The city of Reading is the hub of the Thames Valley area, a key driver of the national economy and a
destination which has a significant historical involvement in the IT industry.
Once derided as a soulless commuter town, Reading is now a highly sought-after location, with close links to london and its international airports. It is the UK headquarters for Microsoft as well as other household names providing infrastructure services, consulting, e-commerce and computer hardware. The speed with which Reading has grown to embrace its business community gives the city an aura of energy and ambition, with modern spaces constantly being created and regenerated for the needs of businesses.
Name: The Town Hall Reading
Address: Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH
Tel: 0118 937 3400
Located in central Reading, the ornate Victorian architecture of the Town Hall makes for an elegant venue for doing business. There are six separate spaces, the largest of which is the Concert Hall, which includes full cinema projection and staging and can host up to 700 people in a theatre-style configuration. The Waterhouse Chamber contains a private bar, period fireplace and stained glass windows while the Silverthorne Room, Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen Rooms all overlook the Town Hall Square and come with full AV and technical equipment. Galleries at the Museum of Reading, housed within The Town Hall, are also available for hire and are ideal for receptions. The Hexagon Theatre (catering for up to 1,200) and South Street Arts Centre (up to 150) are available in conjunction with the Town Hall and have conference and banqueting facilities.
Name: Wokingham Waterside Centre
Address: Thames Valley Park Drive, Thames Valley Park,
Tel: 0118 926 8280
What makes this Thames-side venue quirky is not the design or theme, but its selection of team-building events, which include katakanuing (a double canoe), dragon boating, raft-building and land-based initiative games, all rounded off with a video review session. There is one main function room with views over the River Thames – accommodating up to 60 delegates theatre style – plus a breakout room for up to 12 people.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Name: Penta Hotel Reading
Address: Oxford Road, Reading, RG1 7RH
Tel: 0118 958 6222
Following a £9million renovation, the Penta Hotel Reading claims to be the newest hotel in the town and is located a ten-minute walk from Reading train station. Its conference offering consists of nine meeting spaces, holding between 15 and 220 delegates. All rooms have natural lighting and air conditioning. Conference
packages start at £39, which includes breakfast snacks with coffee and a light lunch. On-site accommodation consists of 206 contemporary bedrooms with wifi, monsoon rain showers and free in-room movies.
ON A SHOESTRING
Name: Shehnai Conferences
Address: 75 - 77, London Street Reading, RG1 4QA
Tel: 01189 576 666
This conference and events-specific venue caters for events for ten through to 1,000 people, with a half-day delegate rate starting at £20 per person. The Olympia Suite is the largest space, followed by the Jalsa Suite for up to 150 and the Nazara Suite for 80 delegates. Conference packages include the use of screens and flipcharts, plus car parking and free wifi. Projectors and state-of-the-art audiovisual technology is also available. There’s an extensive range of menus, with Indian cuisine a speciality.
Name: Regus Reading Thames Valley Park
Address: Thames Valley Park, Reading, RG6 1PT
Tel: 0800 756 2558
The Regus Centre is situated within a business park set amid an 80-acre nature reserve with a mile of frontage to the River Thames. It is a few minutes drive from the centre of Reading and has extensive onsite parking. There is 24-hour access to the business lounge, meeting rooms and break-out areas, with technical facilities including RegusNet high speed internet access and a videoconferencing studio. There’s also an onsite snack and coffee bar and a sandwich service. The 14 meeting rooms generally cater for groups of between six and 24 people, though the Canterbury room has capacity for up to 40 delegates in a theatre, boardroom, classroom or u-shape configuration, and the largest space, the Sonning theatre, can hold up to 100 delegates.
SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED
Name: ECC Reading
Address: Berkshire House, 252-256 Kings Road,
Reading, RG1 4HP
Tel: 0118 956 6660
The ECC Reading is located one mile from the city centre and a few minutes’ drive from the M4, and has a dedicated on-site team for organising events and meetings. Meeting areas are available by the day, halfday or even by the hour. There are just two spaces, both set up as boardrooms – the Windsor room takes eight delegates and the Eton room can accommodate ten. There’s internet access, secretarial support, and advance AV technology, as well as a selection of beverage and catering options. A VIP package includes a chauffeur transport service and the use of an executive office for the duration of the booking.
How to get there: The local airport for Reading is London Heathrow, which is a 25-minute drive along the M4. A half -hourly direct coach service between Heathrow and Reading Station called RailAir Link is also available. Gatwick Airport is about 75 minutes by road (M4/M25) and Southampton Airport is about an hour away. Reading is one of the busiest interchanges on the national rail network and has direct routes to almost every part of the UK.