If you plan on visiting Reading, PA or the Berks County area, staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Reading, PA is a must! This stylish boutique hotel in the heart of Reading’s post-industrial downtown opened in 2016. Located at 701 Penn Street, it is situated directly across from the Santander Arena which offers visitors almost unlimited entertainment options such as concerts and Reading Royals hockey games. This adds to the array of fun, family-friendly things to do in Berks County. From the moment we arrived, I knew that we had stepped into a special place.
A little backstory first. I lived in the Reading area for nearly 10 years from 1992-2002. Wyomissing, PA to be exact. I attended Penn State Berks Campus and Reading Area Community College. It is, without a doubt, where I became a foodie. While not necessarily known as a fine dining destination, there is a proud food culture and strong food traditions in this “Americana” region of Pennsylvania. I’ll leave that for a future article, though. I will note that my passionate interest in food started at this very spot on the map. Before I moved to Philadelphia, I was a barista and server at the Cloud Nine Cafe in Wyomissing for nearly two years. Without that experience, I may not be the active food lover I am today. But let’s get back to the hotel…
The DoubleTree by Hilton in Reading, PA is truly a stunning property. Modern, yet charming. It has all of the essential amenities contemporary lodging should have, yet the warmth and friendliness of a smaller establishment. For example, upon check-in, they greet you with a fresh-baked chocolate chip walnut cookie!
Room accommodations are exquisite and truly do offer everything you could possibly need and more. They really considered what modern-day travelers require and deliver it. Guest rooms are no longer just places to sleep, but where people do business and relax. The rooms and suites are practical yet extremely comfortable. We don’t travel much, but when we do, we make sure that we’re untroubled and a bit pampered. We were really impressed by the upgraded luxury suite that was selected for us. If you want to spoil yourself, upgrade to this suite. I loved it so much I took a video to give you a tour! Warning: I’m a horrible tour guide, but you get the point.
Cheers American Bistro
It’s nice to see hotels really put a lot of thought and attention into their restaurants and that is exactly what DoubleTree by Hilton did at the Reading property. Cheers American Bistro is what hotel restaurants should aspire to be. As with the rest of the hotel, it is sophisticated yet cozy. The bar is an upbeat social hub while the separate dining room is for more formal dining.
The Bar at Cheers American Bistro
We spent some time at the bar before having our dinner. It offers several beers on tap (including local craft beers that rotate on a frequent basis), classic and signature cocktails, and respectable wine selections expertly curated by bartender extraordinaire Dan Hoch. On our visit, the bar got packed pretty quickly with thirsty patrons attending a concert across the street, but Dan kept up a lively pace and made sure everybody was taken care of.
As a cocktail aficionado, I always look for something new and different on a drink menu and the bar at Cheers did not disappoint. The Bonfire Punch is a tropical drink with flare; not only is this a great fruity rum drink, but Dan torched a chunk of pineapple to give it a dramatic caramelized flavor.
The Reading Mule is probably one of the best mules I’ve ever had. It features gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, and locally made ginger beer by Reading Soda Works. I’m not really a gin lover, but this drink made me one!
Hubby enjoyed the Bourbon Smash, which was their kicked-up take on an old-fashioned complete with a fancy bourbon ice ball that, when melting, made the drink into a fun bourbon slush! All drinks were quite splendid so if you go, definitely try the cocktails.
Dining at Cheers American Bistro
Hotel restaurants are almost obligated to offer the usual, best-selling American fare. I don’t fault them for this as they need to cater to a wide variety of guests from many different places that come through their doors. It’s the “something for everyone” approach. However, this is not always a bad thing! If you can pull off the classics, you’re okay in my book. If you find creative ways to elevate them, you’re more than okay in my book. That is what Certified Executive Chef Daniel L. Wooten is doing at Cheers American Bistro. To say that he isn’t just an ordinary chef is an understatement, he is certified and credentialed by the American Culinary Federation. You could say he is a chef with serious chops! But how does he fare? Let’s find out!
We opted for a few different appetizers and small plates to start our meal. Short Rib Gnocchi Poutine is a star at this restaurant. Expertly braised and ultra tender pulled short rib meat served over fluffy gnocchi “poutine-style” with a brown sauce and cheese. The only word to describe it is “WOW!” The Candied Bacon, or as we called it “life-changing bacon,” was also simply amazing and off the charts delicious. It’s how I adore bacon — chewy with smokey and sweet caramelized flavor. The Korean BBQ Duck Tacos were fantastic, too. We were off to a pretty impressive start.
We let the starters settle a bit before we ordered our main courses because those items alone could have been a meal! But we definitely wanted to try a couple large plates, too. The Horseradish Crusted Salmon was superb. While I’m not the biggest fan of horseradish, I appreciated that they were conservative in their use of it so it didn’t overpower the delicate, flaky salmon. The Aged Delmonico Steak was a generous cut. Cooked medium-rare with roasted onions and mushrooms in a rich demi-glace sauce, it’s enough to please any steak lover. Both large plates were served with a creamy risotto, steamed broccoli, and a garden salad was served on the side family-style. All very satisfying dishes that made it impossible to attempt dessert which I’m sure are all excellent. They affectionately call the sizes of these entrees “Berks County portions” — in other words, you get A LOT for the money. I neglected to note the cost of each dish, but they were all a great value. You’re going to leave satisfied and your wallet will thank you.
FYI — we also enjoyed a glass of wine each with our meals – red for him, white for me. I didn’t notice any local wines on the menu. But admittedly, I didn’t study it too closely. After such great food and fabulous drinks, we both slept great, especially on that king-sized bed! 🙂
Breakfast Included at The DoubleTree by Hilton!
As if the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Cheers American Bistro isn’t already awesome enough, they include complimentary breakfast — and I’m not talking continental breakfast either. It is a FULL breakfast buffet with both hot and cold options! A veritable cornucopia of breakfast favorites that you could desire — scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, an omelet station, hash browns, sausage, bacon, SCRAPPLE, pancakes, a waffle station, oatmeal and grits, cereals, granola and yogurt, various breakfast pastries and muffins, fresh fruit, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something. While you serve yourself at the buffet, they still have table service bringing you coffee and juices. So classy! Honestly, this spread is one of the finest, all-inclusive breakfasts we’ve ever enjoyed at a hotel.
What more can I say about this incredible hotel in Reading, PA? Oh, did I mention that they have an indoor pool? Free to use for all guests. They also have a fitness room should you feel the need to work off all of that yummy food and drink. Parking is also free for all guests in the attached parking garage. The lounge in the lobby offers a surprisingly inviting, living room-like area where you can peruse walls of books of varying topics. As book lovers, this was quite lovely. Hubby found a great cookbook that he browsed through while I was checking-in.
I could go on and on about all of the amazing amenities this hotel has to offer, but you can learn more by clicking here. It’s rather extensive and, like I said before, you will want for nothing! It’s truly a gem in the crown of the Queen City; we highly recommend staying here if you find yourself in the Reading/Berks County area. If you don’t believe me — check out these reviews on Facebook or the reviews on TripAdvisor. Yeah, it’s that great.
Reading, PA is approximately 65 miles northwest of Philadelphia. If you go, take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the Morgantown exit (176 N). It takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to get there, depending on how fast you drive and traffic conditions. It’s a city that is on the cusp, I believe. I think with vision and the right investments, it could become more of an attractive destination than it is today. Reading is an up-and-comer that you shouldn’t miss; an unrated, yet entirely worthwhile destination with much to draw the casual traveler or day tripper in.
Also, don’t forget to pop on over to the hip suburb of West Reading with its walkable downtown peppered with interesting shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, craft breweries, and is home to the outstanding Reading Public Museum. It really is yet another reason to visit this surprisingly enriching part of Berks County.
There are many other reasons to visit the Berks County area and Pennsylvania Americana region. Check out this website and guide for ideas. If you go, tell them Philly Grub sent ya!
All photos are by Marilyn Johnson and should not be used without permission.
*Special thanks to Dan Hoch of DoubleTree by Hilton Reading PA for arranging our visit. Our opinions are our own.
The Doyenne of Delicious in Philadelphia and South Jersey.