One of my favorite hobbies is reading, so when I was planning my first trip to London I knew I needed to set off in search of the best bookstores in London. But since it was a bit daunting to research London book shops I decided to bring to life the London Bookstore Tour from Cierra of londonblockbyblock. This gorgeous map doesn’t include specific directions, so I sat down with Google Maps and worked out a plan to visit twelve of the best bookstores in London. If you want to explore the best bookstores in London on your own, download my Google Map for easy exploring.
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John Sandoe Books
Founded in 1957, John Sandoe Books is in one of my favorite areas of London, Chelsea. Set just off Kings Road you can stop by to browse the books after a bit of shopping.
Founded in 1797, Hatchards is London’s oldest bookshop. The bookshop is located on one of the most famous streets in the world, Piccadilly. Additionally, Hatchards holds not one, not two, but three royal warrants, which you can see displayed above the entrance.
National Theatre Bookshop
Located on London’s South Bank, the National Theatre Bookshop offers an unrivaled selection of playtexts. There are also books and gifts related to the theatre.
Another one of my favorite areas of London is Covent Garden. Add in a bookshop filled with maps and travel inspiration and I’m in literary heaven. The bookshop might look like a typical shop when you enter, but when you descend the stairs into the basement you are greeted by maps upon maps upon maps.
A quite unique bookshop that actually does more business online than in the store. Founded in the 1990’s, Persephone Books only publishes reprints of books, and each book sold has a gray cover.
There are several Daunt locations throughout London with the Marylebone location being the original. The store originally opened in 1912 and claims to be the world’s first custom-built bookshop. And the design has paid off because you’ve likely seen images of Daunt Books on Instagram.
Blackwells began in a single room with the trade of rare and secondhand books. Now they have been trading books for more than a century and there are Blackwells located all over the UK. With an even greater selection available online for worldwide delivery, including thousands of rare books.
Word on the Water
Floating in the Regent’s Canal Towpath this is definitely one of the most unique bookshops I’ve ever visited. Step onboard this 1920’s Dutch barge near Granary Square in King’s Cross and explore the books of Word on the Water.
Although Owl Bookshop is now owned by Daunt Books, the store retained its original name. Owl Bookshop has a truly terrific children’s section and regular author talks. Walking into Owl Bookshop gives you all the warm feelings you want when you walk into a bookshop and encourages you to stay a while.
Primrose Hill Books
I highly recommend a visit to Primrose Hill when you’re visiting London for the stunning views of the London skyline. Then stop by the family owned and operated Primrose Hill Books located in a Victorian terrace. After visiting this lovely shop, be sure to also browse their online selection.
West End Lane Books
An independent bookshop which prides itself on making excellent literary recommendations. In their own words, “We’ve been selling books, recommending books and drooling over books since 1994,” and that is exactly the kind of literary haven I enjoy exploring. Add in the delightful children’s section and this has everything you want in an indie bookshop.
Books for Cooks
Notting Hill’s famous cookbook shop not only sells cookbooks but tests out the recipes in the in-store cafe. There are countless titles stored in every available space in the store plus mouthwatering aromas tempting you to taste the food and then buy the cookbook.
Here are a few of my favorite books about bookshops, one of my favorite settings for a book.
Nina is a literary matchmaker in Jenny Colgan’s Bookshop on the Corner and she sets out from London to build a new life.
Another Jenny Colgan suggestion, because you really can’t go wrong with one of her books, is Bookshop on the Shore.
Although it is set in Iowa, US and not in London, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is an excellent book about a bookshop.
If you’re planning to visit London during the holidays, here’s a look at my five favorite things to do in London at Christmas.