London is home to some of the most beautiful bookshops in England and I get asked for recommendations for where to shop for books in London all the time. So, I thought it was about time I shared some of my favourites and the crème de la crème of London bookshops on the blog! I’ve rounded up the the best independent bookshops in London, which also happen to be amongst the most beautiful. Some sell new books, some sell second hand books, but you can be sure you’ll find something for you on this list. Have a little scroll.
Daunt Books, Marylebone
Daunt Books is the number one suggestion whenever anyone talks about beautiful bookshops in London. Although there are actually six Daunt bookshops in London, the store on Marylebone High Street is the original and undoubtedly the most iconic. It boasts a large gallery lined with books and at the end there is an amazing stained glass window, which is why it’s one of the most instagrammable bookshops in London.
Here you’ll find old and new books, fiction and non-fiction, as well as a huge selection of travel related books. Each purchase comes with a Daunt bookmark and you can also purchase a Daunt Books tote bag, which is very popular.
Foster Books, Chiswick
Foster Books has a beautiful bright green exterior that you can’t miss as you walk down Chiswick High Street. You can see from a quick peek in through the window that the store is full to the brim with old books. When the weather’s good these books will spill out onto the street as they set up numerous tables outside the store.
Foster Books mostly stocks old and rare books so this is a good place to browse if you’re looking to pick up a first edition of your favourite title.
Hatchards, Picadilly Circus
Hatchards bookshop has one of the most luxe interiors compared to the other beautiful bookshops featured, which is fitting because of its location on Piccadilly. Hatchards is actually now a branch of Waterstones but it claims to be the oldest bookshop in the United Kingdom having been founded in 1797.
This is the place to come if you’re looking for the latest releases in both fiction and non-fiction or you want to pick up a particularly beautiful edition of one of your favourite reads. They frequently host author events here so you might even find a signed copy of that new release you’re after!
They’ve also launched their own annual book subscription service with six different categories to choose from, which could make a great gift for a bookworm.
John Sandoe Books, Chelsea
John Sandoe Books is located just off Sloane Square and is made up three adjoining eighteenth century shops. It’s a general book shop with a bias towards the humanities so expect general fiction, classics, poetry, history, biography and more.
I fell in love with it for its broad collection of books from Everyman’s Library, which I found tucked away in a corner. John Sandoe Books stocks lots of beautiful editions of important books and it’s the sort of bookshop I want to take my Dad to browse on a Sunday afternoon.
Persephone Books, Bloomsbury
Persephone Books is one of the most unique bookshops in London because it specialises in women’s fiction. More specifically, women’s fiction that has been overlooked over the decades. They reprint neglected fiction and non-
You can instantly recognise a book that has been printed by Persephone Books because of the simple light grey covers which lack illustrations and fancy add ons. It’s a small store, I suppose because of its niche stock, but it’s one that is well worth exploring and investing in.
Libreria is a bookshop I discovered a few months ago and it has quickly risen to be one of my favourite bookshops. What’s unique about Libreria is that they organise books by theme and it’s a great way to discover new books.
One of my all time favourite books is The Course of Love by Alain de Botton and I managed to find other books written by him and some further reading thanks to Libreria’s recommendations.
The mirrored ceiling gives the illusion of the bookshelves going on forever, a book lover’s dream! There’s also some comfy seating so you can pull up a chair and pull out a book.
Word On The Water, Kings Cross
Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Bloomsbury
London Review Bookshop, Bloomsbury
The London Review Bookshop is located in the heart of Bloomsbury, an area known for its literary connections to Virgina Woolf, E M Forster and more. They’ve got everything here from classics to contemporary fiction, including sections for poetry, history, politics, cookery, philosophy and even children’s books.
This earns its place as one of the best bookstores in London because of the coffeeshop and outdoor seating area attached to it. Come here with friends to browse the shelves and then move to the coffeeshop to discuss your latest reads over tea and cake.
Lutyens and Rubinstein, Notting Hill
I loved Lutyens and Rubinstein from the moment I stepped inside because of the magical flying books they’ve got hanging from the ceiling. It’s not a particularly large store but they have a carefully curated selection of fiction and non-fiction books here so you know you’ve picked up something good when browsing these shelves.
Oh and if you’re looking for that bookshop from the film Notting Hill, you can find that just one minute away. Sadly The Notting Hill Bookshop is a regular bookshop and it does not specialise in travel books as it does in the film with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
Hurlingham Books, Fulham
It was love at first sight with Hurlingham Books in Fulham. As I walked up Fulham road from Putney Bridge tube station, I spied rows of books lining the outside window ledge and the outside of the store. Then I arrived outside the store and saw the huge window displays with piles and piles of books.
I know all the books on this list are beautiful but Hurlingham Books might just take the top spot for me. I thought to myself, could this be London’s most beautiful bookshop?
I made my way inside and was even more delighted to find that the shop is full to bursting with books all the way from the floor to the ceiling. There are bookshelves everywhere so you’ll need to breathe in to squeeze through these narrow stacks. This is one of the best second hand bookshops in London if you’re looking for general fiction and it reminds me very much of The Abbey Bookshop in Paris.
The Bookshop on the Heath, Blackheath
The Bookshop on the Heath is one I stumbled upon by accident when exploring the area and how could I miss it with that gorgeous bright blue exterior? Upon entering, I was delighted to find they have a wide selection of beautiful second hand editions here.
If you’re ever exploring Greenwich in South West London then add a trip to The Bookshop on the Heath to your itinerary. They’ve got a whole shelf dedicated to the iconic blue and orange Penguin books as well as lots of other old classics.
Pages of Hackney, Hackney
Pages of Hackney is one of the newest bookshops on this list as it only opened ten years ago in 2008. On the inside you’ll find an eclectic mix of titles on these colourful shelves with everything from literary fiction and feminism to children’s books and natural writing.
Their bookshop aims to be welcoming to all the community, evidenced by the cosy seating area found in the corner of the shop. They also try to give a platform to marginalised voices in publishing, which is evident from the titles they stock.
Goldsboro Books, Soho
Goldsboro Books is located in Cecil Court, which is also thought to be the street that inspired Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. The whole street is lined with quirky shops and second hand bookshops but Goldsboro Books is judge a notch above the rest. The drawbridge style ledge outside is what brought me to its doors as I couldn’t resist those lines of books!
Goldsboro Books specialise in first editions and signed books so this could be a good place to pick up a gift for the bookworm in your life. You can see from the window display pictured below that they’ve got copies of books by J K Rowling, as well as her alias Robert Galbraith and even George R R Martin!
Heywood Hill, Mayfair
Heywood Hill is situated in a beautiful Georgian townhouse in Mayfair. The bookshop is not very big, but every book there has earned its place. They sell old, new and antiquarian books in the categories of literature, history, architecture, biography and travel.
It’s rise to becoming one of London’s best bookshops is largely due to the fact that author Nancy Mitford worked here during the second half of World War II. At Heywood Hill, they’ve tried to keep her sense of fun and wit alive through today’s bookshop and they’ve even created a special boxset of her five best books.