By: Andrea Jane Pearce
With so many exceptional bookshops in London there’s no excuse not to treat yourself—and your shelf— to a great read. We’ve compiled a list of the capital’s top destinations for the discerning bibliophile and even included our apartment recommendations so you’ll always be within easy reach of the next bestseller.
Want to step away from the digital world for an afternoon? Libreria Bookshop might be one of the best places in London to do exactly that.
Nestled in the heart of Spitalfields in a building designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano, Libreria encourages visitors to put away their phones and immerse themselves in their quest to find a new book. Rather than using a conventional layout, the books at Libreria have been arranged into unusual categories, from wanderlust to enchantment for the disenchanted, to ‘maximise serendipity’ and help you on your path of literary discovery.
Stay at: Fraser Residence Bishopsgate
65 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, E1 5JP | Website
REDISCOVER A FORGOTTEN CLASSIC
Do judge a book by its cover.
Founded by author Nicola Beauman, Persephone Books revives neglected, overlooked and forgotten novels by mid-twentieth century, female authors. Each member of the Persephone family has been carefully chosen to reflect Beauman’s tastes and is only dressed in Persephone’s signature grey jacket if it has been deemed a valuable addition to the collection. Many of the books contain insightful prefaces by acclaimed authors as well as beautiful floral prints which add to their already abundant charm.
Stay at: My Place, My Bloomsbury
59 Lamb’s Conduit Street, Holborn, WC1N 3NB | Website
LONDON REVIEW BOOKSHOP
TREAT YOUR TASTE-BUDS
A two-minute walk from the British Museum, this is the perfect place to unwind after a day of poring over artefacts and exploring exhibitions. Curl up with your new favourite book on one of the seats downstairs or head to the adjoining London Review Cake Shop for lunch if you’re feeling peckish. Choose from a selection of seasonal dishes or opt for an aromatic tea and slice of cake. Baked in-house, the cakes on offer are ever-changing so you’ll always have an excuse to stop by.
Stay at: Terrace Room, My Bloomsbury
14-16 Bury Place, Holborn, WC1A 2JL | Website
GET LOST AMONG THE SHELVES
Situated on Charing Cross Road and spread over five storeys, the Foyles flagship is one of London’s most recognisable literary landmarks.
True to its slogan—Welcome book lover, you are among friends—every detail of Foyles’ largest branch has been designed with bibliophiles in mind, from its extensive selection of titles to its large windows which fill the store with natural light. With over 200,000 items in stock you’re sure to find the riveting reading material you’ve been looking for, whether that’s the latest bestseller or a niche title that you’ve been trying to track down.
Stay at: Bartlett Suite, No.5 Maddox Street
107 Charing Cross Road, Soho, WC2H 0DT | Website
FIND A RARE SIGNED COPY
There are few places more alluring to book-loving Londoners than Cecil Court. The Victorian thoroughfare, often referred to as ‘Booksellers’ Row’, is home to speciality shops owned by booksellers with a penchant for buying in stellar stock, whether it’s 19th Century literature or first editions of modern classics. If the latter has piqued your interest, Goldsboro Books should be at the top of your book-hunting agenda.
Founded in 1999, Goldsboro is home to a well-curated selection of hardbacks that owners David Headley and Daniel Gedeon have judged to be high-quality, future collectibles. Their global reputation grew in 2013 when they were the only bookshop in the world to have signed copies of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith who was soon revealed to be acclaimed author of the Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling. With so many best sellers, new releases and rare items on their shelves, you’re unlikely to leave Goldsboro without a new treasure to add to your expanding library.
23-27 Cecil Court, Covent Garden, WC2N 4EZ | Website
STEP BACK IN TIME
To say that Hatchards is hard to miss would be an understatement. Situated next door to Fortnum & Mason, the shop’s curved bay windows, Union Flags and Royal Warrant can’t help but impress passers-by, bibliophiles or otherwise.
London’s oldest bookshop, Hatchards has been trading since 1797. There are plenty of allusions to the shop’s rich history inside, from old catalogues to a portrait of a man who we can only assume to be John Hatchard himself. Browse as many of the shop’s 100,000 titles as you can manage then sink into the sofa on the first floor overlooking Piccadilly and leaf through any potential purchases.
Stay at: The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences
187 Piccadilly, W1J 9LE | Website
PURSUE YOUR WANDERLUST
Are you already dreaming about your next holiday? Why not set sail for Daunt Books?
If you haven’t been to Marylebone’s famous bookshop before, you’ll have seen pictures of it online or in London travel guides. Occupying an attractive Edwardian building on one of London’s most fashionable high streets, the main attraction of Daunt Books is its long galleried main room complete with oak balconies and a beautiful arched window partly glazed with stained-glass. Books are arranged principally by country so you can spend the afternoon globetrotting to your heart’s content without leaving London’s zone one. Make sure to grab a signature Daunt Books tote bag on your way out and see how many others you spot while travelling around the capital.
84 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4QW | Website
JOHN SANDOE BOOKS
VISIT CHELSEA’S BEST-LOVED BOOKSHOP
Adored by locals and international visitors alike, John Sandoe Books is an independent bookshop just off the King’s Road that embodies the charm of 1950s Chelsea. The shop retains the original character of the three eighteenth century shops it occupies with its traditional façade and gorgeous window boxes whose flowers spill down from the first floor. Its impressive 30,000 titles take up every inch of the shop’s three floors, with only a few chairs and window seats spare for visitors to perch on and leaf through their new find. Don’t be shy about speaking to the staff; they’re experts in their field and will make intelligent and thoughtful recommendations based on your personal tastes.
Stay at: Cheval Phoenix House
10 Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, SW3 2SR | Website