The pleasant town of Reading is a delightful destination for a short break, with summer picnics by the River Thames attracting day-tripping crowds when the sun shines. If you have time to spend a few days in Reading, you'll be rewarded by great shopping, excellent dining, riverside walks, splendid architecture and a charming welcome from the locals.
The welcome is even keener at hotels in Reading, which lies to the west of London in the county of Berkshire. There's a decent range of charming and stylish places to stay, as well as a plethora of international chain hotels offering good-value accommodation.
Located on the River Thames, at its confluence with the River Kennet, many of the charms of Reading swirl around river life: take a narrow-boat cruise along the waters, sup a cool drink by the riverside in summer (or a hot one in winter!), or stroll hand in hand with your partner along the water's edge to heighten the romance during your short break.
See the Victorian splendour of the Town Hall, visit the Maiwand Lion in the beautiful Forbury Gardens, or catch some sporting action at the Madejski Stadium. And when the weather heats up in August, prepare to jostle among the crowds when the Reading Festival brings world-famous musicians to town.
Reading hotels match the town's contrasting history and modernity nicely. There are many new-build chain hotels in the centre of town and around the outskirts, which offer everything you could need for a good night's sleep. There are also luxury hotels with charm and elegance that tell tales of their past while bundling you up in comfort.
If you're after a well-known hotel brand, you can check in with Novotel, Premier Inn, Travelodge, Malmaison, Mercure, Ibis, Crowne Plaza, Millennium, Hilton, Best Western, De Vere and Comfort.
Though visitors can happily spend a few days just in the town centre, you might find that you need to be mobile to make the most of Reading's attractions, so staying centrally may not be necessary.
Top five attractions
On the site of part of Reading Abbey, this lovely public park features tenderly-crafted gardens and is a treasure trove of historical tales.
Founded by Henry I and largely ruined by Henry VIII, the centuries-old abbey lures visitors hoping for a glimpse into the past.
One for the children, Beale Park is crammed with adventure playgrounds, wildlife and gardens on the Thames. Head to nearby Lower Basildon, only six miles from Reading, for this fun family day out.
Riverside Museum at Blake's Lock
Find out more about life on the rivers in this absorbing museum, which features a gypsy caravan and a number of interesting displays.
Museum of English Rural Life
This captivating museum run by the University of Reading explores rural village life of times gone by. Youngsters can be entertained with a number of hands-on experiences.
Reading Beer and Cider Festival; May: Thousands of pints are poured during this annual appreciation of booze, which is held in King's Meadow and features plenty of activities for all ages.
Reading Open Air Shakespeare; July: See the works of the great Bard William Shakespeare within the lovely environs of Caversham Court.
Reading Festival; August: Said to be one of the world's oldest popular music festivals, there is nothing old about this youthful and vibrant festival, which attracts fans of rock, indie, pop and a host of other musical genres. Campsites host many festival-goers, but expect hotels to be in high demand during this August Bank Holiday event too.