10 waterside hangouts
Water, water everywhere and there's more than a drop to drink (thank god!). Watch the world float by at Muddy's fave waterside spots to eat and drink.
I’ve been to a gazillions of pubs and restaurants in Berkshire on Muddy duty and have drawn together this scratch list, admittedly half cut late in the evening, but hopefully with a degree of knowledge and insight. Yeah yeah, I’ve probably left some goodies off, and if you think there has been a libellous omission, genuinely please let me know. I hope these suggestions help you have a wonderful waterside weekend. Slap on the sunscreen and enjoy the view
Roux at Skindles, Maidenhead
It’s got Roux over the door and on the floor, but more importantly it’s got a stonking view of the River Thames and a couple of sunny terraces. Roux at Skindles is the place to be when the big yellow ball is in the sky. Enjoy drink and snack in upstairs on the cocktail bar balcony or grab one of the few table outside in the brasserie. If you’re not there early, you’ll have to wrestle table hoggers out of their prime location seats
The Little Angel, Henley on Thames
OK, so I’m slightly bending the H2O rules because The Little Angel is not next to water, but it is very near. It’s a favourite with rowers and regatta goers because of its proximity to the rowing club (alumni include Pinsent and Redgrave, no less). Dating back to the 1600s, The Little Angel is child and dog friendly, serving gastropub food so you get a cracking trial cooked chip and side order of Lyra-clad six pack. Take a stroll along the towpath, enjoy a boat trip down the Thames or watch the world float by. Add to your must try-list.
The Waterside Inn, Bray
The foodie enclave of Bray is not all about Heston Blumenthal. Long before he introduced the world to snail porridge, a French fancy was drawing a foodie crowd. Alain Roux’s The Waterside Inn has held three Michelin stars since 1985 and is blessed with a stonking riverside location. Loved by chefs, expect fine wines and French classics with a price tag to match. Go for the Menu Gatronomique (£63.50pp) unless someone else is picking up the bill.
Thames Lido, Reading
Yes, we have many beautiful riverside spots, but you cannot resist Reading’s hidden gem – the Thames Lido, with its restaurant nestled between the outdoor pool and the Thames. Fancy a bite to eat? There’s a Mediterranean vibe to the menu and when the sun shines, you could be anywhere in the world. Watch the swimmers pootle up and down or take a dip yourself. It’s what sunny days were made for. Absolute bliss.
Coppa Club, Swan at Streatley, Streatley
If Cher did hotels, it would be the Swan at Streatley. Now fully open after a £12m, four-year renovation with a brand new Coppa Club in Berkshire. Located right on the riverbank, the 380-cover restaurant and bar is the pretty perfect spot to relax and unwind. The interiors are pretty foxy in their own right, but what make this place special is the large riverside terrace enclosed by a glass structure provide stunning views across the Thames, and alfresco dining all year round. Keep your eyes peeled for tennis totty Tim Henman, he’s a regular.
Bel and The Dragon, Reading
A waterside retreat does not have to have that Wind In The Willows vibe. Enjoy the cool urban oasis of the Bel and the Dragon – a converted canal-side biscuit factory in Reading town centre. It’s a hidden gem with a trendy bar, a great place to eat out with kids and fur babies are welcome too. The building retains many its fabulous, original features – note the arched windows, the winches, and the old Forman’s office in the upstairs dining area – and it’s a relaxing spot to tuck into some good modern European food. On sunny days knock back your rosé on the stunning riverside terrace. There are planters filled with fragrant herbs, café-style tables and chairs and fire pits for when the temperatures dip. If you’re the boaty type, you can moor right outside. Don’t miss the opportunity to pop into the bijou Riverside Museum, currently exhibiting the work of art trio, Double Okay arts trio – a mixture of past film, print and performance work.
Coppa Club, Sonning
Since George Clooney moved to Sonning, you can’t keep me away from the place. No need for a restraining order, George, there’s a new love in my life – the Coppa Club. Cool interiors with pops of colour, cabanas in the summer, the Insta famous igloos in the winter and a garden that runs down to the river that’s perfect for R&R. The food is super family friendly, with plenty of choices for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. There’s a lovely towpath walk, The Mill theatre is just over the bridge and you’re within stalking, I mean waving, distance of George.
The Boatman, Windsor
Windsor’s only riverside pub, The Boatman is practically the Queen’s local and is a prime spot for people and boat watching. In the shadow of the castle and facing onto the Eton side of the Thames, it is idyllic when the sun shines. Grab table on the terrace and join Her Maj for an 11am G&T. Cheers Ma’am. If you’re in the mood for a bite, settle in for a menu of quality pub food with flair. A conservatory has a retractable roof, making the most of the waterside location without getting wet when it rains.
The Swan, Pangbourne
Literary lovers get thee to The Swan in Pangbourne and drink in the view that inspired Kenneth Grahame’s Wind In The Willows and the pub itself also features in Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat. A 17th century inn tucked up against the Thames, make a beeline for the small terrace and sit directly on the waterfront the view is to die for. Think tree-lined meadow, large and small boats (some even moor at the pub for lunch). The food is unpretentious but stylishly presented and a nice spot for a family lunch.
The Rowbarge, Woolhampton
As riverside pubs go, The Rowbarge in Woolhampton has one of the biggest gardens, perfect for energetic kids. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, a little of the beaten track and the food is good and reasonably priced. Kids are welcomed with opened arms, it has a superb section of wines and beers, plus 93 different gins. Slow down the pace, watch the canal boats make their way through the lock and drift down Kennet.