Last Updated on February 11, 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Between second-hand delights and independent publishers turned booksellers, the UK capital city has no shortage of bookstores that you’re guaranteed to love. So whether you’re in search of vintage tomes, romance novels, or new travel guides to spark your wanderlust, here’s your guide to the best of beautiful London bookshops which will steal your heart!
London Review Bookshop, 14-16 Bury Pl, Holborn, London WC1A 2JL
Of all the London bookshops that remain hidden gems, the London Review Bookshop is probably the worst-kept secret. Situated in central Bloomsbury (where you’ll soon discover a treasure trove of fantastic bookstores), the bookshop has been in situ since 2003.
Wander in today and you’ll soon discover plenty of fascinating and exciting titles- over 20,000 of them in total! And with its green façade and welcoming interior, you’ll want to step right in! Otherwise, you should know that the London bookshop hosts regular events such as author talks, book signings, and late-night shopping opportunities.
Daunt Books, 84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4QW
Specialising in travel and set against the backdrop of an Edwardian building, there’s little not to love when it comes to Daunt Books. Set over two floors and featuring historic and vintage architectural features such as oak-panelled bookshelves and a stained-glass ceiling skylight, you could easily lose yourself for hours perusing the shelves and igniting your wanderlust for far off places.
Persephone Books, 59 Lamb’s Conduit St, Holborn, London WC1N 3NB
A bookshop primarily dedicated to forgotten female publishers from the interwar period- we love it! Persephone books began as an independent publishing house but has since opened its horizons to open a bookstore in Bloomsbury, close to the British Museum. Even if you have only a day in London, you’ll want to make sure to check out the Bloomsbury district of the UK capital!
Otherwise, you should know that the books to be found here are out of print everywhere else and are largely by women from the interwar period. Persephone Books are particularly striking thanks to their blue-grey book jackets marked by a colourful end sheet that’s unique to each and every title.
Hatchards (the Oldest Bookshop in London), 187 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9LE
The oldest London bookshop, and indeed the oldest bookshop in the UK, can be found in the form of Hatchards, a five-storey bibliophile’s dream along Picadilly in central London. Opposite the Royal Academy and now owned by the Waterstone’s chain, this bookstore has a distinctive focus on British history, with plenty of books about Winston Churchill.
Step inside at any given moment, and though you won’t necessarily discover any bookstores that can’t be found anywhere else in London, you’ll soon fall in love with the 18th-century booksellers touches- wooden shelving stacked from floor to ceiling, as well as an impressive selection of signed and special editions located by the cash desks. Since 2014, Hatchards has operated from a second location in St Pancras International.
Word on the Water, London’s only ‘book barge’
The only boat barge bookshop in London is that of Word on the Water, a delightful floating ship on a canal close to Kings Cross train station. Open every day of the week and boasting a rather fascinating history (until recently, the boat was not granted a license and so was forced to move up and down the canals of London on a regular basis), this London bookshop is well worth checking out if you’re ever in the area.
Hurlingham Books, 91 Fulham High St, Fulham, London SW6 3JS
One of the best second-hand London bookshops is that of Hurlingham books, a stunning independent store in the Fulham district of London. Close to the River Thames, the windows of this beautiful bookstore are stacked from floor to ceiling full of books, with tomes spilling out onto the streets surrounding Hurlingham Books.
Of all the London travel tips I could give you, one of the best would be to make sure that you escape Zone One at least once during your visit. After all, although the most touristic parts of the city are well worth a visit, there’s much more to the UK capital city than simply Big Ben or the London Eye!
Skoob Books, 66 The Brunswick off, Marchmont St, London WC1N 1AE
Situated in the Bloomsbury district of London, an area that’s best known for being a student hub where several University campuses are now to be found and where, once upon a time, the Bloomsbury Group (otherwise known as the Bloomsbury Set) would have gathered, Skoob Books is located in the basement of the Brunswick Centre.
Popular among students, visitors, and local residents alike, Skoob Books offers second-hand books at a reasonable price (reasonable for central London, in any case!) Books are largely uncatalogued, though there are upwards of 50,000 titles to look through! I always head there when I’m looking for a unique gift or a title that seems to be out of stock, and even out of print, in other places!