Reading Festival, riverside restaurants and revolutions – there are plenty of reasons to visit Reading, which is a mere 25 minutes from London by train. It also has plenty of pubs, as every historically significant town should have, including the newly refurbished The Three Guineas, which sits right by Reading train station.
Something of a landmark itself – make it your first point of call if arriving by train – the Grade II-listed building was designed by none other than Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was Brunel who surveyed the routes and designed the track, bridges, tunnels and buildings of The Great Western Railway, which became known as ‘God’s wonderful railway’ due to its success, while Brunel himself earned the nickname ‘The Little Giant’.
So, you see, The Three Guineas is kind of a big deal. Built in 1840, initially as the central railway ticket office, it was named following a competition, taking its title not from the winning entry, but from the value of the prize. In July 1904, a national competition was announced in The Railway Magazine to name the record-breaking locomotive that ran 245 miles from London to Plymouth non-stop. The competition prize was ‘Three Golden Guineas’. The locomotive itself was named The Riviera Express.
Today, the newly refurbished The Three Guineas is a tastefully put together pub and restaurant that offers up delicious all-day dining, kicking off with breakfasts served from 7am (early-bird London-bound commuters, take note). If you’re more of a hit-the-snooze-button-repeatedly type, you can also grab a quick coffee before catching your train, served straight to you on the platform.
For those who prefer to rise a little later, British classics with a fresh, modern twist are served for lunch and dinner. And as with any good pub, a sublime Sunday roast rounds off the week, and those looking to unwind over a drink can choose from no fewer than eight cask beers, as well as a great wine list and a vast collection of spirits.
There’s also the Firefly Room, an authentic and atmospheric vaulted cellar bar that has been stripped back to expose Isambard’s original brick-built arches. The bar serves up good gins, whiskies and craft beer collections and is available for private hire.
The Three Guineas also has a beautifully lit outdoor terrace with plenty of seating for larger groups as well as quint bistro tables for more intimate catch ups on a summer’s eve. It’s the perfect people-watching spot, where you can lose yourself in imagining the lives of those hurrying in and out of the station. If you haven’t read The Girl on the Train, take a copy with you…
Station Approach, Reading, Berkshire RG1 1LY; 0118 957 2743; three-guineas.co.uk