MatchBox shakes up Reading’s late-night scene

matchbox reading

Late-night bar and club MatchBox has opened in Reading with cocktails and a stylish interior by designers 44th Hill

The bars of Berlin, east London and New York City have provided inspiration for Reading town centre’s new late-night venue MatchBox. Offering cocktails in a cool “shabby yet chic” interior, it has been created in the former site of Bed Bar in Friar Street, with design by hospitality specialist 44th Hill, whose other projects include Café KaiZen, The Rum Kitchen and Central & Co in London.

The venue was stripped back and rebuilt over three months, creating a club with a lounge bar for after-work drinks and a dance floor for late-night partying. A large central area separates the two, decorated in a yellow and monochromatic colour scheme influenced by MatchBox’s branding. Black and white metro tiles throughout the venue create a chevron effect, again inspired by the branding.

The design is based on the concept of flooring being mimicked by materials on the walls and ceilings as a kind of mirror image. Reclaimed floorboards, old brickwork and raw concrete contrast with the bright shiny surfaces and clean lines of the tiles and steel of the central area.

The bespoke timber tables have tops decorated with a modern twist on patchwork marquetry, while the mix of old and new extends to the lighting, with 260 exposed lamps hanging from the ceiling and antique Parisian-style street lights in the seating areas. A two-metre neon sunburst encased in a steel mesh acts as a focal point and divider to the stairs that lead up to a large smoking area with a mural by graffiti artist Remi Rough.

Matchbox reading

Drinks have been developed under general manager Jack Wrigley who has worked in bars in Norwich, Chester and Reading, including the town centre’s Lola Lo and Mix Bar. “We have done a selection of contemporary and classic cocktails with a focus on service and delivery,” he explains. “We’ve kept things fairly simple for the cocktails but emphasised quality ingredients, fresh products and flavour.” Signature drinks include The Alchemist, which combines Stolichnaya Gala Applik apple vodka, apricot liqueur and calvados, shaken with peach nectar and pressed apple juice.

Cocktails are £7.50 to £8.50 alongside sharing drinks such as The Trunk, a mix of Luxardo Amaretto, cherry liqueur, cranberry juice and lemon juice, served in a small trunk. Tied to Greene King, the bar offers a range of draught and bottled beers, including craft brews.

Open till late Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it has different club nights throughout the week, with booths and VIP areas offering table service. Open from 10pm earlier in the week, it operates from 5pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Jack adds: “We want MatchBox to be an after-work hang-out for Reading’s young professionals which picks up pace into a premium nightclub, attracting clientele from Reading and the surrounding areas.”

5-6 Friar Street, Reading RG1 1DB
Tel: 0118 959 5278

matchbox drink

Behind the scenes
Design: 44th Hill
Main contractor: Maze Construction
Fixed seating: Fitz Impressions
Tables: Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling Project
Pendant lighting: Gravel Hill
Neon lighting: Fishtail Neon Studios

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