Literary lovers in London are some of the luckiest bookworms on the planet.
Although the world of digital has greatly transformed the way people enjoy books today, London is still full of amazing and varied book shops throughout the city. So whether you’re visiting and are after something traditional and classic, or if you’d like to pick up the latest best-seller, or perhaps you’re after something completely different, there’s a book – and a book shop – for everyone in the city.
If you’re staying in the central part of the city, specifically in one of the top hotels near Oxford Street London, you’re luckier still. There are countless incredible book shops in this part of the city, near the coveted area of Marble Arch, which looks like something straight out of a Charles Dickens novel.
Once you’ve had a look at Marble Arch London hotels in the area, it’s time to kick start your literary adventure. Here are our top picks for shops you need to visit to pick up a book (or 10).
On your walks throughout London, you’ll no doubt spot the now-famous Daunt Books canvas tote bags out and about. Daunt Books was founded back in 1990 by James Daunt in the stunning Edwardian base at 83 Marylebone High Street, which was originally built for antiquarian booksellers Francis Edwards in 1910. So you don’t get much more typically English than this.
At the heart of the shop is a large, galleried central room which has a beautiful arched window, glazed with stained glass. They arrange books mainly by country, whatever the nature of the book – fiction or non-fiction, biography, history, guide or novel. This creates a wonderful browsing experience both for the traveller and the usual reader.
Hatchards is officially London’s oldest bookshop, so is well worthy of a place on our list. Having been established in 1797 by John Hatchard, it has since been a landmark on one of the most elegant and most famous streets in the world, Piccadilly, since Georgian times. It has been at the current building, number 187, for more than two centuries.
Eight generations of shoppers and booksellers have come and gone since the shop originally opened its doors. Many things have shifted since then, but the heart of the place remains the same.
Therefore, Hatchards is a truly unique British institution.
Heywood Hill Ltd
Situated in the heart of Mayfair and close by Marble Arch London hotels, Heywood Hill is one of the best bookshops in the city and is esteemed by readers and collectors throughout the English-speaking world. The staff are dedicated bibliophiles who appreciate the value of matching the right book with the right person, and they offer a range of tailored literary services, all marked by old-fashioned service and good British humour.
Shapero Rare Books
Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in rare and antiquarian books, as the name suggests. The team have over 200 years’ experience in the book world with special expertise in exquisitely illustrated books from the 15th to the 20th century, travel & voyages, natural history, literature, children’s books,
guidebooks, and much more. In 2014 they launched Shapero Modern – a modern, up-to-date prints department that curates several shows annually on topical themes in their vast collection.
They also practice in prints and first works across a wide array of subjects, from antique prints to contemporary pochoir plates, as well as photographs from vintage photography to current art photography.
Gay’s the Word
There are bookshops in London for people from all backgrounds and walks of life, with bookshops often serving as a safe space or educational space for some minorities.
A great example is this one.
Gay’s the Word became the UK’s first gay bookshop when it was established in 1979, and unfortunately, it’s now the only surviving one.
During its life, British society has shifted enormously; lesbian and gay literature has finally edged into the mainstream. But it is still exciting to see that Gay’s the Word remains a great place to visit, with welcoming, expert staff and an unmatched range of lesbian and gay books, from the obscure to the pulp, as well as the fact that they host regular literary events and discussion groups.
Any Amount of Books
Located just a minute away from the tourist hotspot, Leicester Square underground station on Charing Cross Road and around the corner from hotels near Oxford Street London, they’re a key figurehead on a street synonymous with second-hand bookselling and popular book stores in London.
They stock a varied, constantly changing range of books, from £1.00 bargains to rare collectors’ treasures. They specialise in everything and anything from rare books, first editions, modern literature, art, poetry, scholarly/academic, antique, leather-bound sets, uncorrected proofs and more.
A particular favourite with some of the city’s most celebrated authors, Goldsboro Books aims to provide signed hardback first edition books in both their central London bookshop and online, delivering the best book-buying experience for every customer. Their mission is to interest and inspire book lovers, readers and collectors, all whilst providing the most exceptional quality signed books in the world.
They have over 25,000 hardback first editions in stock and are meticulous when it comes to condition, covering all dust jackets in a protective clear film to preserve the book in the best condition.
A must for tourists in London, Stanfords is the UK’s leading specialist seller of maps, travel books and other travel accessories, after becoming established in 1853 by Edward Stanford. After a whopping 118 years at their Long Acre address, their flagship store has relocated to 7 Mercer Walk in Covent Garden, where they are continuing their tradition of bringing world-class travel literature to the UK and beyond.
As such, they have been somewhat of an imperative first port of call for travellers for more than a century. Their clientele past and present includes such famous names as Amy Johnson, David Livingstone, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Florence Nightingale, Ranulph Fiennes, Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, and even Sherlock Holmes – yep, really!
Best of all? All of these bookstores can be easily reached by The Montcalm Marble Arch, meaning compared to other Marble Arch hotels and hotels near Oxford Street, this is the best place to stay for bookworms who are eager to explore.