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Reading's Pubs and Bars
In the home counties, some would shrug when it comes to the town which spawned both the Little Chef chain and comedian Ricky Gervais. What on earth could attract you there? But anyone who knows Reading, knows about the city's chic scene.
The town has a chilled atmosphere and a unique and vibrant night-life. Discerning drinkers and bar-owners alike have given Reading a new reputation for being lively and sophisticated. Yes, there are still sports bars, carpeted lobbies and average pubs – but once you get out of the station, Reading has a lot to offer. The student population patronises a tasteful selection of cheapies while the young pros keep the best wine- and cocktail-bars alive. And everyone's sorted for a simple night out because the town centre's compact and easy to navigate.
The town's grown up between two waterways: the Thames riverside to the north, and Kennet canalside to the south. The Thames riverside's next to the posh suburb of Caversham where you'll find a handful of well-established bars and pubs overlooking the water. The Kennet runs underneath the town centre, alongside the Oracle mall; chain and independent bars jostle for the best view on its banks.
To the east and west are another two distinct areas. East Reading used to be big with with Quaker movement, so it was dry until the students moved in. A couple of pubs have cropped up since, not to mention the students' union. West Reading is a bit grimy, we'll admit, but it's definitely one to watch. It's very cosmopolitan – there's a Jamaican restaurant, Asian supermarket, and Polish pub! Traditional British drinkers will like it here too: just off Oxford Road is Reading's best pub for real ale.
It's hard to ignore Reading's appeal when you start to explore. There's plenty to do between drinks, too. There's the Oracle mall, home to a big House of Fraser store as well as countless other smaller shops. There's also boat-trips along the river and great live music to be enjoyed. So, reconsider: the doldrummish Midlands atmosphere has all but died out.