BACKGROUND The Four Pillars hotel group has six properties in its portfolio: The Oxford Spires Four Pillars – click here for a review; Witney Four Pillars hotel; Abingdon Four Pillars hotel; Tortworth Court Four Pillars Hotel (a Grade II listed Victorian mansion, near Bristol); Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel and the newest addition, The Four Pillars Cotswold Water Park, which opened in August 2007.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The hotel is located on a lake in the Cotswold Water Park – a protected area for wild life over 40 square miles of countryside with 200 man-made lakes. It’s the largest inland man-made waterway in Europe and there’s plenty of opportunity for leisure activities from bird watching to water sports, walking and cycling as well as visiting nearby Cotswold villages. It’s a popular venue for team building activities and incentive days. The 318-room hotel is made up of three low storey buildings connected by walkways and there’s a separate building for the Boat House restaurant as well as ample parking.
WHERE IS IT? The hotel is located on Lake 6 of the Cotswold Water Park between Cirencester and Slough and close to Cheltenham and Swindon. Exit at Junction 11a from the M5 or Junction 15 from the M4.
ROOMS There are Standard rooms, Standard Suites, Lake View suites, Connoisseur rooms and self-catering apartments. All rooms have free internet access (broadband – the rest of the hotel has free wifi access in public areas), tea and coffee making facilities, hair dryer and toiletries. My room was a one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor with sliding doors and a shared decking area overlooking the lake. There was a sitting room with an L-shaped cream sofa and a dining table and kitchen with some utensils and cutlery provided, a fridge, oven and small hob and a dishwasher. The bedroom was off the corridor with the bathroom. The heating was on (radiators) so I turned them down during the night as it became a little bit warm. The apartment was comfortable and spacious and a little more secluded as it was on the lake away from the main building of the hotel. On the evening I was staying there were three events as the hotel is popular with businesses in Swindon and large multi nationals such as Honda, which is based nearby, but I did not hear anything, which was good.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are two restaurants: The Old Boat House is a separate building, which recently received an AA Rosette and is open for lunch and dinner. It’s worth booking as it is a popular place for people to stop in on the way through the Water Park. The Brasserie is inside the main building and overlooks the lake. The atmosphere is relaxed and warm with attentive service. I enjoyed smoked salmon and fish cakes to start and tender duck breast for the main followed by a cheese board for dessert. The wine list is extensive. The staff are friendly and helpful and there’s two menus to choose from – a daily menu or a la carte. Breakfast is also served here and there is an extensive buffet with hot and cold options and tea and coffee served to the table. The atrium lobby lounge bar is a cosy area with chairs and sofas and a gas fire behind a glass screen. Directly above the bar is a mezzanine level, which has another lounge showing Sky TV.
MEETINGS AND BUSINESS FACILITIES There are three main function rooms, which can be split into smaller rooms and 15 meeting rooms catering for up to 800 people. There is a bar for each function room and separate breakout areas. The largest room is the Kingfisher Suite on the ground floor with a capacity for 350 people theatre style. The room can be divided into three smaller spaces (named Heron, Swallow and Swift) and there is also a marquis, which can be attached to the room doubling the space. The other meeting and events spaces are on the first floor. There’s the Mallard Suite (theatre-style 360, banquet 320), which can be divided into three rooms (Grebe, Coot and Moorhen) and the Drake Suite, which is a more intimate space for 70 people often used for weddings. This room has a portable bar set up outside. The smaller rooms can also be hired for private dining for up to 320 people.
HEALTH AND FITNESS FACILITIES Spa 6 has seven treatment rooms offering Decleor products, which focus on Aromatherapy. There is a Rasul room and dry floatation treatment room as well as a hydropool and a relaxation room where you can read or doze before or after a treatment. There’s a swimming pool and spacious gym with large windows and plans for a larger pool are in the pipeline (in a separate building where the children’s playground is at the moment). The hotel offers day spa packages and overnight spa breaks click here for details.
VERDICT This is the third Four Pillars hotel I have stayed at and what I like about the group is the consistency in the offering. The hotel is comfortable, the staff friendly and there are great facilities for both business and leisure travellers. A big bonus is the location in the Cotswold Water Park and the accessibility from two major motorways.
How many rooms? 318 rooms including one and two bedroom self catering apartments.
Room highlights? The view, the space the free internet access.
Contact Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel, Lake 6, Spine Road East, South Cerney, Gloucestershire, GL7 5FP. Tel +44 (0) 1285 864000; cotswoldwaterparkhotel.co.uk
NOTE although the hotel is well sign-posted from the motorway exits some older sat navs won’t pick up the postcode so try GL7 5TL.