“ Address: Lake 6 / Spine Road East / South Cerney / Gloucestershire / GL7 5FP „
~Happy Birthday Mum~
To celebrate my mother's 70th birthday last October, we planned a weekend away with her and my step-father, my sister and her partner and me and my husband. Originally we'd had a vague plan to go somewhere warm and sunny but due to my sister's partner having back problems, my mum not recovering from her hip replacement as quickly as expected and me being utterly fed up of travelling, we scaled down the plans to something more simple and decided not to go abroad. We went in search of a self-catering rental place in the UK. That should have made things easy but my sister has an elderly and cantankerous dog and wanted to bring him along and that restricted our choices. The combination of wanting somewhere with a ground floor bedroom and bathroom for mum and an owner willing to let Mad Dog Finley over their threshold was proving to be impossible. My sister kept finding rental properties around the Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester and when she persuaded a neighbour to look after Finley for the weekend, our search got easier.
My husband and I have previously stayed at one of the Four Pillars properties and we knew they were a good hotel group so I suggested that rather than hunt for a rental place and get charged way over the odds for a long weekend, we could instead book a couple of the self-catering apartments that make up part of the Four Spires Cotswold Water Park. We didn't want to book three hotel rooms and then have nowhere to spend time together as a family but the alternative of finding a rental property just wasn't working out. The Watersmeet and Watersedge apartments seemed to be idea as they are located on the same site as the Four Spires hotel but offer more space and more independence. We would get good quality hotel-style accommodation rather than someone's shabby holiday home, we'd have spacious living and dining areas and kitchens, we wouldn't be expected to spend half our time cleaning the place before giving it back and there'd be no problems with ill-equipped kitchens or putting money in the meter for power. With a four-star hotel in spitting distance we would have access to a restaurant and bar as well as a spa, swimming pool and gym. Prices were similar to booking hotel rooms and better than any of the rentals we'd been able to find.
The apartments are available as studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom options. We needed three bedrooms so we booked a one-bed apartment for my parents, specifying when we booked that we'd like a ground floor place ideally with disabled access, and a two-bedroom apartment for the rest of us. When we arrived, my sister and I headed into reception to register and get the keys along with instructions how to find the apartments. We then moved the car nearer to them and headed in to find out where they were. The Four Pillars did a great job on the disabled room but for some strange reason didn't think to put us in a room nearby - instead we were quite a long way from the parental apartment. Our two-bed was also on the ground floor facing away from the water which was rather a shame. The one-bed was also nowhere near the water.
Unfortunately I think we'd booked at a time when it was half-term and the place was busier than we'd expected. There was also a large wedding in the hotel and I couldn't help thinking that despite paying the full list price, we'd been fobbed off with viewless rooms even though we'd asked when booking and then asked again when calling a few days before arriving. For once in my life I'd paid full rate and not got any kind of discount so I was a bit miffed at not getting closer to the water.
The two-bedroom apartment was number 516 with its lovely view of the car park which is handy if........well, if you like to look at your car when sitting in your accommodation. We had a large living area with a pair of two-seater sofas and a small coffee table, a long desk and a flat screen television, and a door that opened onto the garden where we had a picnic table and benches. This was handy for my sister's partner who is a smoker and appreciated not having to walk too far to get out for a cigarette. One thing that did leave me a little miffed was the state of some of the windows which didn't look like they'd been cleaned in a long time, with the evidence of not just spider webs but whole spider cities built up in the corners.
The dining area had a table and four chairs which came in handy when we had all six of us in the room. The kitchen was very well equipped with an oven and a hob with an extractor fan over it. There was a fridge, a dishwasher, a toaster and plenty of pots and pans. Crockery and cutlery was only sufficient for four people so my parents brought their own supplies from their apartment when we ate in the room. The colour scheme was very beige and brown which was inoffensive but characterless. The pictures on the walls were odd abstract photographs of sand dunes. There were cushions everywhere which led someone to dub the place 'The Four Pillows' instead of 'The Four Pillars'.
Our apartment had two bedrooms, each with an en suite bathroom. My sister got the double bed and we got the twins - that's the luck of the drawer. Neither room had a door onto the garden but each had windows though they were high up and only my husband and I could reach them. The weekend we stayed was really warm and the ventilation was needed. In our bedroom we had an arm chair, a small desk with drawers, small wall mounted flat screen television, four good lamps but no central lighting. The room had a telephone and an internet cable, good black-out curtains, bedside tables, and a coffee table. The beds were a bit softer than I like but I slept well. We had a giant wardrobe with trouser press and ironing board which slide out. There was also a laptop safe, coffee and tea tray, and lots of clothes hanging space. Our bathroom had a shower over the bath with amazing water pressure. The sink appeared to have been magically designed to ensure that anything more than the most gentle flow of water would splash up and cover you in water.
My parents apartment was very spacious and roughly the same size as our two-bed. I'm not sure if it was extra large because of being set up for disabled access or if all the one-bed places are so large. The bathroom in particular was very large and the bedroom was as big as our bathroom and bedroom combined. You do pay quite a bit more per person for the one bed though.
~I expected countryside and peace and quiet~
Despite the promotion of this place as some kind of rural idyll it's far from quiet or peaceful. I expected the water park to be rather lovely but it was just a bit bleak and in October nothing was actually happening on the water. There's a lot of road noise which is more apparent on the water-side of the building but we didn't notice too much noise in the rooms. It's pleasant to walk around the outside of the apartments along the boardwalk and across to the hotel but the novelty wears off quite quickly. I thought there would be more places to walk around the lake but a lot of the paths are to private properties and we didn't feel encouraged to go too far.
The Four Pillars hotel has a large bar where the rest of the group headed off for a drink whilst I relaxed in the apartment. We chose not to use the other facilities such as the pool or gym because somehow we filled our time just being together and didn't need other activities. We didn't eat in the restaurant, preferring to either eat out or to bring food back to the apartments. We loved having plenty of space to be together and much preferred the apartment set up to having three double rooms in the hotel and nowhere to gather together. I believe we paid about £450 for the two apartments for two nights which compared well with the cost of going B&B at the hotel.
For what we needed, the facilities were pretty much ideal. Our parents could get away from the rest of us and have a bit of peace and independence but we had lots of space to just be together, watch television, cook and eat dinner and generally mooch around. We had no luck trying to find a rental place for 6 adults that offered 3 double rooms - most had bunk beds or sofa beds and typically one shared bathroom which would have driven us crazy. By booking the Watersmeet apartments we got all the benefits of a hotel with the space and independence of a rental property. On the downside, the Water Park was quite a disappointment and having our request for waterfront rooms ignored was disappointing. I imagined waking up to the croaking of frogs or the quacking of ducks but the predominant noise was of traffic on the road on the far side of the lake. There's very little nearby and you'll need to go into Cirencester to find any excitement (and I use the term in it's loosest sense). I'd definitely hunt down properties of this kind again - but probably not this particular one.
The Cotswold Water Park four piars hotel is a hotel based around a lake and is aimed at the conference and business users. It is situated in the Cotswold in and around a lake full of ducks and geese and has a light airey feel, each room opens onto a decked area which looks onto the lake.
I went as a delegate for a conference looking at bioethanol research but the rooms cost around 80 for a night. This price seemed pretty fair because the hotel has decent large and well designed rooms, each room as I said looks out onto the lake and has large windows and doors. The bathroom had a large and deep bath with a hot shower and plenty of tea and coffee facilities. Each room has a flat screen TV and the hotel has open access broadband access.
Let's be honest I've been to many different hotels when going on conference during my work and a nasty hotel with poor facilities makes a conference feel like a long time, but a nice well run hotel makes staying away from home seem not such a big problem.
The restaurant provided breakfast and the area was well laid out, well spaced and the open access food area was laid out well and the hot food errr hot and easy to get too. The waitresses were helpful and brought your tea or coffee very quickly. The breakfast was of course the usual laid out continental food with hot plates for the traditional English breakfast, but the sausages and bacon was kept hot and the scrambled eggs were tasty rather than turning into a leathery mulch.
The hotel has a spa which I didn't have time to enjoy but I'm told is very plush and luxurious, it has a pool and of course you can walk around the lakes and the surrounding countryside. No time this year, maybe next year?
Staying at the hotel was a pleasure, the rooms clean and user friendly, the lounge was well staffed and had a decent selection of drinks and the sitting area was well decorated and well planned.
The conference facilities were also excellent, the Mallard suite was well planned and had the usual computer facilities, but has been thought out for such things as poster sessions and breakout sessions. The room also had a foyer area with free constantly available coffee and water was placed on every table which delegates sat around.
As a place to go for a conference it was brilliant and as a place to stay overnight I couldn't recommend it high enough. The hotel is in a lovely setting, is well run has plenty of parking and the bars and restaurant are well thought out, decorated and are comfortable to sit and enjoy.
The hotel is near Swindon and is easily accessed of the M4 and well signposted (thankfully). I'm looking forward to next years conference already.
Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel
Spine Road East
Tel: 01285 864000
Fax: 01285 864001
I went to this hotel for a girlie spa break with a friend last summer and it was lovely.
We took advantage of this offer:
Spa Retreat - 2 night stay for 2 - £324
This package includes bed and breakfast for 2 nights,
one 1 hour Relaxer Body Massage or Relaxer Facial,
plus one 30 minute treatment of your choice per person
The room was modern, clean and had full tea and coffee facilities, free internet access (yippee!) and a television. We had massive windows and had a few over one of the lakes, which was a real treat.
Breakfast was standard hotel-continental fare and the dining room was roomy and large. We didn't have to wait long to sit down, even though there was a wedding party in the hotel at the time.
We ate our lunch in the lounge bar in the foyer, which did a selection of salads and sandwiches for about £5 each. For dinner we went to the 'Gastro Pub' which has beautiful views over the lake. The food on offer was a cut above normal pub grub (reflected in the price) and delicious. Staff were really accomodating when I asked for a larger version of a starter for my main, so I was really impressed.
The best bit. We had full use of the spa over the two days we were at the hotel. We paid a supplement to have hot stones massages which were heaven, and I had a lovely facial, while my friend had an 'odd' experience in a dry flotation room. The spa staff were really professional and made us feel very at ease. There's a decent sized swimming pool with a jacuzzi at one end, another bubbly thing (hard to describe, but it was lovely) and cold pressure showers at the other. The pool was clean but not too chlorinated, which is important to me as my sensitive skin normally drives me out of the pool really quickly and I stayed in this one for hours. It's worth noting that children are allowed in the pool between 3 and 6, and it got pretty noisy during that time when I was there!
There's also a large sauna and steam room, and loungers for relaxing on.
As with the rest of the hotel, the spa and changing room areas were spotless so I have no complaints.
Things to do
I understand that there's lots to do around the hotel but to be honest, my friend and I just went for leisurely strolls round the lakes. The Cotswold Water Park Tourist Information Centre is next to the hotel, so if you do fancy doing something more energetic and having a bit of an explore, you can easily find out more.
The hotel is clean and modern, the staff are friendly, professional and well turned out. The area is stunning, and fab to walk around and the spa was one of the nicest I've been to. Definitely recommend this for a relaxing weekend away
Last month I decided that it would be a good idea to take some training courses in order to demonstrate that I was being a good accountant and keeping up with my "Continuing Professional Development". Something we accountants have to do. A few hours later I was booked on a two and a half day residential course which was to be held in the Cotswold Water Park Hotel, part of the Four Pillars Hotel chain.
My hotel accommodation was booked by the course organisers and included in the course fee paid. However I decided to arrive the day before in order to avoid a very early start on the first morning of the course. The hotel website was offering rooms for £80 a night but before booking I called to see if there was a better delegate rate available. I was surprised to find that delegates were being offered additional nights for £115, however I mentioned I had seen £80 on their website and they agreed to match it.
The hotel is quite new and the website warns that its postcode is not recognised by some satellite navigation systems, however it was extremely easy to find. It is 20 minutes from Junction 15 of the M4 and situated just set back from a main road.
When I arrived I found there to be plenty of parking space and was soon parked up and heading into reception. The lobby was large, fresh and modern as I had expected in a new hotel. It was also open plan to a fairly large bar area and the restaurant was just off to one side as well. I was checked in reasonably quickly and provided with directions to my room on the first floor.
I was pleased with the room that was to be my home for three nights. The first thing I noticed was the large French windows overlooking the lake, it appeared that many rooms would enjoy similar views as the hotel is long and narrow and there were rooms on the opposite bank as well.
The room itself was above average in size and the bright and airy feel from downstairs continued in here. The decor was in shades of beige and chocolate and the bedding was fresh, white cotton. As well as the double bed, the room had a sofa and coffee table, a desk and a clothes hanging area which on one side had a pull out tray containing a kettle and a generous supply of tea, coffees and hot chocolate sachets. The TV was a wall mounted flat screen and had a decent selection of channels, not just the five basic ones. Although the hotel claims there is free wireless internet access in every room, this is not true. The free wireless access is only available in public areas of the hotel, in the bedrooms you need to plug in. There is not a great deal to say about the bathroom, it was white, modern and in good condition as one would expect from a new hotel. The shower was over the bath and the towels were still fluffy.
Breakfast was included in my room rate and was served in the restaurant just off reception. However I was stocked up with fruit and cereal bars and decided to forego breakfast in favour of a longer lie in. I did take my lunch each day in this restaurant and considering the catering was for a good 150 delegates if not more, the food was pretty good. It was a self service hot buffet and I opted for roast salmon and vegetables one day and vegetarian lasagne the next. I resisted the delicious looking cheesecake afterwards and just had coffee which was served at the table.
In the evenings dinner was laid on for delegates in one of the private dining rooms. I really didn't feel the need to dine with hundreds of accountants I had never met before and opted for room service and Eastenders instead. It was a good option, quick service and tasty food.
The hotel has a gym and swimming pool, but I did not use either despite my good intentions beforehand. There is also a spa and a reasonable range of treatments, although they were slightly more expensive than I had expected. The hotel literature also boasts of large grounds and offers activities such as horse riding, cycling and various water sports.
But my reason for being here was a conference and there was no time for these things. The conference rooms were on the first floor, it appeared that delegates had been placed in the bedrooms nearest to the conferences rooms, well certainly I had been, which meant it was convenient and easy to pop back during short breaks between sessions.
We had taken over three large conference rooms as three lectures were taking place simultaneously and delegates opted for whichever one was most interesting or relevant to them. I was in each of the rooms at some point and they were similar in size and layout. Most importantly the rooms were large, well ventilated and the temperature was comfortable. The last thing one wants is eight hours of accountancy lectures in a stuffy room. The tables were laid out in long rows, covered with white table clothes and there were supplies of mints, water and pens and pads every two or three seats. The chairs themselves were well spaced out but as the rooms were below capacity it was easy to spread out anyway.
At the start of the day and between sessions refreshments were served in a break out area just outside. Everything happened on time and to plan and the stocks inside the meetings rooms were replenished regularly. Overall organisation was very good, this would be only partly due to the accountancy body host but certainly the hotel played the largest part.
I had an extremely pleasant and comfortable stay in this hotel and cannot find any fault. That said, I would hesitate to book it for a leisure break as if I were going to the Cotswolds for the weekend, I would probably prefer to stay somewhere smaller and with more character. I would not rule it out though, it is in a good location and if the price were right I would certainly consider it. On the other hand, as a conference hotel it was superb and I have rated it in the context of that, my own experience.
Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel
Spine Road East
Tel: 01285 864000
Fax: 01285 864001