The first time I experienced the Thames Lido in Reading I was a new mum with a four month old baby who cried a lot.
I’d been invited to meet friends there, but felt very self-conscious as I walked through the door with my pram into a fancy looking bar and restaurant. The bright and airy room looks out over the outdoor swimming pool and it feels like a secret little oasis away from the busy town centre of Reading.
However all of this just made me feel even more anxious about whether it really was the right place to take a baby. But, as they say, first impressions really do count and I was immediately greeted by a lovely member of staff who told me that the Thames Lido is a family-friendly venue, which instantly put me at ease.
For the first time in a long time, I felt myself relax fully as we enjoyed lunch and watched the swimmers doing laps of the pool.
The Thames Lido is a relatively new addition to the restaurant scene in Reading. It opened its doors in 2017 after three years of renovation, having previously been closed for more than 40 years. Despite this is has such a familiar feel about it, that after just one visit you feel very at home there.
It markets itself as “unpretentious dining with a strong Spanish and Mediterranean feel” and as well as the a la carte menu, it also offers tapas in the bar and a lunchtime and early evening set menu.
The next time we visited was to celebrate my parents 40th wedding anniversary. We opted for the set lunch menu, which changes daily and offers a choice of three starters, main courses and desserts for £12/16/20 for 1/2/3 courses. As though she was giving us a gift, our little adventurer was on her best behaviour and slept through the first two courses, giving us plenty of time to enjoy our food.
I opted for roasted Iberico ham and celeriac remoulade for starters, slow roasted pork belly with lentils, carrots and quince alioli for my main course and Picos blue cheese, walnuts and raisins for dessert. Each course was beautifully presented and perfectly portioned.
The staff were very attentive and the whole atmosphere was so relaxed. Time seems to slow down when you’re eating at the Thames Lido and there’s something quite mesmerising about watching people slowly swimming lengths outside.
Since that meal I’ve returned to Thames Lido again to make use of the spa, where I had an amazing hot stone massage. It was so nice and so rare for me to have a moment to myself. The treatment rooms are upstairs overlooking the pool, and you can hear the gentle lapping of water in the background. It was so lovely and relaxing and as I enjoyed some mint tea and a magazine in the relaxation room afterwards I could have easily fallen asleep!
I’m so pleased that Reading has a place as special as the Thames Lido to boast about and with it’s welcoming staff, delicious food and amazing treatments, I’ll definitely be back. Who knows, I might even get around to swimming in it one day!
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