Newspaper and website reviews of the Four Seasons Hotel
Girls take magical mystery tour of Beatles hideaway" Girly Break, News of the World, 2011
"if you want your best friend to feel as welcome as you, you need to pick the right hotel" A woof over your head, Scottish Field, July 2011
"the hotel prides itself on its food - and rightly so" Newcastle Evening Chronicle, July 2011
"Beautiful St Fillans and the Four Seasons Hotel are nothing short of fab" John Mc Gurk, Sunday Life
"if you are in search of a picture postcard perfect hideaway to recharge your batteries" Travel Guide, Belfast Telegraph 2010
"Relax beside the crackling log fires, enjoy the misty views of Loch Earn and surrounding snowy peaks" Go North for Hogmanay, Sunday Express 2010
“Seasons jolly good”
Your Life, Press and Journal
“.…your dog butler awaits at this country hotel at the head of Loch Earn”
“....and managed to get this sunset shot outside our hotel”
Picture of the Day, June 2010, The Herald
“Relaxing at the Fab Four Seasons”
“make no bones about it, our pooch will be choosing this year’s holiday, and the Four Seasons should be up to the job”
“this unpretentious gem of a property is infused with the personality of its owner.…”
Walk on the Wild Side, Live City and Islington
“Seasons to be cheerful, you don’t have to go far for luxury and great food"
Saturday Travel, Daily Record
“....the welcome is first rate – owner Andrew Low’s touches include bubbly on the breakfast menu“
Between the Sheets, March 2010, Sunday Mirror
“Love, love it do – The Four Seasons hosted the Beatles at the height of their fame”
Top Hotels for Kings and Country, News of the World
"The scenery alone makes a trip to this quite unique hostelry worthwhile. The team of chefs strive to make your visit a culinary experience in itself"
Colin Greenhill, Edinburgh Evening News
"The view down Loch Earn on a summer's evening can hardly be beaten. But divert your eyes for a moment to your plate and you'll find some enterprising cooking. The only problem is deciding what to have"
Neil MacLean, Sunday Times
"Loch to the future", sited in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, St Fillans' Four Seasons hotel is well placed to make the most of its potential"
Bill Jamieson, Scotsman Magazine
"....a weekend break at this fantastic location brings relaxed enlightenment"
Fiona Armstrong, Scottish Homes and Interiors
"....offers elegant surroundings, fine dining and lots of character; quirks for all seasons"
Vince Gledhill, Evening Chronicle
"....it is one of those places you can fall in love with as soon as you are shown to your room and open the curtains to reveal the stunning scenery"
Craig Mc Queen, Glaswegian
".....we still had the evening to look forward to and the pride of the Four Seasons - its sumptuous dinner, hand dived Scrabster scallops, beef fillet with Foie Gras, haggis and glayva jus, and possibly the best crème brulee on the planet"
Sally McDonald, Evening News
LAID-BACK, ART-FILLED AND LOVABLE
Intro After a restful sleep we drew back the bedroom curtains. At 7.30am the early and sharp light had thrown a panorama of big sky, shapely green hills and jewel-blue loch into perfect focus. This is why we go on holiday!
The big windows of most loch-facing bedrooms are simply filled frame-to-frame with this wonderful view westwards across Loch Earn. The hotel sits at the edge of the pretty Perthshire village of St Fillans where substantial, elegant stone villas share equally beautiful outlooks with small and picture-postcard cottages. Rich or poor the vista is there for all.
Come here and all the natural beauty and interesting attractions of the Perthshire Highlands will surround. Perfect for staying put, and perfect for touring. Of course the Perthshire charms will surround you whichever hotel you end up in, if you end up here: so what makes the Four Seasons so special?
Dining The main restaurant is the Meall Reamhar, looking out over the loch. Interesting canvases on the walls and the exciting and clearly laid-out menus; it has a lightly sophisticated atmosphere we like very much. And apart from getting our vote, the AA has awarded 2 rosettes.
The hotel offers residents and non-residents the choice of a 4-course table d'hôte dinner here, or a tasty lighter meal (variations on Scottish favourites) in the more casual setting of the Tarken Bar, which also serves lunch. But wherever you decide to eat, the freshly prepared food, employing much local or quality Scottish produce, is created in the same kitchen by head chef Gordon Wood and his team.
In 2006 we dined here on the night after dinner in a celebrated establishment. And we found it more enjoyable, frankly: very good food, especially good flavours, charming staff, and an unpretentious mood. All these ingredients add up.
Let's sample a taste of dinner in the restaurant: first, drinks and canapés are served in the Lounge next to the restaurant by a well-dressed team of young women in mandarin collar white shirts and long black skirts. The chef's gourmet menu featured 4 starters and 4 mains, with an intermediate soup course. Dishes included Foie Gras and Celeriac Terrine with Puy Lentil Dressing; Pittenweem Crab with Confit Tomato and Artichoke Salad; White Onion Soup drizzled with truffle oil; Monkfish poached in Black Olive Oil and served with tasty Gazpacho and Aubergine Crisps. There is a separate vegetarian menu (you might have to ask for it) with a good choice of dishes. If you enjoy desserts then you'll be in your element here.
Travel & Outdoors, Scotsman Magazine, December 22, 2007
Escape to St Fillans - the Trossachs boasts natural beauty, but that's not the only temptation for townies. By FIONA DUFF
A WHILE AGO some some friends and I realised that every so often we need to get away. No men, no kids, no dogs and no worries; just the opportunity to laugh, eat, drink, shop and explore. And as well as being a chance to catch up without distractions, a weekend away also lets us discover parts of the country that we perhaps weren't familiar with before.
This year we wanted somewhere that wasn't too far from Edinburgh, but enough of a distance to feel as though we had escaped. I suggested the Trossachs - a part of the world I once knew quite well and could do with reacquainting myself with. In particular I was curious to see The Four Seasons Hotel in St Fillans, whose main claim to fame is that it played host to The Beatles in 1964 during a Scottish tour. I had been told that the hotel had been thoroughly redesigned by Graven Images, the leisure industry's interior design company of the moment. Well, there's nothing us townies like less than missing out on a bit of style.
Stopping off in Callander for lunch we were flabbergasted by the number of people around. This was not high tourist season, but the town was buzzing. It appeared there was a jazz festival in full swing. Indeed every café and bar either had live music emanating from it or was planning something that evening. Retail therapy was catered for with a main street crammed with shops. OK, they were not the chi-chi fashion shops we are used to, but when it comes to tablet or tartan nick nacks you can't beat this place.
We travelled further north, through Lochearnhead, where we noted the watersports centre, which, despite it being the beginning of autumn, seemed fairly busy. On the loch hardy souls were waterskiing and fishermen were out in force catching trout.
On arrival, the Four Seasons looked welcoming but fairly nondescript, although it has a lochside location. A rangy building, painted white with azure shutters, it certainly hasn't the grandiose features of a country house hotel. However, inside, past the row of wellies and walking boots by the door, there is a surprise in store. The interior is not at all what one would imagine from a wee village hotel; it was a bit like walking into the pages of Elle Decoration.
Having bought the hotel in 1999 after stints at various well-known hotels around Britain the owner, Andrew Low, wanted a place that was more relaxed. Children and dogs are welcome (there are also six chalets behind the hotel), and there are no grand flourishes or ceremony on arrival, merely smiles from the jolly staff.
When Low first took ownership the hotel was "very decrepit". The look he went for then was "faded, clubby and comfortable", but almost a decade on Low realised that he needed to give the place another makeover. About an hour from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, St Fillans is a natural choice for city dwellers looking for a break. They want the real fires, and the views, and they expect flair and good food.
Interspersed with the signature look of cool furniture and plush curtains and cushions is an eastern influence - tables and dressers brought back from Low's frequent travels to Asia. At the entrance to the more formal of the two dining rooms is a stunning chest from the royal palace in Sumatra. It was originally hidden behind a door, but the designers immediately suggested that it be given pride of place. Throughout the hotel the paintings adorning the walls are a mix of Scottish and Vietnamese art. Low told me some of these were by the "Famous Four", and to those who know about eastern art this would surely mean something. All I knew was that he wasn't referring to John, Paul, George or Ringo.
The bedrooms are still to have some interiors magic worked upon them, but as my room had a huge window looking on to Loch Earn, everything was forgiven. I've looked out on incredible scenes in hotels around the world, but the view right down the loch skirted with autumnal trees was quite wonderful. When the hotel closes in January and February the bedrooms will be redesigned for a spring opening. We raised our eyebrows at Low's faith in this, but he is determined. "We have a wedding on 1 March so it will have to be done by then," he said firmly.
Before the five of us settled down to some serious eating, drinking and gossiping, it seemed only right to go and look around some of the countryside while the sun was shining. There are lots of local walks with information for guests on length, feasibility and even alerts about local goats.
We plumped for the Riverside walk. Along the edge of the loch (and the berthing spot for a yellow seaplane), over a bridge and along the river was a nice, easy flat saunter for those of us who had forgotten to pack walking boots. Or indeed didn't actually own any in the first place. For the more serious yomper there are other walks up the local Munro, Ben Vorlich, or a trip to Glen Tarken with views to Torleum.
The following morning, having had a delicious supper and a huge breakfast (with the most perfect poached eggs ever seen), we planned the rest of our day. Lunch, we decided, should be at Monachyle Mhor Hotel a short distance away in Balquidder. We'd seen the chef, Tom Lewis, on a television programme cooking for the Queen's 80th birthday banquet. If it was good enough for her it might well be worth the detour.
I'd never ventured further than Balquidder village before, but with Monachyle Mhor a further four miles we wended our way along the single-track road avoiding careering 4x4s which seemed in a desperate rush to be somewhere. On the left Loch Voil was as still and clear as a mirror. The reflection of the trees on the water was breathtaking. We had to pull over, get out of the car and breathe in the beauty of the prettiest of all lochs.
FACTFILE: THE TROSSACHS
HOW TO GET THERE
- By road, on the Perth
bypass take the A85 signposted to Crieff. At Crieff turn right along the A85 sign posted to Crianlarich, going through Comrie, and onto the village of St Fillans.
- The nearest train station to St Fillans is Perth, tickets from £12.30 from Edinburgh and £14.20 from Glasgow. Visit www.thetrainline.com
WHERE TO STAY
- Dinner, bed and breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans starts at £77 (tel: 01764 685333, visit www.thefourseasonshotel.co.uk). The hotel will cook any trout caught in Loch Earn by guests
The Scottish Hotel Guide
Judges' notes: A world away from the harsh richesse of the international Four Seasons hotel brand, this Scottish lochside alternative endears with distinctive, original characteristics. A previous winner of our Good for the Soul award the highly individual hotel has a dozen bedrooms plus chalets and a private apartment giving a good range of prices / flexibility.
Public rooms feature thoughtfully-chosen objects and pictures from both Scotland and the Orient, which owner Andrew Low knows well. Art and attractive, contemporary design (from, for example, the '60s to right now) mix with striking furnishings such as an opium bed in one lounge. But it can easily do casual and the Wee Bar sees to that.
The Meall Reamhar fine dining restaurant has a wall of windows looking lochwards. Less formal is the Tarken Room. Food is good to excellent, be it the casual or posh option. Breakfast is sound and offers kedgeree: excellent! Bedrooms are fresh, comfortable; the most desirable ones overlook Loch Earn, of course; one round room has a four poster.
Recently, renowned designers Graven Images zhooshed up some bedrooms and other spaces like the open-plan lounge with log fire where it's grand to relax by day or order dinner in the evening. A clever country hotel with many faces: sophisticated at one turn, entirely laid-back or quiet at another.
A one-off, and a touch of enlightenment about it, too.