The Roseate Reading

After months of lost living, Michael Edwards catches up at Reading’s five-star oasis of civilisation

roseate reading

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to review one of the Roseate chain in London and it was so good we sent Michael Edwards to check out the Roseate Reading.

Missed going to the cinema? Visiting an art gallery? Relaxing me-time at a spa? Sipping a cocktail? Working out in the gym? Taking afternoon tea? Choosing from a menu? Sleeping in a four-poster bed? 

You can catch up and tick all those boxes at The Roseate Reading, the town’s only five-star hotel. Formerly Berkshire’s Shire Hall, the elegant 1911 red-brick and cream Portland stone construction has been transformed into what has been called the “UK’s sexiest town house.”

Sat in The Secret Garden indulging in a Women in Love cocktail, by the fairy-light lit pomegranate tree, or relaxing with a couples’ 300 minute Aheli Journey in the spa – steam, body scrub, body wrap, massage and facial –  it is easy to understand where the “sexiest townhouse” compliment is coming from. And some couples even book the private cinema of 30 Italian leather covered plush seats, for the film of their choice, on the ultimate date-night experience. Who says Reading isn’t romantic? 

After all those lockdown hours reimagining your living space, flicking through lifestyle magazines and websites, this is interior design heaven. 

Beautifully appointed suite at Roseate Reading
Beautifully appointed suite at Roseate Reading

“Minimalism is not a word in our vocabulary,” says interior designer, Nicholas Hollinshead. He gives full reign to his theatrical creativity in the 23 rooms and suites of the main house. There are under-heated walnut floors, sawn oak furniture designed by William Yeoward, the world-famous King’s Road designer, and soft furnishings upholstered in fabrics from Osborne and Little, Designer’s Guild, Cole and Son, Kenzo, Paul Smith and Nina Campbell. Even the rugs are from Diane von Furstenburg’s Rug Company. 

Three art works have been commissioned for each of the rooms and suites in the main house. A wrought-metal Claire Norrington animal sculpture, a Alain Bonnefoit “Painter of Venus” sensuous nude and an impressionist landscape by  Isabelle de Ganay. 

And how exciting is a visit to the Reading Room Bar? Where, in a Tom Cruise moment, the barman in white shirt, leather braces and tan chinos will shake you a Lunar Eclipse, a Fou d’Amour, a One Minute of Wisdom or any classic cocktail you care to name. Though given the proximity to Reading Gaol, where Oscar Wilde was once imprisoned and wrote his famous ballad, perhaps an Oscar’s Enigma – rum, maraschino, lime and grapefruit – is an appropriate choice. 

Executive chef Rajesh Maharjan brings contemporary classics to the menu

Listening to the saxophone-driven gentle jazz funk in the Reading Room Restaurant, with menu in hand, is paradise rediscovered. It is so long since guests have had the choices that Executive Chef Rajesh Maharjan’s menu presents. Will it be roasted butternut squash with a coconut foam or Orkney scallops with chorizo or duck and foie gras terrine or heritage beetroot or Cornish mackerel? This is a lavish gastronomic world we had almost forgotten. 

Maharjan’s precise colourful presentation, as balanced as the rooms themselves, approaches an art form. There are classics on the menu: salt-aged sirloin beef, pork Wellington, roasted cod and pan-fried sea bass. The aromatic spicy duo of lamb, rack and fillet, is served with oriental favourite bok choy and classic English minted peas. Though a subtle fenugreek source demonstrates how Maharjan uses his encyclopaedic knowledge of world flavours. 

River Thames at Reading
Enjoy miles of riverside walks along the Thames

Beyond the hotel, it is just a few minutes’ walk to the River Thames. Reading itself has seven miles of river frontage to meander along. Alternatively, you can cross the river and walk one of the most scenic sections of the Thames path to Sonning’s weeping willows and picturesque single-track bridge. For a full day’s walk Henley-on-Thames provides its regatta charm. 

Back at the Roseate this is the luxurious living we have all longed for, for so long. A return to fluffy white dressing gowns, Egyptian cotton thread bedding, rainfall showers, heady Blenheim Bouquet toiletries, a choice of Nespresso capsules, the Bang Olufsen sound system playing chill trax: weekends away, indulgent living.

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Discover The Reading Roseate here

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Last modified: May 25, 2021

Written by 11:59 am Around The UK, Travel

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