The Jolly Anglers, 314-316 Kennet Side, Reading, RG1 3EA.
Sunday to Thursday: 12pm – 11pm, Friday & Saturday: 12pm – 11.30pm
We’re bloody OBSESSED with swimming pools in Reading, aren’t we? Knocking them down, building expensive ones, not building them, turning them into flats, eating next to fancy ones, putting weird liquids into them… We can’t get enough.
If there was going to be one ̶c̶i̶t̶y̶ town in this country to get a pub with its own swimming pool, it was always going to be us. And it is. That pub? Newtown’s established canalside drinkery The Jolly Anglers.
Is it the only pub in Britain with a swimming pool in its back garden? It may well be. I can’t find any mention of another one, at least. Not content with a waterside view out the front, the owners doubled up on their H2O vistas in 2020 as part of their ever-evolving garden improvements. Is it mad? Yeah, a bit. Is it brilliant? Yeah, a lot.
It’s got a swimming pool in its beer garden for Gawd’s sake!
The Anglers isn’t just a pub with a pool, though. It’s a cracking little boozer for all sorts of different reasons. The following is less a review of the place and more of a celebration. Vive L’Anglers!
A pint of Stone’s Bitter’s throw from the similarly aquatically-named Fisherman’s Cottage, The Jolly Anglers is right by the Kennet in East Reading. It’s Newtown way, a few minutes walk to Cemmy J. Across the water is The Bel & Dragon. It’s a pretty and charming little area populated by somewhat less pretty and charming residents (no offence, Newtown).
THE FUCKING SWIMMING POOL!
Let’s not mess about, eh? In fact, let’s ‘dive in’! Ho ho! The pool. The bloody pool…
First things first, it is a swimming pool, but it’s not A Swimming Pool. You’ll likely never swim in it. You’ll likely never see anyone swim in it. Was it built with council approval and within various Health & Safety guidelines? I couldn’t tell you. Can they legally have folk swim in there? Who knows! Our suspicion is that it’s available for ‘private hire’ only. We don’t know, we’re not solicitors.
Who cares? It’s hardly an Olympic size pool anyway, so it’s not there for budding Michael Phelpses or Ellie Simmondses. It’s also not there to ‘serve the community’ and host a load of old baggages for their weekly aqua aerobics classes. It’s there because it’s a bloody swimming pool. San Miguel tastes better drunk next to a swimming pool, that’s just science.
So you can’t just have a dip whenever you feel like it. Good. Who needs a load of drunk pillocks splashing chlorine into your lager top, anyway? Plus, y’know, getting into a pool pissed up isn’t sensible. Look what happened to Micha[REDACTED ON LEGAL ADVICE]
The Rest of the Outside
The pool takes up space, but there’s still more than enough seating about. It’s an incredible sun trap, so take your Hawaiian Tropic if the sun’s got his hat on. In fact, take a hat too.
The bar outside is extremely well-stocked for an outside bar, it’s not just one of those bottle shack things.
Oh, yeah. There’s also a sauna out there…
And a hot tub.
The Booze & Prices
Any readers familiar with this website will know that we’re not exactly CAMRA types or Real Ale Twats. Not only do we not really know much about booze, we barely pay attention to what pubs serve, either. Suffice to say that here – there’s probably most of what you’d want. It’s not a craft beer pub, so don’t get too sniffy with your pints, but you should find what you’re after. We’ve never had a bad beer in there. The Smirnoff draught cocktails outside go down a treat with the young ‘uns too, if that’s your bag.
Prices are what you might expect. If anything, they’re on the cheaper end of the Reading scale.
The menu’s fairly flexible and seems to change a bit. You might not spot a menu, especially outside – so best to ask. If you’re funny about your food and have to eat, maybe contact them on social media ahead of time and find out the culinary score. Don’t take our word for it, Jesus Christ.
Xemal Zaqiri is a Kosovan lower league footballer-turned-mechanic. His girlfriend Valentina, 12 years his junior, is a former model and television presenter from Romania. For some reason we’ve written that in the style of OK! magazine. So here’s a photograph that looks like it could’ve come right out of that very magazine…
Valentina is friendly and mostly handles the in-house shenanigans, while Xemal takes care of the outside. Always on his feet, hawk-eyed and perma-smoking, the man sees everything and misses nothing.
Sometimes, in this country, bars and pubs and restaurants have hundreds of thousands spent on them and set themselves up perfectly, only to be let down by a slight lack of enthusiasm and drive from the people that own them, run them and/or work in them. Not always, of course. Hospitality’s had its arse kicked of late and most folk are trying their best. But here there’s a genuine feeling of hard work and a drive to make things work for everyone.
During The Dark Days of Covid™, when the government were trying to kill the pub trade with their ceaselessly changing and utterly bullshit rules, it was easy to give up on going out. We nearly did. These two never broke those daft rules, but they made sure their place was still a welcoming (and safe, blah, blah, blah) place to have a right good drink up. If it were up to me… Immediate Pride of Reading Awards for the pair of ’em.
The Anglers isn’t the biggest pub going, but its light walls, unfussy décor and sensible table and chair set-up make the most of a fairly limited space. [Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen Gif]
Local comedian fella Rhodders runs his Stand and Deliver Comedy Club out of The Jolly Anglers. We saw Clinton Baptiste there last year, it was bloody great.
It’s a pub of two halves and so there are two different sets of lavs. The standard ones inside and the wooden shack things outside. The more flammable ones are much more fun. They’re nice and big and have an almost German Christmas market ambience to them. Except instead of a faint whiff of glühwein in the air, it’s a faint whiff of piss.
Oh, you’d better believe it. Sky and BT Sports all on nice big screens inside and a couple of GIANT fuck off tellies outside. 86″ bastards, they are. They’re beautiful, beautiful things.
There’s a bit of a mixture to the folk you get in. There might be a few old fellas at the bar and sat out the front, a few couples out back and some locals filling the gaps in between. Fair warning – this is slap bang in the slightly iffy Newtown area, so you do get a few rough ‘uns in. But it’s nowt to worry about. Plus, y’know, the landlord’s Kosovan and that.
Inside the pub, it’s a pub. One with a slightly continental European feel to it. Out front there’s a gentle and relaxed feel for anyone sat there overlooking the Kennet (well, gentle and relaxed when there are no blokes on bikes riding past yelling). In the back? It’s like being in the south of Spain. At least it is if you go in the nicer months of the year. Alright, so it’s maybe a shade more Benalmadena than Marbella, but bloody hell. It’s a treat.
C O N C L U S I O N
Given we’ve already said this thing is a celebration and not a review, you won’t be surprised to read the gist we’re getting at here is that we love the place. There’s a genuine feel of being on holiday when outside in The Anglers’ mad back garden. The pub itself is still a spot worth considering for winter too, with decent drinks, nice enough food and welcoming staff. But, really, it’s all about being out that back…
Not been? Get yourselves down there. C’mon, now. It’s got a fucking swimming pool FFS 🏊🏊🏊