15 BEST Bookshops In London [By A Local Bookworm!]

Leah Tierney
Written By:
Leah Tierney
Last Updated:
June 1, 2023
Here's a deep dive into the absolute best bookshops London has to offer. All personally tried & tested by a local bookworm (me!) find your next stop ...
best bookshops in London

If you are a book lover in London (like me), then you really are spoilt for choice! 

There’s such a huge variety of bookshops in the city and you can find them pretty much on every street, the city is absolutely full of them! 

Whether you are looking for cosy, modern, second-hand books, new releases or first editions, there will be a bookstore for you. 

I am a huge bookworm.

I love escaping the chaos of this crazy (yet wonderful) city every now and then to spend a few hours browsing for a good new book. 

Plus, it’s one of the best things to do in London during Winter & it’s too cold to head outside!

Since I have tried and tested most of the bookshops in central London now, I have narrowed down my 15 best bookshops in London that you absolutely must visit! 

Let’s get straight into it …

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London’s best bookshops

1. Foyles

Foyles Bookshop Interior in London

Location: Charing Cross road

Opening times: Monday-Saturday 9am until 9pm and 11:30 until 6pm on Sundays

I couldn't make this list without mentioning what is probably London’s most famous bookshop, Foyles, specifically the one on Charing Cross road.

This bookstore is absolutely huge, stretching over five floors and housing pretty much every book you can think of, and plenty you will have never heard of! 

Foyles Bookshop in London

While it's not the cosiest on this list, if you are after a particular book or want to take some time to browse for a while, Foyles is a great place to start. 

Not only does Foyles house the largest collection of books in the UK with a whopping 200,000, but it is also a great place to pick up games, puzzles and other souvenirs. 

Be sure to head to the 5th level to check out their cafe if you need a caffeine fix to finish all your browsing! 

2. Brick Lane Bookshop

Brick Lane Bookshop

Location: Brick Lane 

Opening times: Open every day from 10am until 6pm 

I can never visit Brick Lane without popping into Brick Lane Bookshop

As it opened in the 1970’s, it was actually the first ever bookshop in Tower Hamlets and was created after a protest for more art projects in the borough. 

It is quite a small independent bookshop but if you can't find what you are looking for, they are more than happy to order you a specific book in, usually ready to collect the very next day! 

If you do visit, be sure to pick up their very own short stories book and a tote bag as a souvenir! 

3. Walden Books

Walden Books in London

Location: Camden

Opening times: Only open Thursday through until Sunday 10:30am until 6:30pm 

When I think of a cosy independent bookshop in London, Walden Books is always the one that springs to mind for me. 

It is tucked away on a side street, just around the corner from one of the best food markets in London, Camden Market, you would have to know it's there to find it! 

Books on display outside of Walden Books
In my happy place!

If you are looking for the newest releases, you won't find them at Walden Books as they purely buy and sell second-hand books specialising in rare and unique literature and visual arts.  

Scramble through the huge piles of books outside in great condition and you can find some incredible books for as little as 50p! Or why not take a peek at their rare book collections inside if you are looking to invest in a different type of book?

If you visit in the warmer months, the whole front of the store is covered in beautiful lilac-coloured wisteria and other blooming flowers.

4. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Alice Through The Looking Glass Bookshop in London

Location: Cecil Court

Opening times: Monday to Friday 11am until 5:30pm, Saturdays 11am until 6pm and closed on Sundays. 

Nestled away in one of my all time favourite streets in London, is the incredible Alice Through the Looking Glass shop. 

As you can probably tell by the name, the whole shop is dedicated to all things Lewis Carol and Alice in Wonderland. 

It's a tiny little shop but is absolutely filled to the brim with memorabilia, clothing, stationary, artwork and first edition books, it's pretty much an Alice in Wonderland book museum

If you do decide to visit (which you definitely should) don't forget to say hello to Harley, their resident white rabbit! 

5. Hurlingham Books

Hurlingham Books in Fullham in London

Location: Fulham High Street 

Opening Times: Monday-Friday 9am until 6pm (ish) and Weekends 10am (ish) until 6pm. 

Potentially the best hidden-gem bookshop in London has to be Hurlingham Books! I accidentally stumbled upon this bookshop when I was flat-hunting in Fulham and completely fell in love with the place. 

If light, spacious and well-organised bookshops are your thing, this is the complete opposite! They have thousands of books all stacked on top of each other and piling outside the door, seemingly with no rhyme or reason! 

Apparently, Hurlingham Books is the oldest bookshop in South West London, after being opened by owner Ray Cole in 1968. Believe it or not, Ray still opens the bookshop himself daily every single morning! He loves talking about books so do stop and have a chat if you see him. 

If for some reason you can't find a book that takes your fancy in their huge amount of books in the store, they have a warehouse housing over a million books just around the corner which makes it impossible to leave empty handed! 

They are known for having pretty lax opening times so beware they might open late or close early, or not be open at all if the footballs on, but that's the charm of the place! 

6. Stanfords

Location: Covent Gardens 

Opening times: Monday to Wednesday 9am until 6pm, Thursday to Friday 9am until 7pm, Saturdays 10am until 7pm and Sundays 12noon until 6pm. 

If you are a lover of all things travel and wanderlust, you have to visit Stanfords in Covent Garden

While they only moved to their standing site in 1950, Standfords themselves have been operating since 1853. 

The beautiful building has stacked high bookshelves full to the brim of travel guides, itineraries, maps, and history books from all over the world. 

They organise all of their books by country so you will not struggle to find what you are looking for, and if you are missing travel as much as me, you could spend hours perusing the endless shelves.

7. Any Amount of Books

London Bookshop Any amount of books

Location: Charing Cross road

Opening times: Monday to Saturday 11am until 7:30pm and Sundays 11am until 6pm. 

For second hand books at an affordable price in Central London, Any Amount of Books is the best place to go. 

Although it has changed hands and names a few times, there has been a bookstore at this address on Charing Cross road since the 1920s! 

It's a great bookshop just to have a long browse in.

Better still if you are visiting London on a budget and want to pick up a good read. As there’s always the possibility of finding books for just £1.

Or even some rare collectable editions! 

I always forget this place is located just off Leicester Square because it really has a quaint neighbourhood bookshop feel to it

New books are always nice, but there's just something better about getting a pre-loved book for an absolute bargain and luckily Any Amount of Books keeps that going even in an age where kindles and e-readers are all the range. 

8. Hatchards

Location: Piccadilly 

Opening times: Monday until Saturday 9:30am until 8pm and Sundays 12noon until 6pm. 

I couldn't write a list about the best bookshops in London without mentioning London's oldest bookshop, Hatchards

Opened by John Hatchard in 1797 and holding three royal warrants, Hatchards is an iconic spot and a staple of Piccadilly and London itself. 

While it is a really really old store, they combine the traditional with the modern beautifully, holding both brand new books and some that are hundreds of years old. 

If you are after some rare, original, signed or special edition books, Hatchards is a great place to look! Many famous authors over the years have had their first book signings here so you will likely be able to get your hands on some original signed copies from your favourite authors! 

There is now a store in St Pancras which if you want a less prestigious shopping experience, it's worth checking out but really the original in Piccadilly is far superior!  

9. Upper Street Bookshop

The Upper Street Bookshop in London

Location: Islington 

Opening times: Everyday from 8:30am until 8:30pm 

Upper Street Bookshop is located in one of London’s best places to stay, Angel Islington. 

All of their books are carefully handpicked and you will find a mixture of new releases and high-quality remaindered books in the beautiful shop. Their friendly staff are always more than happy to help you find exactly what you are after. 

By far the best part of this bookshop though in my opinion is their “blind date with a book” section! 

You really can't judge a book by its cover but let's be honest, we all do! 

Their blind date section has all their books covered in brown packaging with just a few intriguing words written on them describing the book so you can buy it blindly for only £8 and maybe try something you would have never normally picked up! 

Upper Street Bookshops have some awesome great quality tote bags for sale as well so if you are a bookshop tote bag collector like me, definitely grab one when you’re visiting! 

It's apparently part of a small chain of independent bookstores called House of Books and if the rest of their shops are as nice as the Upper Street one, I would recommend checking them out too!

10. Word on the Water 

Location: Kings Cross

Opening times: Every day from midday until 7pm

Word on the Water has to be the most unique book shops in the whole of London … and maybe even the UK! 

A full bookstore set on a 100 year old dutch barge, jump aboard and browse their endless supply of new, old and classic books.  

Every nook and cranny of this boat bookstore is an Instagrammers dream, with its higglety pigglety furniture and impressive bookshelves. 

It's not just an epic bookshop on a boat either, it's a full experience! 

They regularly host talks on things like art and politics and in the summer months, you can see open mic nights, live music and poetry slams hosted on the boat's roof! 

11. Daunt Books

Location: Marylebone

Opening times: Monday until Saturday 9am until 7:30pm and Sundays 11am until 6pm. 

Daunt books is one of the most famous and iconic bookstores in London

The beautiful Edwardian building was first opened as a bookshop in 1912, but wasn't actually bought by James Daunt until 1990. 

Daunt Books originally specialised in travel books so the whole store is still organised by geographical location, despite now having a huge range now of fiction and new releases. 

Although their book selection is great, the building and atmosphere of Daunt Books with their wooden staircases and stained glass windows are what makes the bookstore one of the best! For this reason, although Daunt Books has a few branches now across London, Marylebone is the one to visit! 

If you are a keen traveller as well as a book lover, let this be the bookshop to visit, it is one of my favourites and even gets a shout out on my list of the best things to do for free in London

12. Gosh! 

Location: Berwick Street, Soho 

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 10:30am until 7pm 

For any comic book fan, Gosh has to be top of your list! They have an unbeaten collection of graphic novels from your rare vintage superhero picks to manga to popular new releases. 

Set in the heart of Soho, even if you are not a huge comic book fan like myself, I would highly recommend popping in and seeing what they are all about. 

While it's different from your regular cosy London bookshop, Gosh! has a comic or graphic novel for every kind of reader; potentially a good London date idea

Always check their events schedule as they host monthly reading events, and comic book launches and regularly have signings within the store that you do not want to miss.

13. Watkins Books

Watkins Books in London

Location: Cecil Court 

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 11am until 6:30pm

Watkins Books is home to one of the world's largest collections of esoteric books and has been for nearly 120 years! 

Set in the beautiful street of Cecil Court, Watkins Books is a unique store, specialising in spiritual books. 

They stock a huge variety of literature ranging from Eastern Philosophy, yoga and meditation, self-development, wellness and all that other good stuff! 

Their book collection spreads over two floors but they also stock an excellent range of gifts, tarot cards, crystals, incense, statues and jewellery. 

14. Henry Pordes Books

Henry Porders Books in London

Location: Charing Cross

Opening times: Monday to Saturday 10:30am until 7:30pm but closed on Sundays. 

Located in Charing Cross, Henry Pordes has been a favourite amongst book lovers in London for years! 

Its cosy ambient lighting and floor to ceiling bookshelves make you want to browse the second-hand books for hours. 

They have a huge range of books, hosting everything from modern delights to early classics. The owners and staff are friendly and book lovers themselves, always helpful and happy to have a natter about their extensive collections. 

It's also only around the corner from Cecil Court, home to heaps of small independent bookshops and antique stores. Such as Goldsboro Books, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Travis & Emery, so if you fancy a London bookshop crawl, you can go to a good few in a day!

15. Libreria

Location: Just off Brick Lane 

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 10am until 6pm, Sundays 12noon until 6pm and closed on Mondays. 

Escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and relax in a cosy nook of this awesome bookstore in east London. 

Every book in their collection has been handpicked and curated by the owners, meaning on every visit, the stocks will change. 

I also love their layout, as unlike other stores that might organise in alphabetical order, Liberia orders by theme or vibe, so there are whole sections dedicated to things like “enlightenment”, “bad feminism”, “identity”, “scandal” and “wanderlust”. 

Libreria has a strict no-screens policy, so leave your phone switched off, find yourself a cosy corner and get tucked away into one of their carefully handpicked books! 

Which bookshop will you visit?

Thanks for reading my rundown of the best bookshops in London.

Do let me know if you have visited any of these.

Or better still … if there are any more in the city I should check out, as I am always on the lookout.

P.s If you are visiting London soon, do check out some of my other London guides while you are here:

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