Your inside guide to the ultimate weekend in Reading
Best known for its music festival, university and top notch nightlife, Reading makes for a great destination for a wild weekend away.
Reading at a glance:
- Just a short hop from London, Reading is a compact yet bustling university town easily negotiated on foot
- Home to one of the UK’s largest beer festivals every May, this is a place that knows how to serve a decent pint
- Famed for the Reading Festival held every August, it’s a popular destination for music-lovers
- Tranquil parks and a range of outdoor pursuits are on offer within easy reach of the urban charms of the town centre
Town Centre - a one-stop stag spot
The town centre offers a mix of everything you need for a proper stag do. You can even inject a bit of culture with a quick visit to the ruins of Reading Abbey, which can be viewed from Forbury Gardens and from Chestnut walk which runs alongside the river Kennet. When it comes time to hit the pubs and bars, though, you won’t have to look hard in this area, with many of the watering holes boasting riverside views.
The north side of the town centre is another party hotspot with many of the big name clubs and bars here, as well as the train station, meaning you can get into the swing of things as soon as you arrive. You’ll also find casinos including the Genting Club Reading and the Grosvenor Casino here to add that touch of high roller excitement to your big weekend.
Reading University – mix with the students
From September to July, Reading is home to more than 17,000 university students. While this can mean crowded clubs on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, it also means plenty of places offering student-friendly prices on their drinks. Whether you want to mingle with those in higher education or relive your own uni days, hitting the clubs and pubs around the university can be a great night out.
Madejski Stadium - for your footie fix
Reading loves its home team and if you want to get in on the live action then you can catch a game at the impressive Madejski Stadium. Reading FC, known as The Royals, have a recent history of yo-yoing between the upper tiers of English football, but you can expect world class entertainment whatever division they are playing in.
Best bars and clubs in Reading:
Pitcher & Piano, Friar Street - www.pitcherandpiano.com/where-are-we/reading
With a great cocktail menu, this bar and restaurant oozes class. Whether you want an evening of mixed drinks in comfy leather armchairs or an upmarket take on a typical pub lunch menu, Pitcher & Piano is the perfect choice. It’s also available for booking, so you can be sure to get a great seat even on a busy night.
Mix Bar, Kings Walk - www.mix-bar.com/
Add some regal class to your night out by strutting your stuff along Kings Walk to Mix Bar, just outside The Oracle, a classy joint that specialises in cocktails and gives off an extremely chilled vibe. There is also a VIP lounge that can be privately hired, perfect for adding that special touch if there’s a group of you planning a trip.
Purple Turtle, Gun Street - www.purpleturtlebar.com/
Is quality music the essential ingredient for your favourite nights out? Purple Turtle was founded by musicians and live music is very much at the core of what it offers. There’s a wide variety of music styles on the calendar at any given time, and an equally diverse list of cocktails, ales, and craft brews. As a bonus, it’s next door to Sakura, one of Reading’s best clubs.
RISC Global Cafe, London Street - www.risc.org.uk/globalcafe
Don’t let the political name of the Reading International Solidarity Campaign’s Global Cafe and Bar (try saying that after a few jars) put you off. This is a great boozer with some amazing live music. It offers a mix of musical styles, including jazz, dub, and punk, and is a favourite for locals in the know.
After Dark, London Street - www.theafterdarkclub.com/
While many of Reading’s clubs can fill up with students on weekdays, this city centre club remains very much welcoming to big groups looking for a fun-filled night out. It features a regular old school indie night that will keep you on the dance floor if you aren’t into the usual chart club offerings.
For a rock and roll club night with an alternative twist, Sub 89 is the place to be. Boasting a subterranean hive of social activity pretty much every night of the week, this intimate club hosts comedy, themed music nights and an eclectic mix of live acts. Oh, and the drinks start from £1!
Looking to cut some shapes and let loose for a few hours? Lola Lo is a vibrant spot which is packed with party going uni students and locals on weekends and there are more drinks specials here than you could shake a stick at. If a mix of commercial rock, modern R&B, dance and hip hop are up your alley, as well as cheap hooch, you’re sure to have a top night out at Lola Lo.
A weekend in Reading wouldn’t be complete with a trip to Treehouse and this futuristic party den offers the opulent feel of an exclusive members club, without the insane price tag. This two floored venue serves up delicious cocktails every night and with karaoke, DJs and other fun and games all on the menu, you really can’t go wrong.
The Q Club is one of Reading’s most popular late night spots and if you’re looking for a bit of glamourous debauchery, you won’t be disappointed. This pretty colossal club draws in huge crowds every single weekend, and it’s nights vary from headbanging heavy rock classics right the way though to foot pumping house anthems - so it’s worth checking out what’s on before you head inside!
Food: eat like a local:
Plenty of familiar names and chains are on offer in and around The Oracle, but for something a little different try out one of the more independent dining locations.
London Street Brasserie (www.londonstbrasserie.co.uk/
) is a firm favourite, offering a large menu of high quality dishes. If the gourmet edge of the LSB isn’t your style, consider the Spice Oven World Buffet (www.spiceoven.co.uk/
) restaurant. Here you can get your fill of Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Italian, Indian, Spanish and French food.
If a curry is what you crave then head straight to Zyka. This bring-your-own-booze Indian restaurant is a hit with the locals, and if you forget your drinks there’s an off-licence conveniently located a few doors down.
For the morning after the night before, Reading’s best hangover cure has to be Cafe Yolk (https://www.facebook.com/cafeyolk
). Located near the University of Reading, it offers the perfect head-clearing breakfasts, including pancakes, smoothies, and delicious fry-ups.
The best view of the city:
Whether you’re seeking a bit of peace and quiet or nursing a hangover, Forbury Gardens is one of Reading’s most relaxing locations. In 2013, it was crowned Reading’s best hidden gem, but with its central location it is hardly a secret. During the summer, you can watch Sunday afternoon concerts on the bandstand too.
Reading is well connected to the rest of the UK thanks to its large central train station. However, once you’re in town, you might not need much in the way of transportation. With everything pretty close together, walking is sufficient to get many places. If you’re heading a little further afield, such as to the uni or stadium then buses are regular and cheap. If you need a taxi then you’ll find queues of black cabs outside The Oracle and the train station.