapes.

The Tarken Bar menu offers such homely and traditional Scottish dishes such as home made soup, deep fried Squid, Crab fishcakes, Haggis, neeps and tatties, Lamb Hot Pot and Angus Beef rib-eye steak served with egg, mushrooms, tomatoes and fries.

The lochside fresh air and perhaps some exercise from boating or hill walking will surely give you an appetite for breakfast. At the Four Seasons, they take this meal for Kings very seriously and traditionally. Rarely have I seen kedgeree on a menu but here you can savour this delectable Indian/Scottish dish, with the ingenious addition of a soft poached egg. Otherwise all the usual suspects of croissants, pastries, eggs, bacon, smoked haddock and kippers.

Strathearn and Comrie
Wander around the hotel and you'll find all kinds of nooks and crannies to sit and read or relax with a cup of tea. There's the exotic intimate little Sitting room, dominated by the Opium Bed imported from Thailand. This is a popular place for bride and groom to sit for a photograph - weddings are popular here. Upstairs you'll find the tiny little Library with shelves of books to suit all tastes and guests are welcome to borrow these during your stay. Also a selection of CDs. Unfortunately I did not know about the library until the morning we left so now you know in advance. The Four Seasons is definitely a 'lounging-about' kind of place. On the afternoon we arrived a woman was sitting alone on the window seat in the bar absorbed in her book for hours. On the Sunday morning after breakfast a couple sat browsing through the Sunday papers, relaxing on the sofas in the restaurant lounge. So come here with a pile of all the books you have been meaning to read for years!

The outdoor life will beckon however whether you wish to go for a sail, water-skiing, or canoeing on the loch. The hotel has its own jetty and slipway. Take a woodland walk, or try some serious hill climbing. There are over 70 Munros within an hour's drive. Nearby you can play golf, go fishing and shooting or go for a drive to visit the nearby towns of Comrie, Crieff, Pitlochry, Perth and historic visitor attractions.

I would thoroughly recommend the Four Seasons for all ages and type of leisure break you are planning. The Chalets in particular are perfect for a couple wanting a private romantic weekend or alternatively, bring the kids and your dog too! Reasonable rates for dinner, bed and breakfast especially if you stay three nights, with superb food from tasty pub grub to a fine dining experience. Loch Earn is a beautiful spot for a relaxing, touring or sporty holiday.

More Information
For more information or to make a reservation at the The Four Seasons Hotel St. Fillans, Perthshire, see the Four Seasons own Web site.

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