London's reputation as a literary city is undeniable. It has been the creative and literal birthplace of innumerable literary giants, all the way from Chaucer to Rowling. An erudite city survives and thrives on the strength of its bookstores, so it will hardly come as a surprise that the book shops in London are some of the loveliest and most interesting in the world. A day hidden away amongst a wealth of imagination, adventure and education makes for a memorable day. Make your escape the next time you're in the English capital and discover one of these lovely bookstores in London.
If your favourite settings are intimately linked to the picturesque, Daunt Books is the place for you. Widely regarded as the prettiest bookstore in London, its ceiling features a canal of clear glass that basks the interior wooden fixtures with daylight, whether that be warm sunshine or the much more likely grey hue of an average London day. While the Daunt brand has gone on to place itself in five other locations throughout the city, any local with a passion for books will assure you that the only real Daunt Books is the original on Marylebone High Street. The Daunt tote bag has also become something of a geek-chic accessory if you're into souvenirs with a little edge to them.
Surely the ultimate accolade for any bookstore is that it finds its way onto the pages of great fiction itself. Both James Bond and the illustrious Sherlock Holmes have placed their imaginary feet within the confines of Stanfords, the world's largest travel bookstore. Real-world heroes have also made the trip here, including Florence Nightingale and Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Scott. A must for anyone planning an adventure, whether real, imagined or somewhere in between, Stanfords has been open for over 100 years, although it has recently relocated to Covent Garden. The interior features a wall filled with globes to set the tone and there is a muted but genuine sense of excitement to the place. The in-store café is also a great place to sip and read.
You might think it common sense that an impressive selection of second-hand books and large quantities of water should be kept a safe difference away from eachother but you'd be dead wrong. Word on the Water proves this as it's a Dutch canal boat that has found a new lease on life as one of the most creative and cosy bookstores in the city. While its days as a wandering purveyor of literature are behind it, it still bobs on the water at its now-permanent location on Regent's Canal. Inside you'll find an old-school wood burner keeping the London chill out when necessary, as well as a comfortable-looking armchair, and the occasional musical performance if you're lucky.
The modern age of smartphones, mobile games and on-demand television have made it increasingly hard to draw children into a world built out of nothing flashier than the written word. Discover Children's Story Centre meets the challenge with gusto, helping to bridge the gap between interactive play and the world of children's fiction by offering immersive exhibitions based around classic and modern stories and themes in children's literature.
For many, the flagship Foyles store in Soho is exactly what springs to mind when they think of London bookstores. An icon in itself, Foyles is the right decision if you want to be blown away by choice. A whopping five floors hold shelves packed to the brim with literature on just about every topic. Add to that a spacious environment where a little pre-purchase reading is encouraged, and you can start to see why this store has been making waves since 1903. Readings by famous authors are also a regular fixture so it's worth researching upcoming events before you decide on your next book-seeking adventure.