Disclaimer: This stay was gifted but all opinions are our own.
Hidden away in the central Highlands of Perth and Kinross is a little village called St Fillans.
It’s a village that we had passed through years before on our journey to Taynuilt but hadn’t taken the time to stop in, only admiring it from the car as we drove on by. It’s funny how you often do that and with all the best intentions of coming back and really experiencing something that you think looks nice, you often don’t find the time.
But here we are, admittedly it has been much longer since than we had hoped but we have nestled away in our room at The Four Seasons Hotel St Fillans, overlooking the beautiful Loch Earn and soaking up every lost moment from the years passed.
From the minute we arrived at our hotel in one of the United Kingdoms most picturesque villages, St Fillans, we have been met with nothing but kindness and words spoken with the type of ease that you feel when talking with old friends.
Pulling up to the main entrance which boasts free parking outside the main building and private parking towards the chalets, this is an extremely impressive location.
With a warm welcome, checked in and room keys in hand, we were looking forward to settling into our room, having a nosey around the hotel and getting out and about to explore the village.
We had a very large room (room 21) with views overlooking the incredible water of Loch Earn. Undoubtedly, this is the main attraction for visiting, it’s just beautiful and I find nothing more calming than being by the water.
There are …… rooms within The Four Seasons Hotel and I’m sure many of these have a water view, there is also the option of family-friendly chalets, or the self-catered Vivaldi apartment to the back of the hotel, which offer a little more privacy and more of a woodland view as opposed to just the water.
Although we were very fortunate to have had a very large, what I think was a superior double room, it was quite sparse and traditional in decor. I have no issues with that if that’s what is marketed and I think the view of the water is the main selling point, but I would like to see some modernisation happen in the near future.
Other rooms available include a twin room with twin beds, the classic double and the four poster room.
We had our evening meal in the Tarken Bar and Bistro located within the Four Seasons St Fillans. This is described as an informal bistro which I think hits the nail on the head. There is indoor and outdoor seating available and as with the majority of the hotel, spectacular views of Loch Earn. The staff are incredibly friendly and easy to talk to which makes for a great experience in my eyes.
To start, Peter had a red pepper and chilli soup which tasted fresh and delicious, I had opted for the scampi and tartar sauce which again was lovely and felt like good quality and amount of fish within the breadcrumb, but the prawns had not been deveined which was somewhat unappetising.
The starters were very large and I would recommend these as sharers if you intended on having three courses.
For main, Peter chose a venison burger with a pretzel bun along with some home cooked chips. He enjoyed it but didn’t feel it was anything memorable. I chose the steak with the same thick home cooked chips and although I ate it all and it was a great cut of meat, it was not cooked how I had requested. I had asked that the steak be cooked rare and I do like it as such, however, the steak arrived medium verging on well done in my opinion and starting to get a little tough. Although edible and still very tasty, I would have been thoroughly disappointed had I been paying the cost of £24-50 asked for this.
For dessert, we decided to share a lemon tart with mango sorbet and I actually really enjoyed this. Peter preferred the sorbet which I found a little too watery but still had plenty of flavour.
Gluten-free and vegetarian options also available.
Although not bad, I wouldn’t describe this hotel as having a chef. The meal standards were akin to those you may cook at home, which is not always a bad thing as everyone loves home cooking but I don’t feel that the prices being charged were in line with the quality of food served. However, I do think that there is a lot of great quality local produce used which I believe would more than justify the costs asked, but the presentation and knowledge of how to best execute the cooking are amiss.
I do hope that the Meall Reamhar Restaurant (award winning two AA Rosette restaurant) fares better with the quality of cooking as it is more of a fine dining experience, but the website does state that it is the same kitchen team. The Meall Reamhar Restaurant is only open from May-October and offers a five-course dinner with accompanying wines for each dish and this comes in at approx £69 per head.
After the meal we made our way to the bar by the reception within the main hotel building, not being big drinkers we opted for some tea and coffee by the open fire where you can also pick up one of the many board games available for some wholesome fun.
If you prefer to return to your room for some peace, you may want to pick up a book or DVD from the library on the half landing.
I would describe The Four Seasons Hotel as a digital detox as the WIFI signal is so poor, but what do you expect from such a remote location and I do think it’s nice to turn off and get back to basics sometimes. You don’t realise just how dependent you are until it’s taken away from you.
When it came to sleep, I found the walls to be incredibly thin and could hear the man next door snoring heavily away throughout the night (his poor wife!). Sometimes these things can’t be helped and it didn’t affect or ruin our stay in any way. The bed was comfortable and we both had a pleasant sleep, I actually woke much later than I usually would which I think is a good sign. Probably also in part thanks to the fresh air!
As we stayed on a Bank Holiday weekend, the usual breakfast had been replaced by a brunch which was available from 10 am – 2 pm. There was still the option of a continental breakfast with fresh yoghurt and compote, pastries, seeds, nuts, cereals, the option of fresh fruits, fish and meats but the main choices were for some warm breakfasts.
Peter chose french toast with scrambled eggs and maple syrup for breakfast and I chose the American style pancake with poached egg, crispy bacon and maple syrup. Much like the meal the night before, I thought these were cooked quite nicely but with very amateur cooking skills and not as I would expect from a restaurant. It was nice and it was edible, the American style pancake was nothing of the sort, resembling more of a crepe. With the choices on offer and the presentation, I think it was a nice brunch but I don’t feel that it justified the £25 a head cost attached.
Overall, the hotel seems a little lost in direction at the moment. I believe that there are ongoing refurbishments happening throughout The Four Seasons and I can appreciate that is no small task but at the moment it feels very confused in terms of some very traditional and some slightly more modern decor and as a guest, it left me a little confused as to what the real goal in mind was.
This was felt right through to the genres of music playing around the hotel as we would move from The Beatles, to instrumental Queen, some operatic and then more trance sounding music. I don’t consider any of this to be bad but it felt very mismatched and confusing as a visitor and I think that this is the general consensus from guests at the moment from reading other reviews online.
I think this hotel is best suited towards adults looking to enjoy a slower pace or perhaps enjoy one of the many walks in the area. It may be different if booking one of the chalets where there is more freedom, especially with the availability of some water sports nearby but overall, I feel this hotel is aimed towards an older demographic, although I do think it would be fantastic to hire the chalets with some friends over winter.
The Four Seasons is a pet-friendly hotel (I love dog-friendly hotels!) and cats and dogs will be well looked after with their own special menu to choose from. There is also the option of a dog walking or pet-sitting service for a small added fee if you don’t want to leave your pet alone while you eat. Bedding can also be taken or supplied if required.
I don’t feel as though there is a clear focus in mind other than the intention to make a change. I don’t think the hotel is where they want to be yet, but I think they have the makings of a great hotel if the right changes are made and would love to return for a relaxing stay once this is complete.