All this recent sunshine is making me want to go on holiday. Jetting off abroad feels like a distant memory having not left the UK in three years due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
However, this week I experienced a slice of the Med without leaving Berkshire. Thames Lido is a magical urban retreat in the centre of Reading.
I’d been to the town dozens of times, but not once had I stumbled across this little gem. The authentic tapas restaurant is located in a glass-walled space at a historical, renovated swimming pool.
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You don’t have to be a member to indulge in the patatas bravas and a chilled bottle of wine by the poolside, anyone can book a table and enjoy the holiday vibes. As well as great food and drink, non-members and members can also enjoy a relaxing swim in the 25m outdoor pool heated to around 26C.
Available every day of the week, non-members can pre-book a two-hour session (swim, sauna and hot tub) for £20 starting from 10am until 3pm. Members have access to the facilities from 6am to 10pm on weekdays and from 7am to 10pm at weekends.
Open all year round, guests can extend their stay by treating themselves to one of the luxurious treatments on offer including massages and facials. There are packages available should you want to combine a morning swim and a massage.
(Image: Laura Nightingale)
I visited the Grade II-listed Thames Lido with my husband for dinner this week. Neither of us were members or had ever heard of the place until a couple of weeks ago, but we are already looking forward to returning for a swim.
As darkness fell, we sat by the floor-to-ceiling window each with a glass of fabulous Spanish white wine in our hand watching the night-time swimmers. The pool was beautifully lit up and was sparkling in the moonlight.
It was the picture perfect location and reminded us of our last trip to Seville before lockdown. It was romantic, relaxing and unique. The food was just as impressive.
We ordered from the tapas menu, but there was also the main menu with various Mediterranean dishes. In traditional style, we ordered around eight mini dishes to share ranging from tortilla (£5), chicken thigh (£7.50) and lamb Merguez sausages (£8), to bread (£4.50), scallops (£4.25) and of course, patatas bravas (£5.50).
The plates were presented beautifully, the portions were a good size and each bite tasted exceptional. Everything was so authentic and brought back wonderful memories of our previous trips to Spain.
Each dish was marked gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian which was helpful and there was a bit of everything – meat, fish and vegetable options to choose from. My favourite had to be the Spanish tortilla. The thinly sliced potato omelette was soft, comforting and so moreish.
My husband on the other hand was bowled over by the juicy chicken which sat on a bed of fragrant piquillo pepper salsa. The staff were excellent, the atmosphere joyous and we honestly felt we were on holiday.
- To book your visit to the charming Berkshire gem, visit thameslido.com or call 01182 070 640. Address: Thames Lido, Napier Road, Reading, RG1 8FR.