When it comes to hotel stays, the little things are the big things.
You could spend millions of pounds developing a prime property in the middle of Manhattan and guests would walk down to breakfast talking about the chocolate that was left on their pillow.
It’s not about extravagance or expense, it’s about fresh smelling bathroom towels the size of bed sheets, quirky soaps and, in the case of the Bel and the Dragon, the now renowned complimentary digestifs.
When I first stayed at a Bel and The Dragon hotel at their Cookham location I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked passed a communal whisky decanter in the hallway and found a bottle of Sipsmith sloe gin stored in the room, but it’s the sort of country chic luxuries that make the hotel stand out.
And now Bel and The Dragon, which currently has six properties across the South East, have launched five debut bedrooms at their Reading site located on the picturesque Kennet and Avon Canal.
The new rooms comprise of one premium double bedroom, three doubles and one single room. Designed by Bel’s celebrated design partner, Harding and Reed the rooms are in keeping with their signature playful style where bold colours, fun prints and bright fabrics create an inviting place to stay.
Each room is fully equipped with a HD flat screen TV, telephone, alarm clock, a Roberts radio and hairdryer. Located outside the rooms is a fully stocked honesty bar which is open 24/7 and perks include, of course, complimentary Scotch whisky and Sipsmith Sloe Gin as well as mandatory tea and coffee.
No stay at Bel and The Dragon is complete without dining there, and group head chef Ronnie Kimbugwe works diligently to create a menu that offers an innovative take on pub classics serving dishes you can enjoy time and again.
Signature favourites include Devonshire mussels in a Scrumpy Jack cider and bacon broth, roasted suckling pig with crispy crackling and spiced apple chutney and classic apple tarte tatin for two to share.
Conscious of championing local suppliers, Ronnie’s menus are always mindful of what is in season and what’s sustainable, meaning Best of British is always top of the Bel and Dragon food agenda.
Great wine has always been central to Bel and the Dragon’s offering where some of the world’s best vintages sit comfortably alongside Bel’s award winning house wine, priced depending on how much you’ve drunk, not on how much you order!
Having opened four years ago, Bel and The Dragon Reading is housed within a refurbished biscuit factory which the canal runs alongside. Making best use of their waterside location, The Majestic Bel Riverboat is a witty extension to the Bel’s dining options and offers an ideal space for private dining and events including weddings, for which it is fully licensed. For those preferring to arrive by boat, mooring can be provided or alternatively if you fancy a cruise then The Majestic is available for private hire and is the ideal way to explore the Bel’s inviting food and wine.
Only a 20 minute train ride from London and the gateway to the South West, Reading has a lot to offer; a business centre, leisure destination and great base for endless country pursuits (walking, fishing, shooting to name a few) the rooms will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to this corner of the UK.