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Associations with the music festivals, and Oscar Wilde aside, Reading isn't an obvious travel destination. But it's surrounded by some of Berkshire's most green and picturesquely rolling countryside, dotted with pretty, thatched-roofed towns and villages, and run through by both the Thames and Kennet rivers. So maybe it's worth considering. Our selection of the best places to stay in Reading covers most tastes from country house hotel to ancient coaching inn.
Reading is large enough to be a city, but because of its large and beautiful abbey - now ruined - no one ever thought to build a cathedral here, so the town missed out. And though the rule was changed so that a cathedral was no longer needed, Reading has still so far been overlooked by the people who grant royal charters to cities.
Reading's size, and its location close to the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, mean that a lot of people pass through. If you're just passing though it would be a shame to miss the abbey ruins and the Forbury formal gardens which surround them.
Reading also has a free museum about itself if you're looking for more information.
Some of Reading's highlights are actually a little out of town.
- Basildon Park is an impressive Palladian mansion, lauded for its delicate original plasterwork and beautiful pleasure gardens.
- Silchester is the ruins of a Roman settlement, with a complete city wall, an amphitheatre and an ancient church. The Romans abandoned this spot, but unlike many other Roman towns it's not been built over, and there's been plenty for archaeologists to discover.
- Mapledurham is a particularly charming village best known for its working watermill - which still sells flour! - and its Elizabethan manor house.
- Reading is also close to Pangbourne, Marlow and Thatcham, all known for being particularly old and particularly lovely.
Of course Reading is also only a short train journey from London, Oxford, Windsor and Henley-on-Thames. So it's a great base for seeing the whole Thames valley.
For town centre chic
- The Forbury blends the traditional and modern with aplomb! With playful colour added to traditional style. There's also a trendy bar and restaurant, and even a luxurious 30 seat private cinema. Its a lively spot and easily one of the best places to stay in Reading!
Out of town
- The Elephant at Pangbourne is just a short distance from the 'city' of Reading, but in one of the nicest country village settings in the Thames Valley.
- The Miller of Mansfield in the pretty village of Goring has a reputation as a romantic country-inn style escape. The bar has plenty of nooks and crannies to relax in, the food is good and there are river views.
- The Olde Bell Inn is one of the oldest inns in England, so deserves that old-e. The country cooking is locally sourced, some direct from the inn's garden, and there's plenty of good country air and Thames-side strolling to be taken.
- For an extraordinary foodie treat, you can't beat the Waterside Inn at Bray. Michel Roux's award winning restaurant also has sumptuous rooms and suites so that you can make a night of it!
Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Reading, or contact, one of our friendly gurus for advice. Alternatively look at all our recommendations in Berkshire.
Best Hotels in Reading
The Olde Bell Inn 48 rooms from $163Hurley, Berkshire
Hearty, old traditional inn. Unpretentious gastro-pub restaurant. Tennis courts and nearby walks on the Thames. Crisp bedrooms with lots of natural light.Secluded setting - For escaping.Quirky - An experience!Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet, Sawdays
The Forbury 23 rooms from $228Reading, Berkshire
Large stylish townhouse hotel in the centre of Reading. Modern interiors, bright colours, all the mod-cons. Suites and apartments. Restaurant and hip bar.Romantic - Good for couples.Four poster beds - For romantics.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Michelin Travel
The Waterside Inn 11 rooms from $287Bray, Berkshire
Ultimate foodie venue with three Michelin stars, on the banks of the river Thames. Run by top chefs Michel Roux and his son Alain. Sumptuous suites and bedrooms.Restaurant - The Waterside Inn holds three Michelin stars.Recommended by - Good Hotel Guide, Relais & Chateaux