There’s nothing I enjoy more than curling up with a good book. Whether I’m on the sofa at home on a winter’s night or on a bench in a park on a summer’s day, I love getting lost in the pages of a novel. And when I need inspiration for something new to read, I head to one of my favorite places for books in the city. If you’re a book lover like me, today I want to share 9 of the best independent bookshops in London with you.
Independent Bookshops in London
From well-known establishments to under-the-radar gems, London has no shortage of unique places to look for new titles and rare first editions. I mentioned some of the best places for books and specialty bookstores in London in previous blog posts, so today I want to focus on the independents that cover a range of genres.
Having graced Piccadilly since 1797, Hatchards is London’s oldest bookshop and a city institution. I love wandering in on a rainy day and getting lost in floor after floor of titles. I find something new to love at the top of each staircase, and I always enjoy their special tables full of novellas and other themed picks.
2. Daunt Books
I know, I know. I mention the Marylebone branch of Daunt Books in pretty much all of my blog posts about books in London. But that’s because it’s such an amazing place. Not only does it have one of the biggest travel book selections in London, but it also features one of the most picture-pretty rooms of any bookshop in the city. If there’s one place that inspires me to read and travel at the same time, it’s Daunt.
3. Belgravia Books
Over on Ebury Street, I was first drawn to Belgravia Books when I saw the pretty blue tables and chairs outside. When I realized they were sitting in front of a bookshop I knew I had to go in. When I did I found a small but efficient space full of great staff picks and new-to-me titles. Since then I’ve been drawn back by the prospect of discovering the latest recommendations, one of which I finished last night—When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow is hilarious.
Foyles is another name that needs no introduction. Its massive shop on Charing Cross Road is a London institution, and many locals and visitors consider it one of the best independent bookshops in London. I always love browsing the shelves in Foyles, not least because there are genres both familiar and foreign to me. From classic literature to Japanese anime, Foyles has something for every reader.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Treadwell’s in Bloomsbury specializes in one niche: the magical and mystical. From occult books to tarot readings, pagan supplies to esoteric collectibles, this bookshop is one of the most unique in London. I walk by all the time, and am always excited to see what’s new in the window.
6. Lutyens & Rubinstein
Out west in Notting Hill, the adorable Lutyens & Rubinstein is a haven of literary goodness. The small multi-level shop has everything from greeting cards to children’s books, and downstairs there’s a table where their in-house literary agency holds meetings amidst the shelves. I love wandering through the door and immersing myself in this little literary world.
7. London Review Bookshop
There are a million bookshops around the British Museum, all of them specializing in one thing or another. But one that always stands out for me is the London Review Bookshop (and—let’s be honest—its cake shop next door). The shop itself is light and bright, and I love how there’s a little courtyard out back with tables and sofas perfect for curling up with a book and a cuppa (and cake, of course).
8. The Notting Hill Bookshop
Remember the bookshop from the movie Notting Hill? Well it wasn’t just a set. The shop really exists in the neighborhood, and while it’s a new iteration of the original it’s still a fun place to go. The Notting Hill Bookshop offers everything from classic fiction to travel guides, and has a lot of gift-worthy books and accessories for sale.
9. John Sandoe Books
John Sandoe Books is tucked away on a side street off the King’s Road in Chelsea. Walking in is like stepping back in time, with dark wooden shelves and a narrow staircase winding its way up to a labyrinth of rooms. Stacks of books along the windows make me want to pick up each one to see what’s underneath, and every visit is like a trip to a treasure trove.
There are a lot more independent bookstores in London, but I hope these 9 help get you started on your explorations. Happy reading!
What are your favorite independent bookshops in London?