The romance and nostalgic appeal of London’s quaint bookshops are hard to overlook. From historic, dusty hideaways to neighborhood favorites, this is truly a city for bibliophiles and bookworms. Selected for their poetic charm, indie spirit and enchanting ambiance, these are just a few of our favorite London bookshops to get lost in for hours. Don’t forget to save room in your suitcase.
Charming London Bookshops
South Kensington Books
Located in one of the most beautiful pedestrian squares in West London, South Kensington Books has been located at 22 Thurloe Street in Kensington since the 1940s. You can spend hours looking through this small but well-appointed shop. They have plenty of art-based books and an extensive history section. You may even be able to find one of these London-themed books, should you need some reading materials for the flight home or inspiration to book another trip.
After you’ve fed your mind with a few new books, feed your belly. Right by South Kensington Books, there’s Kensington Crêperies, serving mouth-watering French-style crêpes like the “La Belle Helene” crêpe made with poached pear, milk chocolate, almonds and whipped cream. (For other places to shop and eat in the neighborhood, read this.)
The Notting Hill Bookshop
In the classic 1999 film Notting Hill, Hugh Grant’s character owns a bookshop. His bookshop is modeled after The Notting Hill Book Shop, which can be found right off Portobello Road in Notting Hill. You can still find tourists taking photos in front of it, but don’t forget to peek inside. Stacked on the shelves are charming gift editions of your favorite classic books, as well as hardbacks and satin-bound tomes. Unfortunately, you won’t find Hugh Grant. See a few of our other favorite London locations used in Hollywood movies here.
Lutyens & Rubinstein
Just around the corner from The Notting Hill Bookshop is Lutyens & Rubinstein. It’s one the cutest London bookshops with a well-appointed children’s section, so you can certainly bring the kids along. Lutyens & Rubinstein also hosts events throughout the year, so keep an eye on their website if you’re staying nearby at the cozy one-bedroom, one-bathroom Leicester apartment.
One of the most photographed London bookshops has be Daunt Books, an independent bookshop with several locations throughout London include Marylebone, Holland Park, Hampstead, Cheapside, Chelsea and Belsize Park. There are plenty of author events to enjoy in the Daunt bookshops throughout London. Also, Daunt Books recently began publishing their own books. Under the Daunt Books imprint, you can find several reissued new editions of lost classics like this gorgeous edition of Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by famous Briton Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It would make a great souvenir or keep it for yourself to read on a cold winter’s night in front of an open fire.
The most famous of Daunt’s shops is the Edwardian-style Marylebone branch, which is pictured at the beginning of this article. It was first built in 1910 for an antiquarian bookseller. There is also something especially charming about the Holland Park location, which is a few minutes’ walk from the beautifully decorated Austen. In fact, the Austen is the perfect apartment for book lovers because it comes stocked with bookshelves full of books and lots of quaint little reading nooks to enjoy, not to mention a lovely fireplace. (Here are a few more London Perfect apartments with warm and cozy fireplaces to curl up in front of.)
Stanfords bills itself as the world’s biggest and best map and travel bookshop. Operating since 1853, Stanfords gained its popularity and fame during the rise of the European Grand Tour. This was when aristocratic ladies and gentlemen would embark on a trip through Europe as a means of education, so naturally, maps and reading materials were big business.
Today at Stanfords, you can still find an impressive array of new and old maps, atlases, globes, plus travel writing and guidebooks. They also have a wide selection of toys and gifts and host events throughout the year. And if you feel yourself losing momentum, why not perk yourself up with some coffee from their in-house café? Stanfords has moved locations throughout the years and now can be found at 7 Mercer Walk in central Covent Garden.
Ready to explore these charming London bookshops? We can help you find a vacation home perfectly situated within walking distance of many of these bookshops and more.