Sure Hotel by Best Western – Reading

Sure Hotel by Best Western – Reading, 39 Christchurch Road, Reading, RG2 7AN.

Look at this. As our pal remarked at the time, ‘how lovely, it looks a bit like the Town Hall’.

Opening hours: Not entirely sure. We couldn’t find them online. Although we went in on a Saturday night and the bar was open until 11pm. Does that help?

Places to go out boozing when you’re bored of drinking at home, alone… Of course, there’s the pub. There are bars. And social clubs. Nightclubs if you’re young enough. There’s restaurants, sort of. Er… supermarkets? Has anyone ever tried doing their shopping with a few cans? So long as you keep the empties and have them scanned at the end (and don’t assault anyone), where’s the harm?

Anyway, we digest. There’s one more place most folk forget on this subject: HOTELS.

Hotels have bars. And they’re almost always open to the public. Of course, you’ve got your swanky London hotels with their £25 cocktails and £500 an hour escorts. Here, the closest you’ll come to quality is the quite decent Roseate Hotel at The Forbury. And maybe – at a push – the diminishing returns of Malmaison near the station.

Just because the hotel isn’t a five star effort though, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give their bar a go. For the novelty drinker there can be something genuinely thrilling about having a pint brewed from the seemingly forbidden fruit of the hotel bar. Even at B&Bs.

Okay, fine. Dismiss this as bollocks. But give one a go next time you stroll past. You might be surprised how much you enjoy the break from the norm while experiencing the familiar sights, sounds and smells of a cheap hotel. Reminding you of ropey holidays as a child or that work conference five years ago in Nuneaton where you slept with someone you shouldn’t have and are still fairly convinced that at least three women in Marketing know about it.

When you walk in you’re greeted by a personable member of staff on the reception desk. To gain entry to the bar you’ll need to say the magic password: “Can we just head into the bar please? Cheers.”

Location

To get to this ‘quaint lodging in an 1800s building’, you’ll need find yourself in the Wild Wild East of Reading. On Christchurch Road, just a few minutes down from the parade thing that has The Queen’s Head and Kung Fu Kitchen in. Accessible from town via Southampton St. and Whitley St. When you’re on Christchurch, it’s opposite The Abbey Junior School (which we trust won’t be an issue for the majority of you).

The Bar/Drinks

Here’s the rub. If you’re a snobby beer type or someone who can only drink chilled New Zealand blush rosé or artisanal batch gin with botanicals in, the budget hotel bar game ain’t for you. It’s all about appreciating a sensory adventure, you see. It’s experiential. In other words – expect there to be just one draught beer line. And for it not to be working.

Not that it bothered us, we’re flexible drinkers and polite, understanding customers. They had Newc-y Brown in the fridge, anyway. So no problem, pet.

“Little slow tonight, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. What will you be drinking, sir?”
Hair of the dog that bit me!”
“I’m afraid we’ve run out of that, sir. We have Newcastle Brown Ale?”
“You set ’em up, I’ll knock ’em back!”

The Ambulance of the Place

Saturday nights can get busy in town. When you hit a certain age, one of the prerequisites of a decent drinking venue of a weekend becomes ‘not too busy’. If you ever find that becoming your number one criterion, well, you don’t get a lot less busy than the bar in a budget hotel on the outskirts of a town.

Look at the lovely mid-90’s decor too. THERE’S A TWO TONE COLOUR SCHEME SPLIT BY A DADO RAIL FFS!

It’s also worth noting that those chairs were incredibly comfortable.

Don’t worry. All these Chris Tarrants got cabs home, none of them were driving.

Entertainment

Ordinarily we’d scoff at aimless terrestrial dirge slapped on the telly in a pub. But there’s something quite comforting about a TV softly humming away in the background in a hotel bar.

On Saturday night, when we were in, Michael McIntyre’s prime time BBC One game show The Wheel was on. If you don’t know what that is, it’s like The Wall with Danny Dyer, only on the floor, more spherical and presented by someone four socio-economic groups higher. If that doesn’t help, it’s like Wheel of Fortune, only instead of fortune, there’s Aston from JLS getting the capital of Romania wrong.

“Let’s go with ‘C’… Budapest.”

Toilets

Small, clean and hotely.

Even though I’m fairly convinced they’d either be nothing in it or just a few spare toilet rolls, I REALLY wish I’d checked to see what’s in that small cupboard underneath the sink.

Any Nice Stained Glass Windows Outside?

Absolutely!

Nice!

Punterwatch

There may be the odd hotel occupant floating in and out, but – if you’re lucky – it’ll just be you and the ghost of a bartender.

“I always liked you. You were always the best of them… Best goddamned bartender from Timbuktu to Portsmouth, Maidenhead… or Reading, Berkshire, for that matter.”

C O N C L U S I O N

You either see the slightly offbeat charm of having a couple of drinks in a budget hotel, or you don’t. If not, you’ll hardly consider East Reading’s Sure Hotel as a shining example of a bar. If you can understand the slightly odd appeal of these places, then the attractive building, its friendly staff, throwback decor and arse-pleasing seats make this is a hotel not to be overlooked.

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