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Hotel Highlights

  • Eye-catching decor by Nicolas Hollingshead
  • Private cinema with reel-to-reel screenings
  • Award-winning restaurant


Behind the doors of an attractive red-brick townhouse in Reading, The Forbury hotel revels in its slick and bold décor – rich colours (from pinks to silver) and patterns, creative tiling, commissioned modern art and the largest chandelier in the world. If you’re staying amid all this opulence environment, you can't miss taking a seat at the long pewter bar to enjoy the impressive selection of fine whiskies, fine wines and excellent cocktails.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Forbury with us:

Late check-out (12 noon; usually £30). GoldSmiths get afternoon tea on arrival, including scones with Forbury preserve and clotted cream, and cakes

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at The Forbury

'Romantic getaway'


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The Forbury Hotel - Reading - United Kingdom

Need To Know


23, including four Luxury Rooms, four suites and a Grand Suite.


11am but flexible when possible. Earliest check-in, 3pm.


Double rooms from $152.77 (£95), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates usually exclude breakfast (£12 for Continental; £17 for full English).

At the hotel

Bang & Olufsen audiovisual, free wireless broadband, custom-woven satin sheets, 30-seat cinema, library and Moroccan-inspired Secret Garden.

Our favourite rooms

The fabrics throughout are beautiful, from Nina Campbell, Designers Guild, Kenzo and so on; floors are American walnut. There are at least three specially commissioned artworks in each room. All the bathrooms have stone floor and walls, six-inch monsoon showers and baths big enough for two. Luxury rooms are particularly spacious, and the suites all have something really special about them: a glass bath, a steam room, a copper bath in front of the fire…

Packing tips

Walking boots and binoculars for Thames Valley twitching.


No pets, but guide dogs are welcome. There are 16 serviced apartments available for short lets.


Crib available at no charge; extra beds for older children are £30 a night. Children's menu in the restaurant.

Food & Drink

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The Forbury Hotel - Reading - United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

Cerise serves up moreish Mediterranean cuisine, with dishes such as salmon with peas and saffron sauce and wild mushroom and butternut squash risotto.

Hotel Bar

Cerise has a long pewter bar where you can sample fine wines, malt whiskies, cognacs and cocktails – try a chilli and cucumber martini or the signature Forbury: a blend of amaretto, apricot brandy, apple juice and lemon.

Last orders

Lunch, 3pm; dinner, 10pm, except for Fridays and Saturdays, when last orders are 10.30pm.

Room service

24 hours.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Cool and casual.

Top table

The Secret Garden, weather permitting.

Local Guide

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The Forbury Hotel - Reading - United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

The Fat Duck in Bray near Maidenhead (+44 (0)1628 580 333) is Heston Blumenthal's famous Michelin-starred restaurant, lauded for its innovative, molecular cooking. A reservation is essential. L'ortolan on Church Lane in Shinfield (+44 (0)1189 888 500) serves perfectly executed classic French cuisine and has a very tempting vegetarian menu. The Vanilla Pod in West Street, Marlow (+44 (0)1628 898 101) prepares modern English dishes with a French influence. The Hinds Head in Bray (+44 (0)1628 626 151) is another Heston Blumenthal establishment superb producing country classics; its potted shrimps are the stuff of legend.

Local bars

The Bull and Butcher in Turville near Henley-on-Thames (+44 (0)1491 638 283) is a wonderful country pub, full of character and charm – perfect for Sunday lunch.

+ Enlarge
Grand civic redbrick

The Forbury

26 The Forbury, Reading, Berkshire RG1 3EJ, United Kingdom


The nearest airport is London Heathrow – it should take just under an hour to get from here in a car.


The nearest train station is Reading, which is speedily linked to London, Oxford and the West Country. The hotel is only a minute away from the station.


From the M4, you can pick up the A329 to get you to Reading. There's valet parking.


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The Forbury Hotel - Reading - United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Scott Manson , Rock-star writer

Right, let’s get all the gags out of the way first shall we? Because, believe me, Mrs Smith cracked every one humanly possible on the way to our weekend lovenest in Reading. Yes, Reading. The place where they sent Oscar Wilde to punish him. Part of the soulless Berkshire commuter belt off the busy M4 corridor. The town whose motto could be ‘At least it’s not Slough’. I hear…
Read more

The Forbury

Anonymous review by Scott Manson, Rock-star writer

Right, let’s get all the gags out of the way first shall we? Because, believe me, Mrs Smith cracked every one humanly possible on the way to our weekend lovenest in Reading. Yes, Reading. The place where they sent Oscar Wilde to punish him. Part of the soulless Berkshire commuter belt off the busy M4 corridor. The town whose motto could be ‘At least it’s not Slough’. I heard all of this, and more, on our drive from London (‘Look, darling, it’s only an hour door to door!’), my partner’s face clearly registering her dismay at being whisked away under the auspices of a sexy, fun weekend in a new boutique hotel, only to find out that it wasn’t to the stately country pile she’d imagined. ‘You,’ she said with a giggle, ‘put the berk in Berkshire.’ Excellent.

I could feel the ice thawing though, and the sarcasm slipping away, as we pulled up to the Forbury’s suitably grand entrance. A former government building, this smart townhouse hotel sits prettily in a quiet corner of the town centre, overlooking leafy Forbury Gardens. For me, the first tick in the box went to the doorman who doubled as a valet parker. Although ours was undoubtedly the worst car he’d had to park that day and possibly, I’d venture, ever, he took the keys without even the slightest Roger Moore eyebrow raise and drove our banger off to the hotel’s carpark.

For the Mrs, the box ticking started with the sexy, and colourful, reception area. Swirls of pinks, reds, burnt orange and silver create a slick European-style ambience; commissioned contemporary art on the walls and, I’m convinced, the world’s biggest chandelier, all add up to a design hotel with a decadent, playful air. Before going to the room, we popped our heads into the library, a handsome oak-panelled room with a centrepiece fireplace and a quirky selection of reading material, running from Tolstoy to Playboy (the ten-year anniversary hardback of the latter, to be fair, not a few ragged copies that looked as though they’d been left under a hedge by some schoolboys). Just past that was the cinema, with its plush leather seats and waitress service where, said our concierge, a Sunday night arthouse film club takes place.

Our suite, one of 24 rooms, had the Mrs cooing with delight from the moment we entered. With Reading FC now in the Premier League, this is the sort of bedroom where high-profile WAGs would be happy to kick off their Manolos and spend the afternoon preening, awaiting the return of their footballing fellas. The bed is vast and dressed in fine Egyptian cotton sheets and fat pillows, while the two bathrooms offer a double rainfall shower or a deep clawfoot bath respectively. We spent an amusing ten minutes figuring out how the former worked, comprising as it did side jets, overhead shower and temperature controls. A word to the wise: ask the chap who shows you to your room to demonstrate, since these controls can be a Gordian knot to the uninitiated, particularly after a couple of glasses of champagne.

A gift bag of smelly stuff, slippers and, a neat addition, a sweatband with a pocket to keep your key in (should the urge to go for a jog take you), added to the welcoming feeling. This was definitely a place where the details had been overseen by a luxury expert. A Bang & Olufsen DVD and stereo, Molton Brown toiletries and great DVDs and CDs left in the room for you – a lovely trusting touch. At last, a hotel has realised that, at £300 a night, you’re hardly likely to be filching £10 DVDs.

Dinner that night was in Cerise, a chic, sexy space in the hotel’s basement. We were given the option of cocktails in the bar but, having studied the menu in our room, we felt Pavlovian urges drive us straight towards the table. Starters of seared scallops and oak smoked salmon kicked us off, before we moved on to a velvety slow-cooked pork belly and roast cod with foie gras, a curious mix of fish and fowl which combined zingy freshness with rich luxuriance. After a shared dessert of blackberry and apple crumble we decided to go raving all night at the MegaBanging OffyerFace night in the city centre. Just kidding. In fact, we waddled back to our room, flopped on the bed and, in a fit of gluttony, ordered our in-room breakfast for the next day.

Given our foodie blow-out, the lack of a gym at the hotel was a bit of a blow, but the helpful staff were full of suggestions about ways to shake off our post-breakfast torpor. Half an hour’s drive away is part of the Chiltern Way – a well waymarked walking trail that takes you through some of the prettiest villages in England. We ended up in Turville, the village where they film The Vicar of Dibley and, I’d imagine, a few other shows that require a pretty English hamlet complete with ancient church and green, rolling hills. If you visit, go for lunch at its only pub, The Bull and Butcher, where a classic ploughman’s will set you back a mere £7.

Of course, there’s only so much fresh air a woman can take of a weekend, before the need to shop comes over her. With that in mind, we drove further north to Bicester retail village near Oxford, a designer discount mall designed as a small town, where Mrs Smith wandered around fingering garments that I knew she would never buy. Generally, it means hours and hours of making some sap in a shiny suit fetch endless boxes of more or less identical footwear before deciding that they’re not quite right, so I decamped to the village’s branch of Carluccio’s to read the paper. It’s a measure of the depth of our relationship that both of us were blissfully happy with this situation. The Forbury is the sort of hotel that instils this sort of happiness, too. A natural, hospitality-based mood enhancer, which makes everything seem lovely. Even Reading.

The Guestbook

Reviews of The Forbury from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…


Stayed on

We loved

This is a beautiful hotel with amazing bathrooms and lovely staff.

Don’t expect

There's no air conditioning as it is a listed building.

Rating: 9/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

I liked the décor, service, room and food, which were excellent. Everything was excellent.

Don’t expect

When we arrived a wedding appeared to have taken over the whole ground floor, with kids playing on the piano, which was not a great first impression (so when we came back later most of the guest had gone, so it was fine). We didn't realise that there was a charge for parking; I explained this to the lady at reception and she kindly took it off the bill.

Rating: 9/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

The room was sublime; we had a wonderful relaxing stay. The staff and service were exactly what one would expect from a five-star hotel.

Don’t expect

The pillows are too soft for me.

Rating: 10/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

All of the staff I encountered were extremely helpful and pleasant. The hotel itself is very nicely presented with interesting art work and furnishings. The food I ate there was good. At short notice they kindly accommodated an impromptu reception for a group of about 20 people following a conference session I had organised. We recommend the house champagne.

Rating: 10/10 stars