Four Pillars Hotel and Spa
Lake 6, Spine Road East
Tel: 01285 864000
If like my family you are townies then there is nothing better than waking up in the countryside after a good night’s rest. The smells, birds and wildlife are all alien to the townie. It was with this premise that we all headed off to The Four Pillars Hotel near Cirencester for a bit of R and R country style. This contemporary hotel and spa is situated in the heart of the Cotswolds Water Park. A more tranquil setting you’d be hard pushed to find and it’s a haven for all sorts of wildlife.
As well as offering all the facilities of a large hotel they have self-contained family apartments. This is a very practical way to take younger children away. Our set up included two large bedrooms each with an en-suite and a very large lounge with a fully fitted kitchen at one end. And best of all the view from both bedrooms and the lounge was of a vast lake and a smattering of other hotel buildings. The large balcony would provide a perfect breakfast spot in the summer.
The hotel has a good restaurant, The Brasserie that was open when we arrived on Friday evening. It’s worth booking as they close at 9:30pm. There are all sorts of packages available with your accommodation so you can book and it’s all included which is what we did. A loved the garlic bread and ate his and most of mine, he followed that with roast chicken. The rest of us scoffed at a mezza board, which had the usual suspects of tzatziki, aubergine pickle, blush tomatoes and olives with some good bread.
Nibbles over (it’s amazing how hungry you can get on a Friday night driving out of London) the starters came and on the whole were good. My haddock and chive fishcake tasted as it should but could have had more chives. X enjoyed the very light salmon mousse served in the form of an obelisk and some pickles. A continued with the garlic bread, as if you hadn’t guessed.
The service here is good and plentiful, there seemed to be staff everywhere. In the main reception area, which is vast, there is a bar open all hours should you need it and snacks and a shorter restaurant menu available. If you don’t fancy the formal dining experience then this is a good alternative. Of course if you are organised you will have brought all you need for your apartment and you’re sorted. We didn’t bring a main meal but did have tea and milk and a few snacks in case the children were peckish at inconvenient times.
The mains rolled up and they looked a picture. X tried swordfish steak and liked it, my corn fed supreme of chicken was warming and a good texture and M’s Morrocan spiced lamb rump (this seems to be on menus everywhere at the moment) was probable the best dish on the table. The only slight let down was A’s chicken. It’s not that it was bad but just a little lack luster. As a child’s meal it could have looked a bit more interesting that a chicken breast sitting on mash potato with a dish of peas and a gravy boat on the side. He did enjoy eating it though.
The swimming pool is a big draw for the hotel and spa customers. It’s worth taking note that there are restricted times for children to use the pool due to adults from the spa having priority, so you have to go early or late in the day with kids. It’s a big pool with plenty of room there is also a gym if you have the urge.
What sets this hotel apart from others is the location. Water is a very calming influence and just sheer pleasure to sit and watch on an autumn’s day. The birds cast a different ripple each and every time they land or take off.
We were full but the kids wanted to try dessert so along came a very theatrical number for M, a raspberry ‘flaming’ crème brûlée, this was carried gingerly by a waiter, as it had a really spectacular flame. Very tasty and really had a raspberry hit, a tip-top dessert. My cheese was pleasantly local; Double Gloucester, Oxford Blue and Simon Weaver Cotswold Brie were among my board. It’s really heartening to see local cheese being used. I had forgotten how many good producers there are in the Cotswolds.
The weather wasn’t too kind the next day so we decided against water sports such as; sailing, wind surfing, cycling or going for a long walk. A pity as the countryside in and around the water park (in which the hotel sits) is beautiful and calm. Nature is all around and the stresses of the city fall of one’s back like water of a duck.
After breakfast (which is very good as well) and a civilised checkout of 11am were headed off to Oxford for a spot of Christmas shopping. A short drive away it is effortlessly charming in that familiar way. It has been filmed so much for TV and the big screen that we felt we knew it well. The atmosphere despite the inclement weather was really jolly and Christmassy with lights and sounds everywhere cosseted by all that history and culture.
A few presents purchased and we popped into Byron’s burger joint for a spot of lunch. I hadn’t realized they had made it out of London. A perfect burger is standard here so we all felt refreshed and ready for our return trip. It may well have only been one night but it was enough to blow the cobwebs away and enjoy those ducks and geese landing in front of our balcony. A good family away trip in an outstanding part of the country, thoroughly recommended.