One for teh weekend: Bel and The Dragon at Blakes Lock, Gas Works Road, Reding

Where is it?

Alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal in Reading, the hotel opened four years ago on the site of an old biscuit factory. While you have to drive through a retail park to get there, once you arrive the concrete disappears and canalside life takes over, with ducks and geese gliding past and various craft passing by.

It’s only a 10-minute walk into the town centre, with all its shops and bars but, to be honest, the hotel garden is so tranquil you probably won’t want to go anywhere at all.

What’s it like?

The Reading bar and restaurant is one in a chain of six and has only recently opened its five bedrooms so that visitors can now extend their stay.

The rooms are still fresh and new and feel quite luxurious, despite the reasonable prices.

There’s a playful side to the decor, with bold colours and mismatched prints everywhere you turn.

Pictures of some of the UK’s favourite biscuits hang on the walls (the sight of a Tunnocks wafer is enough to give anyone the midnight munchies) and stacks of old Penguin and Ladybird books offer some quirky bedtime reading.

What do they have there?

Each room is fully equipped with a HD flat screen TV, telephone, alarm clock, a Roberts radio and hairdryer. There’s a fully stocked honesty bar outside the rooms, which is open 24/7, but best of all there’s complimentary Sipsmith Sloe Gin in room, alongside the mandatory tea and coffee.

Alongside the hotel is The Majestic Bel Riverboat, which provides space for private dining and events (there was a wedding on the Saturday we were there and it looked idyllic). Mooring can be provided for boats.

What’s the food like?

In a word, superb. The industrial-elegant restaurant is clearly popular with fashionable Reading folk, and it’s not hard to see why.

The chain’s head chef Ronnie Kimbugwe has created a menu that offers an innovative take on pub classics, with signature favourites like Devonshire mussels in a Scrumpy Jack cider and bacon broth, marinated spring lamb and rosemary, and a classic apple tarte tatin to share.

My starter of seared yellowfin tuna with pickled cucumber, mustard and wasabi was sensational (even if the wasabi was the most head-exploding I have ever eaten!), while the main course of roast suckling pig with spiced apple chutney has to be eaten to be believed... perfection.

Breakfast was quite something too. A ‘proper bacon sandwich’ for him and boiled eggs and soldiers for me, but with a twist that made it feel more like a treat than the breakfast of my childhood.

Ideal for?

... a quick one-nighter and celebratory meal that isn’t too far away. Great value for money.