The Roseate Hotel
in Reading opened in 2015 inside an impressive brick building that had been
constructed 100 years previously as the Shire Hall for Berkshire County
Council, a place in which the county could conduct its business. Next door
stood – and still stands - the County Court. The two buildings are so closely
aligned that GM Vicky Punchaye jokes that if he drilled through his Eden
function room (built as a council chamber in 1911) he would literally be in
Today this listed
building is full of wide hallways, vaulted ceilings and dramatic new cornices.
It’s also lined with lots of art, from Impressionist oil landscapes by Isabelle
de Ganay to sketchy nudes by Alain Bonnefoit. Carpets are by designers
from the Rug Company using the Roseate’s symbol of a rose which here is
rendered in pink & dark maroon (the colours purple, pink and silver
dominate the hotel’s décor).
Much of the old
Shire Hall has been retained, including its original metal lift shaft that runs
the full height of the building. This has now been glassed in for safety’s sake
and augmented by a striking Italian chandelier that is made up of 86,000
individual glass beads cascading alongside the lift shaft.
Many of the
bedrooms are stunning, with bronze busts of horses, elephants and tigers - and
even the odd full-length hare - by prolific British sculptor Claire Norrington.
An unusual touch is that some of the bedrooms even have hand-painted walls. The
Roseate in Reading is committed to art and often hosts exhibitions of recent
painting and sculpture.
hotel’s basement restaurant is known as “The Reading Room”, punning on the name
of the city and on the small book-lined bar nearby. In Executive Chef Rajesh
Maharjan the hotel has a real star. His menu kicks off with oysters and caviar
and for pescatarians there are seared Orkney scallops and pan-fried sea bass,
while meat-eaters will enjoy the duck terrine and the salt-aged sirloin with
There is also a
Whisky Room with an excellent selection of single malts – mainly Scots but also
Japanese. Outside the Reading/Reading Room is a small outdoor dining area
shrouded by trees that is known as The Secret Garden.
The hotel even has
its own 30-seater cinema, a room on the ground floor not far from reception
that looks like an upmarket Soho screening room. Bring along your favourite DVD
and ask if the cinema is busy tonight.
the Roseate are the ruins of Reading’s Priory (dissolved in 1538) which are
romantic and fascinating. Beyond them rise the watchtowers of Reading Gaol
where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned. A recent addition to this notorious prison is
a Banksy mural that shows an escapee shinning down the outside on a rope of
sheets at the end of which is tied a typewriter.
disadvantage of this hotel is finding it if you’re arriving by car. The car
park at the rear of the hotel has its own – completely different - postcode. If
you drive directly to front of the Roseate it will take you a further ten
minutes on Reading’s fast-moving ring road to get to the back of the hotel and
the car park. It sounds like a joke but it really isn’t. Programme to arrive at
the back of the hotel and enter through the Secret Garden into the Reading Room
Restaurant and then take the lift up to reception.
Still, this is a
lovely place to rest up if you’re shopping in Reading this winter – or if you
just want to walk around some abbey ruins in the mist.