There are two universities in Reading. The University of Reading is the main draw for students moving to the town, though there is also a campus linked to the University of West London.
University of Reading Well-renowned throughout the UK as one of the leading universities for research-intensive learning, the University of Reading also ranks as high as 205 in the latest QS World University Rankings for 2020. It was founded as an extension college for the University of Oxford over 150 years ago and has gone from strength to strength since receiving its Royal Charter in 1926 (it was the only university to do so between both world wars). Henley Business School became a key part of the university after a merger in 2008, adding another string to the bow of the university’s facilities and reputation.
The Best Places to Eat
Eating out is a great way to explore new cuisine and culture, to fuel you through a hard day of university, to spark conversation on a first date or to make new friends with your new flatmates at your Reading student accommodation. Reading is a large, vibrant town, with plenty going on in terms of food. We’ve put together some hints on places that you might like to try, but we assure you there is a lot more out there for your tastebuds to sample during your time studying in the city.
Cosmo (Friar Street)
This world-buffet restaurant has something for every type of taste. This makes it the perfect first stop on a culinary tour of Reading when you first arrive, and the best place to go with a big group of new friends. At COSMO, you can all buy exactly what you like, or why not try loads of different dishes if you haven’t been that adventurous in the past? Expect hot, fresh curries straight from the Indian street food kitchen, amazing pasta dishes, authentic thin crust pizza, the finest sushi, noodles, or sea food. The live cooking stations cook your food fresh in front of your eyes and make you salivate in anticipation.
Royal Tandoori (Duke Street)
If you are searching for authentic Indian food, fresh cooking and at a decent price, the Royal Tandoori is definitely one of the best spots in town. They have a wonderful set lunch price of £6.99 for two courses during the week, and it is also a fantastic place to order loads of smaller plates to share with friends from the delightful street food menu.
Café Madras (Whitley Street)
Another great place for those of you who love curry, Café Madras is a very simple café. It is just outside the town, about a mile away on Whitley Street, but it is worth the venture out from the town centre. What it offers is a simple premise – great, mildly spiced curry that is of the highest quality without breaking the bank. Expect the coconut flavours of South Indian cuisine, all around the fiver mark. You can also fill up on a selection of filled dosa that are all nicely priced under a fiver.
Sweeney & Todd (Castle Street)
You might find this one a little weird at first, because it is in fact, a pie shop. On top of selling amazing pies in the store, Sweeney & Todd is also a restaurant when you step beyond the counter. It’s a long room, filled with trinkets from decades past, with adverts for old music hall shows and branding from even further back. All the pies are made fresh on-site, using meat from the sister butcher business. Expect all the classic pies and sides, alongside great big roast dinners and ploughman’s lunches. Wash it all down with a pint of real ale from the bar. Life is full of simple pleasures.
Street Food Markets
Reading has an array of dazzling street food markets to keep you occupied. The Blue Collar Street Food can be found at Reading Market Place every Wednesday, serving everything from Georgian classics to spicy jerk chicken. Chow is on a Friday and is a large mix of fresh hot foot from all around the globe. Both are worth checking out.
Looking for a big night out when you move to Reading? Luckily for you, your new Reading student accommodation is in the perfect location to make the most of all the great nightlife for students around town.
Sakura (Gun Street)
Sakura is probably the biggest alternative club in Reading and is a popular destination for students looking for that indie fix. Skint Mondays and Rock both regularly feature guest DJs from such famous names as Kissy Sell Out and Josh Franceschi. The other thing that is great about Sakura is that it is really student friendly, with drinks offers such as cocktails for under £3, shooters for £1.50 and mixers for just £2.50.
Smash (Gun Street)
Smash has got it all. You can go there for some of the finest craft beer in town. Other people go there for the crispy artisan pizza with loads of great toppings. Some people go to Smash to watch live sports on the many big TV screens dotted around the bar. For others, it’s about coming to smash for the live music and DJ sets at the weekend and getting some dance on. What makes Smash really interesting though is that they have Olympic-sized ping pong tables and a cocktail menu that makes a nod to the great table sport (cocktails such as Fruit Bat and Ping Pong Twist are particular favourites).
Caffeine & Cocktails (Kings Walk)
Caffeine & Cocktails has managed to successfully straddle that line between a calm daytime joint and a great bar in the night. During the day you can go in for a hearty brunch or a cup of coffee to help you get through the day. At night, the focus shifts towards the cocktail menu, with a wide range of spirits and liqueurs used to make a fantastic cocktail menu. If you ask nicely, the bartenders will even concoct something special and brand-new just for you!
Milk Bar (Merchants Place)
Milk Bar is all about the rum. There are over 80 different rums to choose from behind the bar, including dark rums, white rum, spiced rum, rhum and cachaca. The bartenders are fantastic and friendly, helping you choose the right rum for your personal taste, and offering advice as to the correct mixers (if you want a mixer that is, some rums are best supped on without being tainted by a mixer). Some cocktails are only a fiver between 4pm and 7pm, Monday to Friday, so head on down after university as a great way to start a night out for cheap.
Q Club (Friar Street)
Q Club is one of the biggest nights out in Reading. Expect the best of RnB in the famous Room 2 and indie classics in the main room. Every week it hosts great student-friendly night and different themes, filling the dancefloor with chart tunes, cheesy pop and dance classics. It’s a great big party atmosphere with confetti explosions and indoor fireworks for no other reason than to celebrate the night out.
Sport Facilities and Teams
If you are looking to find a sports team to join with your new friends made at your student accommodation in Reading, train to become an elite athlete, find the right sport just for you to keep fit and healthy, or a spectator sport to watch in your spare time, there is plenty to see and do in Reading. With top-class sporting facilities, university sport and some great sports teams it is a great town to live in if you love sports.
At the University of Reading there are plenty of sports clubs and teams to join. It is the perfect place to make new friends, to stay fit and healthy, or even to compete at a higher level by competing against other universities and colleges in the BUCS league.
Formed in 1871, Reading Football Club has had plenty of success in recent times, with a couple of stints in the Premier League and some decent cup runs too. Reading actually holds the record for the most points gained in a single season for any European team (achieving 106 points during the Championship title-winning campaign of 2005/2006). The wonderfully modern Madejski Stadium holds 24,000 people when full and is a great place to start if you are into football and looking for an outlet to watch live sport every other weekend.
British American Football
British American Football has been around for some time and since returning to the BAFL in 2005, the Berkshire Renegades have had plenty of success, playing at The South Reading Leisure Centre. There is an amazing set up for the men’s senior team and an extensive junior set up too. If you are looking to watch, or even get involved on the playing or coaching side of things, there is scope for you to do so.
Reading Rockets are one of the most successful and popular basketball clubs in the entire country, winning every single game in 2008/2009 and winning all four national championships. The women’s team has also got a pedigree of success. Head on down to the Rivermead Leisure Complex to watch some live court action.
Palmer Park Stadium
Palmer Park Stadium can be found in the luscious parkland of Palmer Park. The stadium has some of the very best sporting facilities around for those looking to get fit and to become more experienced at certain sports, and especially for those people aiming to compete at an elite level. There are both indoor and outdoor leisure activities to take part in, as well as a fully functioning athletics stadium and velodrome.
Where To Shop
When you first move into your Reading student accommodation it is important that you get to know your surroundings as quickly as possible. You’ll find in a town the size of Reading that there is everything you could ever wish for in terms of shopping. Close to your new student apartment in Reading there are plenty of supermarkets and local shops to stock up and fill your cupboards with essentials. Alongside that there are some amazing shopping centres, independent stores and fashion boutiques and some incredible regular markets showcasing the best of local produce.
The Oracle and Broad Street Mall are the two big shopping centres in Reading. In both you’ll find everything you would expect from a big indoor shopping centre, including all the big brand, high street names and chain stores that you know and love (The Oracle is home to over 80 stores including Apple and Debenhams to name just two). Alongside the shopping you’ll find great food courts and fast food outlets to help you through the day.
With its close proximity to London, you’ve got access to some of the finest independent stores in the world quite close by on public transport. That’s not to say that there isn’t great independent stores and boutiques in Reading itself though. There are loads of great independent stores throughout the town, including quirky record stores, arts and crafts such as ‘But is it Art?’ selling quirky post cards and pieces of art, and Aldridge’s selling vintage luggage. There is a whole section of the town that thrives on art and culture, live music and other performance art, and they are linked to the independent spirit that can be found in the stores and boutiques throughout town.
One of the best ways to get to know a new town when you first move in is to go look at the local produce in the markets. Reading Market Place is home to a plethora of market stalls, all selling bits and bobs that emphasise local independent spirit. There is a regular farmer’s market, a vegan food market at Station Hill once a month, as well as the aforementioned street food markets from Blue Collar Street Food and CHOW. All of these are worth sampling early on in your time living in the town to get a real feel for the vibe of the town and to take some great local produce back to the cupboards at your Reading student apartment.
The events and attractions in Reading are pretty good, but you should also remember that you have one of the finest cities on the planet not far from your new digs at our Reading student accommodation. With London not far away on bus or train, many students will get to know the city during their time studying and living in Reading, but there is also much to do in the town itself. We’ve picked out a few of the highlights.
The oldest music festival in the world, Reading Festival started out as The National Jazz Festival back in 1961 but has since evolved into the massive annual party that it is today (it is so big that Leeds Festival was created to run alongside it with the same lineup playing on different days over the August Bank Holiday weekend in the two locations). For three days, some of the biggest music and comedy acts from around the world come to play at Reading over the 10 stages and tents. It’s one big party and you’d be daft not to get involved at some point during your time studying and living in the town.
Arts and Live Music
Reading also has an extensive scene for live music and art. The Reading Solidarity Centre plays host to plenty of live poetry readings and music nights, and the Department of Film, Theatre and Television at the University of Reading has teamed up with South Street Arts to build an exciting programme of performances and events. Sub89 and The Hexagon play host to touring bands and local artists throughout the year.
Reading Museum (Blagrave Street)
There is loads of great history to see at the Museum in town. Take a look at archaeology from Roman times, or take a look at the story behind the Victorian copy of the Bayeux Tapestry. There is a lot more to the history of Reading than you would first expect.
Reading Abbey Heritage Quarter
The Quarter can be found in the very heart of the town and has over 900 years of history behind it. It is here where you can stroll some beautiful gardens at Forbury, find the historic churches and end the day at the Abbey Ruins, which are the spectacular burial place of Kind Henry I.
The Museum of English Rural Life (Redlands Road)
Another great example of a museum in the town, The MERL is an extensive museum that focuses on aspects of historic rural life and agriculture. There is an astounding array of exhibits, bringing the past to life with archives and photographs alongside specific items.
The Mill at Sonning
The only dinner theatre that you’ll find anywhere in the entire country, The Mill is set on the River Thames in an absolutely stunning setting. It is an intimate theatre that seats 215 people in a semi-round to add to the intimacy of performances. Alongside the theatre experience is a restaurant that overlooks the river and has a spinning waterwheel in the bar area. It is an impressive place, where every ticket includes a two-course meal. Definitely a place to show off to the parents.