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Down by the Waterside
Cotswold Water Park Four Pilars Hotel (South Cerney)
Member Name: koshkha
Cotswold Water Park Four Pilars Hotel (South Cerney)
Advantages: Perfect accommodation for our family get together
Disadvantages: The water park is dull and there's not much to do there in October
~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.
Summary: We all had a great time but I think the location is a little disappointing