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Top 7 Bookshops in London

“A book was the truest friend you could ever wish for.” This is something my aunt once told me and with the London summer finally in full swing, I believe that one of the best ways to relax is with a book in one of London’s parks. One of the best things about London is that there is no shortage of bookshops and bookstores. It is a city where you can truly find anything you desire. For this reason we have decided to write a short piece telling about some of bookshops in London. Explore the list below to find your favourite bookstore.

Bookshops London
© Alexandra Kirr

I could go on writing about bookshops forever but for now I will leave you with these 7 fantastic bookshops in London. I hope you will be able to find a bookshop you love in these 7 and if not I will periodically add more articles about other wonderful bookshops because we have barely crapped the barrel of all the book shops London has to offer.

7 fantastic bookshops in London

7 – Black Gull Bookshop

This independent bookstore is my favourite of the list. It is located in the Camden Lock Market and is a little bubble of relaxation in what is otherwise the never ending chaos that is now Camden Town. The boast an impressive collection of books that range from Classics to History to The Women’s Movement to The Occult and Music. Every time I visit this Black Gull bookshop I always leave with at least one gem of a find. I love going to this bookshop without particular books in mind because I know that they will never let me down and I always find what I was looking for even if I didn’t know I was looking for it. If you love the Classics they have quite an extensive and impressive collection despite the size of the bookstore. As it is an independent bookshop that specialises in lovingly used books you are always guaranteed a cheap price. I picked up William Gaunt’s book on the impressionists for an amazingly low £10 price, and that is something! It’s location is also ideal for exploring Camden. Just outside the bookshop you have the food market, a tea shop, a bar and the Regent’s Canal where you can while away the day with your amazing find. Why not join our wonderful Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park which begins at Chalk Farm Station, a short 10 minute walk from this bookshop?

6 – The Feminist Library Bookshop

Located at 5 Westminster road this bookshop is an ideal place to learn more about our ever changing world. The Feminist Library and Bookshop boasts a large collection of the Women’s Liberation Movement Literature with a particular focus on the second wave dating from the late 1960’s to the 1990’s. It was founded in 1975 at the height of the Women’s Liberation Movement and is truly a wonderful place to learn more about the real History of our world. They have several author and reading events which are open to everyone. It also has a cafe for tea, coffee, cake and intense or relaxed discussions. It is run largely by a collective of volunteers and if this is an arena that interest you they are always looking for volunteers to contribute to their fantastic work. They also have many events such as The Spanish Language Book club (which my aunt regularly helps out with) and is a truly welcoming place for everyone. 

5 – Travelling Through Bookshop

This is a lovely little store located in Waterloo at 131 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7AE. It boasts a collection of new and classic works from all over the world and in several languages. It is the ideal bookstore for people who are “Travelling Through” or are feeling nostalgic about their homelands. It also has a lovely little coffee shop where you can enjoy a drink or a meal while devouring the book you just picked out. They have everything from guide books and travel writing to fiction, biographies and non-fiction. A lovely little caveat about this independent book shop is that they also have a book club which you can join by signing up. They also have a book ordering facility which is very reliable and are well versed in their field. Why not join either our Criminal’s in London or Sin, Sex and Prostitution tours which both begin in Waterloo Station?

4 – Hatchards Piccadilly Bookstore

Now we are leaving the world of chain bookshops and this particular bookstore is quite honestly speaking, fantastic. Located at 187 Piccadilly, It has 5 floors full of books and littered throughout the bookshop are very comfortable couches where you can spend hours browsing or reading your favourite book. The bookstore is London’s oldest and was founded in 1797, so while you browse through the shelves you are also browsing through history. Once you enter the bookshop you are transported to a place that feels like it’s not only outside London but outside time. Hatchards holds 3 Royal Warrants meaning they have provided services to The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. It is truly a majestic bookshop. When you are done book shopping (which let’s be honest, is quite impossible) you can then explore Piccadilly or pop into Fortnum and Mason’s which is just next door.

3 – The Works

Here I must admit that I am cheating a bit because I am not referring to any single bookshop in particular but the entire chain. The Works bookshops are fantastic places. They are located all over the country and inside them you can not only find novels and historic books but you can also find stationary and quirky presents for friends. The real draw for The Works is their price. They are quite cheap and while they don’t have as extensive a collection of books it is an ideal place to pick up something for a quick read. I was able to buy all of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones books (A Song of Ice and Fire) here in a collectors set for a mere £30. It is great value for money. 

2 – Waterstones Bookstore Piccadilly

We have another chain bookstore, however, this particular branch of Waterstones (Flagship store) is amazing. With 7 floors; 6 of which are dedicated to books, this is a place book lovers can easily get lost in. If exploring the bookstore tires you out then you can simply grab a coffee or go to the fifth floor and have a meal or a cocktail in the 5th View restaurant which boasts some great views of London including the Houses of Parliament. They also host several author and reading events and it would be one of the best opportunities to meet some of your favourite writers. Quite often they decorate the bookstore to match the aesthetic tastes of some of the bigger book launches. My favourite was for Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (there was a pinball machine designed like the cover of the book.) Located at 203/206 Piccadilly it means you can easily go on to discover Piccadilly, Regent Street, Leicester Square or go to relax in St James’s Park which is a short 5 minute walk away. Why Not join one of our Royal Westminster Tours before or after visiting this bookshop? 

1 – Foyles Bookshop Charing Cross Road

We are starting simply here with London’s most famous bookstore. Located in the heart of London at 107 Charing Cross Road this wonderful bookshop has been around since 1906. It is the flagship shop of the Foyles chain and it is an experience to explore this wondrous maze of more than 200000 titles making up 4 miles of books.  The idea of Foyles as the world’s first “purpose built bookshop” was fostered in 1903 when brothers William and Gilbert Foyle failed their civil service exams and decided to resell their text books and thus what many consider the world’s greatest bookshop was born. It’s a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours looking for the ideal book then heading out into Soho to explore one of London’s most colourful and iconic places before settling on a coffee shop, bar or Soho Square to relax and read in the sun. You may even be inclined to join one of our wonderful tours of Soho afterwards.

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