The Unlikely Bookworm

Literary London: the Capital’s Best Bookshops

Persephone Books

One thing London isn’t short of is brilliant bookshops. And so, in honour of Bookshop Day, an initiative organised by Books are My Bag, here are some of my very favourite literary hotspots in London. From Bloomsbury’s best-dressed window to a hidden haven on a cobbled street off Charing Cross Road and beyond, here you’ll find some of London’s best bookshops.

Persephone Books

Fusing charm and elegance in abundance is Lamb Conduit Street’s destination bookstore, Persephone Books. Both a publisher and bookseller of neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers, the shop is famous for its Instagrammable interiors – with fresh flowers and their signature grey covers featuring on many-a-social share. Best for: lesser known books that no-one else is reading.

Hatchards

The oldest bookseller in the UK, this London bookshop is an integral part of the city’s heritage. Located on Piccadilly, just a stone’s throw from The Ritz and next door to Fortnum & Mason, Hatchard’s is a beautiful five storey book shop that has a wonderful selection of hardback tomes and frequently hosts book signings. Its moss green exterior, curved bay windows and wooden frames are positively Dickensian, while the interior is equally grand. Visit the fifth floor for an impressive selection of second hand books.

Daunts Books

Daunt Books

An original Edwardian bookshop with long galleries and graceful skylights situated on Marylebone High Street, this London bookshop is a must visit for all bookworms. Known for its extensive travel collection, Daunt Books also stocks a multitude of literary fiction, biographies and more. With oak balconies, green walls and stained glass windows, it truly is literary London at its very best.

Goldsboro Books

Goldsboro Books

Nestled down a quiet court in central London that’s said to have inspired Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, and flanked by charming Victorian shop-frontages, you’ll find the beautiful Goldsboro Books.  A charming bookshop specialising in first and signed editions, this London bookshop is the perfect place to find a literary treat for the book lover in your life.

Waterstones

With branches in every corner of London and beyond, Waterstones have made a name for themselves for their wonderful hand-written staff recommendations as well as some of the best stocked shelves in London. The Piccadilly branch spans six floors, boasts eight miles of shelves, two coffee shops and is said to be the biggest bookshop in Europe. If you’re an avid reader with an afternoon to while away, few places will better suffice.

The Book Barge

While strictly no longer a London bookshop given that The Book Barge is now based in France, The Book Barge deserves a mention for its originality alone. The barge on which The Bookshop that Floated Away was based, it opened in 2009 as an independent bookshop operating from a 60′ cruiser stern narrowboat, and now specialises in curating and housing very small collections of books, which are made to order or assembled by whim.

Heywood Hill

Heywood Hill

Sellers of old, new and Antiquarian books for almost a century, this London bookshop is one of the capital’s best-loved. Based in the chandeliered sitting room of a town house, Heywood Hill caters for customers looking for books that might not make have the best-selling fame of Fifty Shades et al, and as well as offering  bespoke library-building services to curate private collections, they have a popular Year in Books subscription; 12 carefully chosen and beautifully packaged throughout the year.

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16 Comments

  1. Posted 13th October 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Great list! I love Daunt Books and will have to check out more of these next time I’m in London!

    • Lucy
      Posted 13th October 2017 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Daunt Books is the best! Am reading your piece on Laguna now and it’s fab – I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was such a breath of fresh air after the smog of LA xo

  2. Posted 14th October 2017 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    This is an amazing list!! I love bookstores, and make it a point to visit one every where I go 🙂
    Can’t wait to go back to London to visit these! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lucy
      Posted 16th October 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      You and me both – it’s a good habit to have! xo

  3. Posted 14th October 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    What a lovely post! Definitely a great guide, and very useful for fellow bookworms 🙂 That Edwardian building is really beautiful! Would be the first I’d visit!!

    • Lucy
      Posted 16th October 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Thanks Eva! xo

  4. Posted 14th October 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    What a great list, these all look fantastic. I’m in London in a few weeks, will try and get to Daunt Books while I’m there.

    • Lucy
      Posted 16th October 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Oh you must! I hope you love your stay in London xo

  5. Posted 14th October 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Ok, I am dreaming about spending a few day in London now, just to visit these shops!! Damn girl! 🙂

    • Lucy
      Posted 16th October 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Hope you make it over one day! xo

  6. Posted 14th October 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I love Daunt, all the wood just makes me feel instantly relaxed. Need to visit the others now!

    • Lucy
      Posted 16th October 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Daunt is definitely one of my favourites! xo

  7. Posted 14th October 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    This post makes me miss wandering through London’s little bookshops so much. We had a great one out in Chiswick. I loved everything about it, from the way it smelled to how perfectly adorable it was on the outside. London bookshops have ruined me for all other bookshops now. 😉

    • Lucy
      Posted 16th October 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      I remember a gorgeous second hand one in Chiswick near Turnham Green when I used to work there – London has so many great bookshops! Where do you live now? Definitely hard to compete with such a great selection xo

  8. Posted 14th October 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Love this! My bestie and I visited 12 independent bookstores around Seattle in one day as part of an indie bookstore challenge a few months ago – it was so much fun! I’d love to spend a whole day in London just hanging out in bookshops.

    • Lucy
      Posted 16th October 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      That sounds like the perfect day! And it would be a great way to explore different pockets of London too xo

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