Do Not Disturb – Scotland on Sunday
St Fillans has come a long way since it was once cruelly described by the Gazetteer of Scotland as a “wretched hamlet”.
The conservation village in Perth and Kinross, situated on the edge of Loch Earn, has just celebrated its 200th birthday and has aged wonderfully well as one of the most peaceful and picturesque spots in Scotland.
Since its conversion from a schoolmaster’s house in the early 1900s, The Four Seasons Hotel has become its centrepiece. It was famously utilised as a hideaway by The Beatles in 1964, the Fab Four staying in one of its chalets during a tour in which they played gigs in Edinburgh and Dundee.
Now under new management, The Four Seasons remains as rewarding a “get away from it all” experience as you could wish for.
John, Paul, George and Ringo shared one of the six chalets in the wooded hillside behind the main hotel and a plaque commemorating their visit offers a fun photo opportunity.
We stayed in one of the 12 main rooms, which was spacious, comfortable and provided a wonderful view looking straight over Loch Earn.
Staring right back at us was the “Mirror Man”, as the locals affectionately refer to artist Rob Mulholland’s celebrated work Still – a stainless steel, 2.5-metre-high statue at the water’s edge.
Our departure from the hotel the following morning happened to coincide with the removal of the artwork, which was not included in the recent sale of the hotel and has subsequently caused a bit of a stooshie over whether it will return.
Wining and dining
You can choose from the informal Tarken Bistro or the AA Red Rosette award-winning Meall Reamhar restaurant. The same chef and kitchen staff provide the food for both and we soon discovered why visitors come from far and wide to sample the fare.
We dined in the main restaurant and our starters – a wild mushroom and ricotta ravioli for me and confit chicken leg and foie gras terrine for my better half – both received an unreserved thumbs-up.
Inspired by a contemporary report from the Strathearn Herald of The Beatles’ visit, which breathlessly revealed the band enjoyed “four juicy steaks” shortly after checking in following their concert at the ABC Cinema in Edinburgh, we both opted for the 8oz ribeye of Angus beef. Served with green bean and mushroom fricassee, hand-cut chips and garlic butter, they were exceptional and only just left room to tackle a dessert of apple and hazelnut crumble with rhubarb ice cream.
Worth getting out of bed for
St Fillans is situated on the edge of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and there is no shortage of breathtaking scenery to enjoy.
After a hearty full Scottish breakfast on the morning of our departure, we took an invigorating walk beside Loch Earn and then into St Fillans. A little further down the A85, the neighbouring village of Comrie is also worth a visit.
Budget or boutique?
By any measure, The Four Seasons is excellent value for money with an option to suit most budgets, either in the main hotel itself or the well-equipped chalets.
Dogs are welcome at the hotel which offers pet-sitting and walking services for owners while they enjoy the restaurant or head out for the evening.
As an escape from city life for a precious day or two, The Four Seasons is hard to beat. A relaxing and rewarding experience which will have you longing for a return visit.
One night in standard double or twin room, prices start at £64; dinner, B&B from £98. One night in chalet, prices start at £57; dinner, B&B from £91. The Four Seasons, Lochside, St Fillans PH6 2NF (01764 685333, www.thefourseasonshotel.co.uk)