Background The Four Pillars hotel group has six properties in its portfolio: Oxford Spires Four Pillars; Witney Four Pillars hotel; Abingdon Four Pillars hotel; Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel, The Four Pillars Cotswold Waterpark (for a review click here), and this property, Tortworth Court Four Pillars Hotel.
The hotel is housed within a Grade II listed Victorian mansion near Bristol, and recently completed a significant refurbishment to its public areas on the ground floor, including the reception, lobby, Moreton’s restaurant and the Atrium Bistro Bar. The hotel is popular with families at weekends and team building groups and conferences during the week.
What’s it like? The original house is a Grade II Listed Victorian mansion with 30 acres of parkland and an Arboretum of over 300 trees. The approach to the hotel is wonderful – just moments from the motorway and suddenly you feel you are in the depths of the Wiltshire countryside.The hotel is at the end of a long drive flanked with wild flowers and mature trees.
Inside, the lobby has recently been refurbished – make sure you appreciate the feature grand wooden staircase as it spirals up above you when you check in. There are bright modern paintings on the walls in contrast to the Elizabethan wood.
The hotel is welcoming – it feels like a large country house rather than a hotel. I was directed to drive round to my room and park outside and it felt as if I was driving a long way from the main facilities, out on a limb in a separate annex, but I soon realised I had looped round, and in fact my room was only a short walk under cleverly covered passageways back to the main reception.
For incentive weekends and conferences this property is ideal – there are plenty of team building activities to do in the grounds and the meeting and dining facilities are versatile and extensive. When I was there I could not truly appreciate the grounds as it rained constantly but being surrounded by a wealth of rare trees in such a grand historic house was a privilege.
Where is it? In south Gloucestershire, close to Bristol and around a mile from Junction 14 of the M5 down a winding country lane.
Room facilities Rooms vary in décor and style depending on which part of the hotel you are staying in (the main house has 43 rooms - see breakdown in box below). The majority of the rooms are in the modern extensions and my standard room had tea and coffee making facilities, a safe, mini bar, wifi internet access, a desk and views over the small car park and gardens beyond.
The room was spacious with a large desk and decent sixed bathroom with both shower and bath. Connoisseur rooms provide a larger bedroom area and incorporate period features such as original stone window frames and exposed beams. The grand Four Poster room and the Suite are often used for weddings.
Restaurants and bars The hotel has two restaurants. Moreton’s is the hotel’s main fine dining restaurant situated in the original library and was part of the recent refurbishment. It is a large and impressive space divided into three areas by original oak wood panelling. The walls are covered from floor to ceiling with carved wooden book shelves and ornate arches and there is a grand fireplace too. The views over the terraced gardens to the lake beyond are delightful. Breakfast and dinner are served here.
During my visit I dined at Moreton’s. It is advisable to book in advance as when I tried to get a table for two at 19.30 I was told it was booked out and my options were reduced to 18.30 or 2045. The restaurant has 170 covers and while it was not busy at 18.30, service was friendly and prompt and the waiter suggested a Pinot Noir to try with my main course of Duck Confit.
Bread and olive oil with table water were presented with the menu and for starter I enjoyed the scallops served on a hot slate with pea puree. The main was a winner – duck confit with parsley mash and carrots – the meat was rich and tender and the portion was a good size. For desert I opted for the hot chocolate brownie with ice cream.
Breakfast in Moreton’s is served between 7.30am and 10am on weekends and 6.30am-9.30am during the week. I made the mistake of arriving at breakfast at peak time on Sunday morning (around 9.45am) and had to queue for the hot buffet breakfast. There was a good range on offer as well as cold meats and cheeses, cereals, yoghurts, bread and pastries and a variety of juices. Tea or coffee is served at the table.
The sixty foot high Atrium Bistro bar has also been also and it’s a stunning space. The atrium links two parts of the hotel and is light and airy during the day; good for meetings over a coffee and in the evening creative lighting make it a relaxing place for an after-dinner drink. When I was there a wedding party were enjoying champagne and canapés - sheltered from the rain.
Brunel’s Bar is a large light room on the right as you enter the hotel. It’s a relaxed place with sofas and comfortable chairs ideal for coffee or to meet people before dinner.
Meeting and business facilities The hotel can accommodate up to 800 delegates in a range of rooms from modern to the more unusual offerings. There is free wifi access throughout.
The Orangery, which was built in 1899, is the most stunning space, a separate glass structure opposite the main entrance of the hotel and surrounded by parkland and mature trees, this room is ideal for a banquet or product launch. It can cater for 90 people for a sit down dinner or 100 people theatre-style. It’s a self-contained space with a private bar and toilet facilities.
The new Westminster Suite (which opened last year) is a modern event area built specifically for large conferences and wedding banquets, with break out areas and a separate bar. The Westminster Suite measures 344 square metres, and the ballroom can cater for 400 people theatre style, 280 banqueting style or 220 cabaret style. The room can be divided into four sections for smaller events.
On the first floor of the original house there are four rooms: Paxton, Stevenson, Kipling and Morris. Kipling is a good room for private dining and has great views over the gardens.
On the third floor (the only room on this level) is the Room at the Top. Literally on the roof of the building the views from this area are panoramic as three of the walls are made up of floor to ceiling windows. It’s a majestic space and you can almost imagine great deals and ideas conjured up in this room. It can cater for 60 theatre style or 34 for a boardroom meeting.
Leisure facilities Peels spa offers a swimming pool, gym and four treatment rooms with treatments using Decelor products. The waiting area to the spa small but there is a “spa bar” for guests who want to relax and read books in their towels, just down the corridor. I enjoyed an Indian head massage for 25 minutes, which included a wonderful shoulder and neck massage.
Verdict An excellent choice for meetings, conferences and events – with plenty of opportunity for team building activities. A solid business traveller offering in a picturesque location close to Bristol.
- How many rooms? 190 in total. Standard 116, Connoisseur 53, Patio 9, Four Poster 2 and Suites 1. There are 43 rooms in the original manor house: 12 Standard, 29 Connoisseur, 1 suite, 1 four poster).
- Room highlights? Peaceful and views over the extensive grounds.
- Price Booked on the website, one month in advance a standard room was available mid-week from £89; £99 with breakfast; £118 dinner bed and breakfast.
- Contact Tortworth Court Four Pillars Hotel, Wotton-under-Edge, South Gloucestershire; tel +44 (0)1454 263000; tortworth-court-hotel.four-pillars.co.uk