Perthshire in autumn and a stay at the Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons Hotel Review – Perthshire at its best
With autumn comes a visit to Perthshire. It is probably my favourite time of year in Scotland as the landscapes come to life in a splash of colour and the weather is at its most consistently…..decent. Nowhere sees it better than Big Tree Country and this weekend I’m paying a visit to the Four Seasons Hotel in St Fillans, opportunistically located on the eastern shore of Loch Earn.
THE BEATLES STAYED HERE! Bet that caught your attention. More on that later.
Before my visit to the hotel, all the ingredients are there for a visit to one of my favourite examples of rural Scotland – The Long and Winding Road through Glen Lyon. See what I did there, was too good to miss. Sorry. But yes, this is one of Perthshire’s absolute treasures and far enough out of the way for most visitors to ensure that it’s superbly tranquil most of the calendar year. Running for 34 zig-zaggy miles, there are only very occasional houses dotted along the route and there is that ominous road-to-nowhere feel that increases with every turn. Its proximity to the famously desolate Rannoch Moor is no accident and the scenery throughout the drive is superb.
This is where Perthshire really excels. Being so close to the central belt there is easy access for most of the population for day trips and longer, and yet so much of it manages to retain an incredible remoteness. A massive area of the country in truth, it is blessed with great diversity and seemingly abandoned landscapes that you can’t help but feel belong much further north.
After a long day behind the wheel, my end destination is a very welcome sight. St Fillans is a picturesque wee place boasting some superb properties and intricate architecture. The highlight though is clearly Loch Earn. Popular for water sports in summer, the shore-hugging drive from Lochearnhead in the west to St Fillans in the east along the A85 is another memorable one. With its origins dating as far back as the early 1800s when it was home to the manager of the local lime kilns, the hotel has enjoyed a long-coveted spot.
The food at the Four Seasons is superb. A predominantly Scottish kitchen, everything is of the highest standard. With seafood and game stealing the show for me with the mains, the chocolate mousse for dessert is dissolve-in-the-mouth glorious. An extensive wine list, including a memorable Stellenbosch red, complete a fantastic meal. Three courses is as much as my wee stomach can handle and it’s a defeated man that staggers away from this table for a recovery period. Food is integral to hotel stays such as this and the Four Season’s terrific menu gets the balance just right.
As is so often the way of it, people make the place. The staff at the Four Seasons are everything you could ask for and more. It was a particularly nice treat to meet Andrew, the owner. A fellow traveller and lover of natural landscapes, his passion adorns the hotel interior. From photography to furnishings, his worldwide exploits – with a clear Asian focus – tell stories of their own and add so much more to the mood of the place from the safe and generic feel that so many accommodation providers opt for. Character. Always important. Speaking of which…..THE BEATLES STAYED HERE!
Staying at the hotel while on tour in the 60’s, the band had themselves two of the chalets to the rear of the hotel. John and Paul apparently stayed in the one below and they all took full advantage of the surroundings in their brief visit, taking turns at exploring Loch Earn and enjoying some rare serenity at a time when most of the world was chasing them. Star struck is not something I do much of but…..The Beatles, come on now, that’s brilliant.
The Four Seasons offers twelve rooms in the main body of the hotel, most facing out over the Loch and two with four poster beds. The 6 chalets in the wooded hillside to the rear of the hotel are loch facing and a good option for those looking for more privacy. There are numerous common areas for relaxing with a read and a glass of something amber from the bar and there is a welcoming feel throughout.
Walking opportunities abound both for those looking for an easy stroll or for more adventurous hikes up nearby Munros and the hotel have maps and guides available. Standouts in the area, aside from Glen Lyon, include the drive around beautiful Loch Tay and the ascent of mighty Ben Lawers. One of my favourite mountains in Scotland, Lawers offers some of the best views in the region. For more regional highlights check out my best of Perthshire blog and for more on Perth itself, here’s my day trip to Perth musings.
Although I was invited to stay as a guest at the Four Seasons Hotel, I’m picky about the accommodation I stay at and even pickier about the ones I review. I would not recommend any third party unless I considered them to be of a very high standard and in the case of a stay at the Four Seasons, the hotel adds great value to any visit to this wonderful part of Scotland.