London is a paradise for book lovers. The iconic city is home to everything from small, dusty independent booksellers to giant retail chains.
On a recent visit to the city, I set myself up around Covent Garden and Piccadilly to check out some of the capital’s best bookstores. Similarly to my Bookstore Tour of Barcelona post, I have included rough walking times between each place.
Charing Cross Road is a key destination for any bookworm’s itinerary in London. Roughly in the middle of Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road underground stations is Foyles’ flagship store. Set over five floors, its books sit on four miles of shelves.
It also has a café in case you need a break from all that browsing.
2-minute walk to…
(2) Quinto & Francis Edwards Bookshop
This delightfully crammed store is actually the combination of two shops: Quinto downstairs and Francis Edwards on the ground floor. The latter is ideal for presents as it stocks antique and collectible books, usually with a commensurate price tag.
A (very careful) walk down the old staircase takes you to the basement, where you can find a range of fiction and non-fiction secondhand books.
30-second walk to…
Another old bookshop full to the brim with old and new books, this shop is well worth adding to your itinerary. The bargain bins outside have books available for £1.
Inside is a treasure trove of books on any subject under the sun. It also stocks leather bindings for decoration.
2-minute walk to…
This much-loved bookstore is beautiful outside and inside. It specialises in travel books and maps, but its collection goes much beyond that. I got stuck on the nature and wildlife section and came away with two more books to add to those that I’d already bought at Quinto and Any Amount of Books!
There’s a small café at the back. If you buy something there, you’ll get a receipt with a code to use the toilet.
10-minute walk to…
The largest bookstore in Europe, Waterstones in Piccadilly has a whopping six floors. As you’d expect with so much space, it stocks books from all the main genres. The children’s books section is particularly special, with a fun circus theme.
Its café is small and quiet—a great place to catch up with a friend or just read through a recently purchased book!
2-minute walk to…
Of course, I couldn’t compile a bookstore tour itinerary without including Hatchards, London’s oldest bookshop. In business since 1797, these days it is owned by Waterstones, though it still has a quaint, independent feel.
Though it may feel small if you’ve just come out of Waterstones, this well-stocked bookstore has several floors itself.
25-minute walk to…
(7) Daunt Books
In Marylebone, this beautiful independent bookstore is well worth a visit. It’s not as close as the others on this list, but the 25-minute walk will take you through the lovely Mayfair and Marylebone areas. (If it’s not a nice day or you don’t fancy the walk, the Jubilee or Bakerloo lines will connect you to the nearby Baker Street Station.)
The books are organised according to country, which is an unusual but innovative layout.
These are just some of the many bookshops that await in London. If you have any other favourites in the city please let me know!
5 thoughts on “A Bookstore Tour of London”
Thanks for the tour. Of course, now all I want to do is get lost in the nearest bookstore! Lol
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Always a good weekend activity! =D
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Great list! It’s such a shame to see so many bookstores struggling with the current economic climate and popularity of online shopping. You can’t quite beat bookstores (and libraries!). Not a fan of places that use the recipe-for-a-door-code to use the toilet though.
I’m with you on that. I’d gotten into the habit of buying a lot of books online, and I’m trying to go back to buying from bookstores whenever possible now! Thanks for commenting =)