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FOUR SEASONS ST FILLANS

The last of the snow on the hills, spring flowers swaying in the breeze, glorious sunshine glinting on the loch and a sprinkle of rain after breakfast.

The weather didn't have to be quite so literal during our stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Perthshire...

Set a hop, skip and jump across the A95 to the banks of Loch Earn, the hotel offers a watery panorama all the way from St Fillans to Lochearnhead. No TV could compete with the view from our four-poster bedroom window or from the two restaurants on the ground floor. The location is undoubtedly the ace up the Four Seasons' sleeve.

Inside, the hotel is a warren of corridors with an eccentric mismatch of decorations - splashes of abstract paintings, photos of a remote mountain village, a Japanese kimono - and, back in the room, a squeaky rubber duck for bath-time fun.

I came across four separate lounge areas, two bars and a cosy library stocked with books, CDs and games (with the promise of DVDs from behind the front desk). Outside, I spotted the hotel chalet that housed The Beatles when they toured Scotland in 1964.

The more informal menu in the Tarken Bistro looked tasty, but my sights were set on dinner in the Meall Reamhar Restaurant, which prides itself as one of the 'destination' fine-dining experiences in the region. It offers good vegetarian options and a sizeable, fairly priced wine list (with a particularly notable selection of half bottles) but, on the whole, the menu does give off a rather pretentious air, with terms such as "crab and chervil tian", "assiette of Scottish pork" and "gateau of Scotch Angus/Limousin beef fillet".

That said, the produce - especially the meat - is well sourced and is nicely cooked, with intriguing and at times delicious taste combinations that take the tongue off the usual Scottish culinary byways.

This could never be mistaken for part of a chain. Instead, The Four Seasons is its own quirky character nestling comfortably into a gorgeous corner of the country.

Alan Morrison was a guest of the Four Seasons, St Fillans, Perthshire.Three nights for two on DB&B from £87 (chalet) to £105 (hotel) pppn sharing, includes dinner in the Meall Reamhar Restaurant or the Tarken Bistro. Call 01764 685 333. See thefourseasonshotel.co.uk.

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