Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans – Review
Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans
by Michael Pounder
Situated literally a stone’s throw from Loch Earn on the eastern edge of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, the Four Seasons Hotel in the small village of St Fillans combines fine dining with the jaw-dropping scenery of the Highlands to create the perfect rustic retreat to get away from it all.
Add to that its understated but amazing USP (more about that later!) and it really is a must-visit in this quiet corner of Scotland.
My partner, Fran, and I visited this hidden gem at the end of November, so it was reasonably quiet, which added to the feeling of peace and serenity as well as the sense that we were a long way from home and the pressures of everyday life. For those of a more adventurous nature, water skiing, mountain climbing, fishing, golf and cycling are all available in the village and surrounding area.
“Spacious, clean and comfortable”
We ended up setting off from Yorkshire a little later than we’d planned, and it was beginning to get dark as we neared the end of our four-hour journey and took a short cut across the moors from Braco – a bleak but broodingly beautiful landscape that brought to mind the scene from Skyfall in which James Bond drives M to his childhood home through miles of unforgiving Scottish wilderness.
On arrival at the Four Seasons, owner Susan simply could not have been more welcoming as she showed us to our room and gave us a mini-tour of the hotel – which included a quaint little library that wouldn’t have looked out of place at Hogwarts. The hotel is very dog-friendly, but there is also a designated ‘dug’-free wing, which is where we were staying. Our room was spacious, clean and very comfortable – so much so that we both promptly fell asleep on the huge, enveloping bed.
Following a refreshing snooze, we soon discovered that food and drink is the area in which the Four Seasons really excels. We were led to a cosy sofa next to a roaring fire in the two AA rosette Meall Reamhar restaurant to peruse the mouth-watering menu and enjoy some pre-dinner drinks – I can heartily recommend the Ossian golden ale brewed just down the road in Perth.
Three courses from the chef’s selection menu will set you back £35, which is very reasonable for food of this quality. After starters of smoked applewood arancini with red onion jam, braised gem lettuce, cherry vine tomatoes and baby coriander, followed by a lemon sorbet palate cleanser, I plumped for pan-fried chicken breast, crushed new potatoes and braised red cabbage with fennel and plum sauce, while Fran chose rib-eye steak with hand-cut chips, vine plum tomatoes, mushrooms and a red wine jus. We just had enough room to sample chocolate brownie with raspberry ice cream and fresh red berries before retiring to nurse our full bellies, almost delirious from the delights we had just imbibed.
Following an incredibly peaceful night’s sleep, breakfast the following morning was a similarly sumptuous affair accompanied by the friendly, attentive service to which we had become accustomed – this time with the added bonus of stunning views over the length of Loch Earn and snow-capped Ben Vorlich through the large dining-room windows. Post-breakfast we took the opportunity to explore the area on foot and discovered additional accommodation up the steep ascent behind the hotel in the form of six beautifully presented chalets.
Now this brings me back to the unique selling point to which I alluded earlier, which is that The Beatles stayed in two of these chalets at the height of their fame in 1964. In between shows in Edinburgh and Dundee, the Fab Four spent two nights at the Four Seasons – John and Paul in chalet no 1, and George and Ringo up at the top of the hill in chalet no 6.
“Attention to detail”
Susan very kindly offered us the chance to look around ‘John and Paul’s chalet’, which is tastefully decorated with a nod to its famous guests from 54 years ago, along with discreet blue plaques next to the front doors, and a framed local newspaper report of their visit on the wall in the hotel’s Tarken Bar and Bistro.
Being big Beatles fans ourselves, we would have loved to have stayed another night in one of the chalets, but we had to make our way west along the shores of the loch to our next destination. As an aside, it’s advisable to refuel the car whenever the opportunity arises, as petrol stations can be few and far between!
Susan has only owned the hotel for a year, and it’s clear that refurbishment is ongoing, but it’s a testament to her dedication and attention to detail that she has created a relaxing and welcoming haven in idyllic scenery – with food to die for and service second to none. We will definitely be back.
The Four Seasons Hotel, St. Fillans, Perthshire, PH6 2NF
Seasonal Prices (vary) per night including VAT and Full Scottish Breakfast:
Chalets from £100 to £140 for double occupancy
Superior Loch View Rooms from £105 to £175 for double/twin occupancy
Classic Hillside Twin Room from £99 to £135 for twin occupancy
01764 685 333