Best Bookshops in London – 20 Amazing London Bookshops

Posted 01/01/2024 | 1st January, 2024

There is no denying that regular travel has made us all love the convenience of a Kindle. However, there is something special about wandering around bookshops, the feel of a physical book, and not forgetting that all-important new book smell! So, it felt apt to collate a list of the best bookshops in London.

You’ll be happy to learn that London is a book lovers’ paradise. There are fantastic stores in every corner of the capital, ranging from the big household names we all know and love, to independents – and even shops catering specifically to first editions.

So, whether you’re looking for famous London bookshops or the best independent bookstores in London, this post has you covered!

London Bookshops
London Bookshops

The Household Names – Famous London Bookshops

If you’re a bookworm in London, the best place to start might be with those household names we all know and love.

The amazing thing about London is that everything is on a larger-than-life scale, so expect everything you know, just bigger and better!

Foyles

Location: Multiple across London, with a flagship store in Charing Cross

Foyles has seven stores across the UK, but their flagship stands proudly on Charing Cross Road. This is the ideal place to start if you love a variety of books. With a staggering 200,000 books on offer, the variety here is truly astounding.

Foyles is largely considered one of the best bookshops in London due to its sheer size. There are four packed floors of household names and best sellers. Nestled within the plethora of reading materials, Foyles also sell stationery and gifts, and there is even a café.

Waterstones

Location: Multiple across London, with a flagship store in Piccadilly

Waterstones London
Waterstones London

Waterstones might be an obvious option for a list of the best bookshops in London, but its flagship store in London Piccadilly is a true sight to behold. This shop sprawls over six magnificent floors, housing over eight miles of shelf space!

Waterstones Piccadilly also claims to be the largest bookshop in Europe. Of course, Waterstones has all the best sellers and new releases. However, this location also has a vast range of different speciality areas, including history, politics, languages, travel and even a whole department dedicated to first editions.

Hatchards Piccadilly (Owned by Waterstones)

Location: 187 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9LE

It feels worthwhile first to point out that Waterstones own Hatchards, but it feels nothing like a chain bookstore once you’re inside. In fact, Hatchards feels quite the opposite.

Located next door to the late queen’s favourite biscuit shop, Fortnum & Mason, Hatchards is the UK’s oldest bookstore, originally opening its doors in 1797. Much like its neighbour, Hatchards also has the royal stamp of approval, boasting three Royal warrants.

Best London Bookshops
London Bookshops

The Specialist Areas – Best London Bookshops

You can explore London’s diverse literary landscape through its specialist bookshops, each a treasure trove in its own niche.

From rare editions at Goldsboro Books to LGBTQ+ literature at Gays the Word, these stores offer more than books—they cultivate experiences.

Goldsboro Books – First Editions

Location: 23-27 Cecil Court, London, WC2N 4EZ

Goldsboro Books, among the best bookshops in London, is a sanctuary for literary connoisseurs, specialising in signed first editions and exclusive copies.

Nestled in the heart of the city, it’s a magical place for collectors and passionate readers seeking unique finds and rare editions. Their curated selection and dedication to literary treasures make it a must-visit for those seeking distinctive additions to add to their collections.

Gay’s the Word – LGBT+ Bookstore

Location: 66 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB

Gay’s the Word stands proudly among London’s best bookstores, revered as a vital LGBTQ+ cultural cornerstone.

It’s not just a bookstore; it’s a haven fostering inclusivity, community, and diversity. Offering an extensive array of literature championing LGBTQ+ voices, this iconic space serves as a hub for exploration, celebration, and support, drawing readers seeking representation and meaningful connections through literature.

Daunt Books – Best For Travel Lovers

Location: 84 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW

Daunt Books Marylebone
Daunt Books Marylebone

It’s no understatement that Daunt Books is every Londoner’s favourite bookshop. They have nine separate shops, but their flagship store in Marylebone is the real star of the show and a must-visit for any travel enthusiast. Three floors of books organised by country allows readers to explore different areas of the world in more depth.

Daunt Books is so much more than travel guides – each section is packed with travel plans, novels and biographies from that particular region. This is also the place to go if you’re looking for a gift for someone passionate about travel.

Stanfords – Excellent London Bookshop for Travellers

Location: 7 Mercer Walk, London WC2H 9FA

Stanfords is the ultimate destination for travellers; it houses a vast collection of maps, travel guides, and exploration literature.

Whether planning an expedition or seeking inspiration for globetrotting dreams, Stanfords is an indispensable resource, captivating explorers and wanderlust-driven souls.

Books for Cooks – Best London Bookshop for Cooking Enthusiasts

Location:  4 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 1NN

There are no prizes for guessing what Books for Cooks specialises in. This charming, bright London Bookshop is packed with every cookbook you can imagine.

Old titles, current best-sellers and everything in between. You will not struggle to find a cuisine you love, regardless of how niche it may be!

Books for Cooks is a great option if you’re looking for a gift for a cooking enthusiast.

Gosh! – Comic Books

Location: 1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR

Located right in the heart of Soho, Gosh! is a sanctuary for all those who love comic books.

Gosh! Has been open for more than 30 years, meaning they are experts in the game and can find you pretty much any graphic novel you’re hoping to get your hands on. From small press to mainstream superhero antics, they have got you covered!

Gosh! Is also a great social hub, with regular reading groups and launch parties.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Location: 14 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4HE

Alice Through the Looking Glass, nestled among the best second-hand bookshops in London, transports visitors into the enchanting world of children’s literature.

This whimsical bookstore caters to young readers, offering a captivating array of books designed to ignite imagination and foster a love for reading. Its charming ambience and carefully curated selection make it a delightful haven where stories come alive, making it a must-visit for families and young book enthusiasts.

Aside from books, this bookshop is packed with memorabilia, gifts, clothing and stationery.

Foster Books – Rare Books in London

Location: 183 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, London W4 2DR

Foster Books specialises in rare and out-of-print books. They have been in the business for over 50 years and are located in the oldest shop on Chiswick High Road. 

Foster Books is a family-run business, and their passion for their craft is evident. They also have an online store that highlights all of their recently added inventory, which is great if you have a book in mind but don’t have the time to travel to London.

The Best London Second-Hand Bookshops

Explore London’s second-hand bookshops, where every book has a story to share.

London’s second-hand bookshops are special places full of pre-loved books waiting for new readers. You can find forgotten gems and classic books that are just waiting for someone to pick them up again.

These bookshops are like time machines, keeping the magic of old books alive for everyone to enjoy. It’s a journey through history and amazing stories, all waiting for you to explore.

Any Amount of Books

Location: 6 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0QA

Any Amount of Books is a popular London second-hand bookshop with a full and varied selection and an online store stocking over 18,000 titles.

It’s a social, comfortable environment that encourages shoppers to browse the shelves with no pressure. Any Amount of Books prides itself on providing a book for every budget and taste. Their stock starts at £1.50 per book, ranging up to rare collectors’ pieces.

Bookmongers – London Second Hand Bookshop

Location: 439 Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8LN

Located in vibrant Brixton, Bookmongers opened its doors in the early nineties and has been serving the people of south London ever since.

There is an eclectic mix of second-hand gems in store, all very reasonably priced. The staff are friendly and welcoming, always on hand to help you source the right item.

If you want to support the business but prefer new books over second-hand, check out their website, which has a great selection.

The Best Social Bookstores in London

I love nothing more than curling up on the sofa with a good book and cup of tea (or a glass of wine), but sometimes it’s fun to share your passion for reading.

Here are the best bookshops in London for those looking for something a little more social!

BookBar Islington

Location: 166 Blackstock Road, London N5 1HA

Books and wine – my two favourite things! Bookbar is everything you could wish for from a social bookshop in London.

What I love about this place is that the staff are so friendly and welcoming, but they are also very knowledgeable about the stock and more than happy to give their recommendations.

Bookbar has a unique monthly subscription cleverly named shelf medicate. You can opt for the paperback or hardback version, and the subscription is kicked off with a consultation, whereby one of their advisers will create a tailored reading program for you, ensuring an exciting new read is delivered to your door each month.

If you’re looking to chat with other like-minded people and even get the opportunity to ask some questions of authors, then consider joining their book club. One-off attendance is £18 per ticket, or the subscription costs £15 per month.

Libreria

Location: 65 Hanbury Street, London E1 5JL

Located just five minutes from Spitalfields market, Libreria is perhaps the most Instagrammable bookshop on this list and one of my favourite bookshops in east London. So, it might be a surprise that they have a polite ‘no phones’ request to encourage visitors to immerse themselves fully into the wonderful world of books.

The shelves here are divided into broad terms rather than the topic areas we are used to seeing. This invites customers to pick up new titles and authors they may not have previously gravitated towards. Libreria has a relaxed atmosphere, with socialising and taking your time perusing the shelves highly encouraged!

Nomad Books

Location: 781 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5HA

Nomad Books is a welcoming independent bookshop in Fulham. It’s a bright, colourful, inviting space that won the best London Bookshop in the British Book Awards 2023.

There is plenty of relaxed seating, and a strong community feel to the shop, allowing each visitor as much time as they require to browse the shelves. An excellent children’s section also makes Nomad Books a great option for the whole family.

The Best All Rounders – Best Bookstores in London

If you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, try one of these all-rounders. Expect to find all the household names and best-sellers, perfect if you want some reading inspiration.

John Sandoe, Chelsea

Location: 10 – 12 Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, London, SW3 2SR

John Sandoe

John Sandoe is one of the best independent bookstores in London, located on a beautiful back street in Chelsea.

John Sandoe opened its doors in 1957 and has stolen the hearts of locals and tourists alike ever since. They stock a staggering 30,000 titles and now also occupy the two adjacent shops, giving even more space to pack in the books.

They also offer a fantastic monthly subscription service where you will receive a new handpicked book at your door each month. These are beautifully wrapped in brown paper and chosen specially for each individual, meaning no two people receive the same book each month.

Brick Lane Bookshop

Location: 166 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU

Brick Lane
Shoreditch Graffiti

Maybe I’m biased due to my love for East London, but Brick Lane Bookshop is my favourite bookshop in London.

The main section of the store is packed with new releases and best sellers – this section is continually updated, which keeps visitors coming back week after week. Alongside these household names, there is plenty of variety to cater to every customer.

Being a tourist hotspot, they also have a great selection of souvenirs and gifts, including iconic tote bags.

Looking to explore this area more? See the Ultimate Shoreditch Street Art Guide

Lutyens & Rubinstein

Location: 21 Kensington Park Road, London W11 2EU

Lutyens & Rubinstein, with its iconic blue and white striped awning, is one of the best-known independent bookstores in London.

Set up by the literary agency with the same name, Lutyens & Rubinstein is a beautifully designed shop that invites visitors to take their time browsing the selection on offer.

What is so unique about this bookstore is that each and every book stocked is handpicked upon a recommendation. This spreads across all genres and target markets, making the shelves a fun, diverse place to grab your next read.

Lutyens & Rubinstein also offers a range of bespoke services, including ‘A Number of Books’. Here, the team will pick out and wrap the appropriate number of books for the number of years you are marking based on the recipients’ interests. A wonderful gift for any bookworm in your life!

Word on the Water, Regent’s Canal

Location: The Towpath, Regent’s Canal

Regents Canal
Regents Canal

This is a bold statement, but you will struggle to find a more unique bookshop anywhere in the world.

Word on the Water is a floating book barge on Regents Canal, permanently moored just next to the towpath. Visitors are invited to look at the books on display or snuggle up inside with a good book in front of the fire.

There are regular events at Word on the Water, including musicians, poetry and regular guest speakers. They are open every day from midday until 7 pm. If there is a particular book you are searching for that, you cannot find on the barge – reach out to the team, who will be able to help source it for you.

MORE LONDON INSPIRATION:

A Full Guide to London’s Kew Gardens

8 Amazing Day Trips From London

16 of London’s Best Parks

The Ultimate Shoreditch Street Art Guide

14 of the Best Museums in London

Best Cheap (and Free!) Things to Do in London

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London Bookshops
Best London Bookshops
London Bookshops

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