The fab Four Seasons In one day
Located in the pretty village of St Fillans at the Eastern end of the 6.5 miles long Loch Earn, the Four Seasons Hotel has a stunning location beside the water commanding views to the far end of the loch with a backdrop of forested hills. It's so far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city that The Beatles stayed here in 1964 between concerts in Dundee and Edinburgh. We stayed for one night on the first leg of a magical mystery tour through Scotland and lucked out with glorious sunny weather, which allowed us some time to use the beer garden at the front of the hotel looking out onto the water and beyond.
Thankfully, despite travelling in COVID times, check-in was quick and painless.
This is an old school hotel with the interior retaining many 70s and 80s features. Our room was up stairs, just above the entrance.
The main feature is the large loch-facing window from which to enjoy the view. A couple of seats were there to watch the sunset (which we did) and there was also a radiator to keep toasty so Mrs Foodie was happy.
Also included was a personalised letter and a guide to hotel services which mentioned a library with DVDs and books. Unfortunately, this is currently closed as a result of Coronavirus measures.
A good selection of Brodies tea is provided but took a while to find as it’s in the bottom drawer! The selection, all by Brodies included: breakfast, lemon & ginger, berry crush, green tea, peppermint, afternoon and camomile.
Bathrobes and toiletries were provided, but no slippers which would have been handy as the bathroom was a tad chilly.
A large bath with instant hot water. Continuing the retro feel, the ceramics were originalShanks of Barrhead, not something you see every day. The roller blind style shower curtain was novel, however, we hope these are replaced soon as they looked like they are near the end of their lifespan.
As you can see there is a little duck to share a bath with you. Speaking of which...
You can cross the road to the hotel's pebble beach and watch real ducks on the water.
After a quick freshen up a visit to the beer garden was needed. The sun was shining and the location meant that sitting here was a must. So we did!
When checking in you will no doubt notice the AA Rosette crockery hanging on the wall. The Rosette was awarded for the Chef's Selection Menu within the Seasons View restaurant, but disappointingly, there wasn't any sign or offering of the Chef's Selection Menu on our visit as it only seems to be available Wednesday - Saturday and we where there on a Sunday.
Here are the food and drink menus. Takeaways are available if you aren't staying over.
Like our room above the windows in the restaurant are also large and look out onto Loch Earn with the tables being spaciously apart.
We started off with wine. There are 3 fizzes by the glass, 4 whites, 2 roses, 4 reds. All £4.50 for 125mls, £6.50 for 175ml, 250ml for £8.50. Bottles £24 (Prosecco £35). The sparkling Malbec (Gouguenheim malbec Rose extra brut Mendoza) caught our attention. We don't recall seeing sparkling malbec before so this was something that we weren't expecting, like a happy marriage of fizz and strawberry jam.
With our main courses we also had the Carlomagno Fiano Pulgia 2017 with the fish, which was lightly flavoured with an oily finish and the Martinfort Malbec with the burger, which was full of rich red fruit and very quaffable.
I had the soup of the day (£6) to start. Our server didn't tell us what it was but I like a surprise every now and again! It was certainly warm and hearty. Root vegetable, lentil and a little spice?
Mrs Foodie had the ham hock terrine (£7.50). An old school starter that was filled with tender ham and lots of herby flavours. Served with a sweet chutney and a crisp salad.
Another surprise on the menu was the wagyu burger (£18), which is something you don't see often in the UK and this was a moist juicy burger upgraded with a slice of cheese. The thick cut skin-on chips were excellent too.
The Seacuterie board (£18) had some substitutions from what was listed on the menu. Here we had mackerel, salmon, pickled cockles, citrus cured trout, fish sticks, pickled cucumber slivers, bread and what we think was mustard seeds. This was a mixed bag, the trout and salmon were lovely but fish sticks, the hot dog of the sea, really shouldn’t be on a plate in an AA rosetted restaurant. I think the focus should be on quality and not quantity so this could be easily remedied on future menus.
First, the cheese (£10) was straight out fridge and not served at room temperature which can make a big difference to the taste and enjoyment. Our server also couldn't remember the names of the cheeses, other than the memorable 'Minger' which is a wee bit stinky in the good way that washed rind cheeses can be. We also had a Scottish goat cheese and a mild creamy Scottish cheddar and some pickled apple and plum. This was a tasty selection but needs a little refinement.
Chocolate Brownie (£7.50)
Ending on a high note, this was a warm, sweet and gooey ice cream brownie with a mixed berry compote and vanilla ice cream.
We took our seats, the same seats as the night before for breakfast, which is one of the coronavirus measures in place at the hotel, along with no buffet. Once seated our server brought mixed toast and pastries (cinnamon swirl and maple & pecan) over to our table.
The Eggs Benedict was massive using two full muffins rather than slicing one! The ham could have been a bit thicker and the Hollandaise sauce was a bit too salty.
The traditional porridge is made with honey and comes with a jug of double cream and a shot of Drambuie. It made a nice change from a fry up, my usual pick.
A few other things before check out
Coronavirus may have curtailed lots of activities but there is still plety of information on local attractions at the hotel. Just make sure to check they are open first.
Here's where the Beatles stayed, and you can stay here too!
There are plenty of country walks in the area. The old railway line just behind the hotel is now a path for a good few miles in each direction.
And here is one of the many views from that old railway path.
Our stay at the Four Seasons was an enjoyable one. The bedroom was a bit old fashioned but we quite like retro kitsch and how often do you ever come across real Shanks of Barrhead porcelain? As long as it's clean that's the main thing - the shower blind in the bathroom was a bit grubby though. The hotel has a homely charm and staff were chatty and always doing their best under the circumstances imposed by the 'new normal'. The restaurant was good but it's a shame we didn't get to experience the a la carte menu so pick your dates carefully when you book. We also enjoyed the wine and any hotel that provides peppermint tea in the room, the best thing to drink after a filling meal, gets bonus points from us!
St Fillans is a great place to get away from the city so in some regards we can't complain too much that the TV was really small or that the WiFi speeds were slow. Get off the phone and iPad and out into the local area! We will say that it is worth staying here to catch a sunset over Loch Earn alone. If you have dogs the hotel is also dog-friendly.
+ Ideal location for sunsets over Loch Earn
+ Great wine selection
+ Beer garden looking onto water
+ COVID-19 being well managed
+ Bathrobes provided
+ Mint tea in room
+ Paths for country walks next to hotel
- Very slow WiFi
- Small TV
- A la carte menu not available Sunday - Tuesday
- Seafood platter should focus on quality not quantity
- Shower blind could do with replacing
The Four Seasons Hotel
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Disclaimer: we received a complimentary stay at the Four Seasons hotel.