ESCAPE LONDON – Reading’s hidden waterside gem, the Bel and Dragon

The Bel and Dragon sounds like a pub, but it is a stunning bar and restaurant with an adjacent floating private restaurant that is perfect for weddings, and a beautiful cobbled outside dining area. The building used to be a biscuit factory, which left it with very high ceilings and plenty of glamour. This lovely hidden gem is right on the water and a just over an hour driving from central London or even quicker by train.


Their Reading restaurant and bar has recently launched 5 bedrooms, bringing it more in line with group’s country inns, and have been beautifully designed and well thought out.  With thick spongy carpet to walk on, a beautifully designed bathroom with fluffy towels, plenty of toiletries, a big comfortable bed to sleep in, a homely feel and even some slow gin to sip on!


Designed by Harding and Read, the signature Bel and The Dragon playfulness is ever present with bold colours, fun prints and bright fabrics creating an inviting place to stay. The restaurant design is a feast for the eyes, with flower shaped stained glass adorning each end of the wall. The lovely booths have been adorned with cushions to give it that homely feel, adding home comforts to the vast and stunning room.


The staff and management are very friendly and helpful, making us feel welcome from the moment we are arrived and they are very family friendly. The bedroom even had a little arm chair that was low enough to the ground for my little one to happily crawl in and out of.  They helped me carry my pushchair and cot up to the bedroom, provided crayons and paper for him to draw with and took the time to make him giggle more than once.

The food was designed by the head chef Ronnie Kimbugwe and the presentation is simply excellent. They have a fantastic wine menu, perfect for any wine connoisseur and a good selections of champagnes if you are looking to celebrate or just fancy a treat.  At their well stocked bar they also provide a wonderful selection of reasonably priced cocktails if you fancy a tipple or two. The selection of food suits any diet, with fresh fish and our favourite the prawn cocktail. The breakfast is totally divine and they even have a gluten free option!


This stunning place oozes romance being directly by the pretty canal, but being so family friendly is it the perfect place for a family trip too. The waterside views are the icing on the cake for this pretty venue, with excellent service, great food and is a place perfect to create beautiful memories.

Heart London Magazine 5 star review

Service 5

Rooms 5

Decor 5

Food 5

Atmosphere 5

Bel and Dragon, Blakes Lock, Gas Works Road, Reading RG1 3EQ, Phone0118 951 5790