London: that vast and and sprawling metropolis. With so much to do and so much to see, it can be a daunting prospect, for the uninitiated, to venture the streets in search of what you seek. But never fear! We have the list of top 10 best London bookshops to make any book worm’s travels as straightforward as possible.
1. Hatchards in Piccadilly
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This gorgeous split-level book shop has many nooks to hide away a book lover for an afternoon of contemplative reading. The atmospheric quality of this shop is due to it being the oldest bookshop in London, established in 1797, and retaining much of its original charm.
2. Daunt books in Marylebone
This Edwardian bookshop is located directly on Marylebone High Street and boasts the most gorgeous book set up. Tomes are displayed cover facing forward and are segregated by country. This is the place to visit before your trip abroad, as you can find travel guides, books set in your desired country, and books from authors of that country’s origin all placed alongside each other.
3. Foyles in Charing Cross
This is the chain’s flagship branch and houses more than 200,000 international book titles on its seven floors. As well as being home to the UK’s largest range of books, this also has a cafe, auditorium and gallery where musical and literary events are held.
4. Persephone Books in Central London
This shop houses titles from overlooked female authors from the 20th century, making its bookshelf occupants perhaps a little different from the more mainstream book stores. A definite place to explore and expand your own shelves!
5. Waterstones in Piccadilly
This is Europe’s largest book shop and each of its 13 floors has something exciting for you to uncover. Whether it is the top floor bar, or the sprawling young adult section, or one of the many book signing and celebrity meet-and-greets it hosts; there is plenty here to occupy any book lover for the day.
6. Peter Harrington Rare Books in Mayfair
My tips for growing your Instagram engagement is now live on the blog. Have a read and let me know what you'll try and what you do already! Featuring the shelves inside Peter Harrington Rare Books in Mayfair who sell first editions of many titles. Each signed Harry Potter is £2000! ~ How's your Saturday going?
This leading rare book firm boasts “a stock of fine books from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries in a broad range of subjects”. Perfect for your more special or unusual shelf additions.
7. Stanfords in Covent Garden
Combine book browsing with wanderlust wonderment. This store houses the world’s largest collection of travel maps, guides, and books and is the perfect pre-trip visit. Past famous visitors have included Captain Scott, Florence Nightingale and Sir Ranulph Fiennes and it is so iconic it even gets a mention in Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’!
8. London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury
I love how almost every time we've stepped out in #London, we've chanced upon a delightful new #bookstore, be it a huge chain store or a tiny used books shop. Today's serendipitous finds included the lovely "London Review Bookshop" and "Bookmarks". #londonreviewbookshop #bookmarks #bookstorecrawl #bookstagram #instabookshop #instabooks #booklover #bookloverssociety #bibliophile #bookworm #igreads #lrbbookshop
In this shop’s own words, this is designed to be “‘intelligent without being pompous; engaged without being partisan.” An eclectic mix of books crowds its shelves, with the aim of mirroring the current literary climate. The cakes are very good, too!
9. Gay’s The Word in Bloomsbury
This is, sadly, the only surviving LGBTQIA+ book store in the UK. It stocks a large and varied range of fiction as well as non-fiction discoursing on queer theory, sex, and relationships. This is far more than a mere book shop, however, and also acts as a hub for the gay community, providing scheduled discussions and open nights.
10. Southbank Book Market
I realise this isn’t technically a shop, but its worth an inclusion due to the hundreds of antique and second-hand books there to discover. This is open to the public, regardless of the weather, and is housed underneath Waterloo Bridge on Queen’s Walk. How surreal!
And if you’re hungry after all that book browsing, see our list of of the top 10 best pizza places the city of London has to offer.