Westminster is one of London’s largest and most important boroughs. A city in its own right, it contains the Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, and many more. With all there is to see here, you might not be thinking about finding a good bookshop, but that’s where we come into the picture. We have found five great bookshops that you can visit within the city to find everything from antique tomes to some travel books that will help you explore the city better. If you think we left out a good store that you’ve visited, let us know in the comments.
Daunt Books Marylebone
Daunt Books was founded over 30 years ago and has become a top destination for travel books in London. The flagship store is located in Marylebone in a building that had been a bookshop since 1912 and, as such, is one of the best-looking bookshops in the entire city. It has just about everything you could ever need to prepare for a trip (book-wise, at least) with phrasebooks, travel guides, and personal accounts all arranged geographically. If they don’t have a book on a certain corner of the globe, you probably don’t want to go to that place anyway.
Advertising itself as “the socialist bookshop”, Bookmarks is a good place to go for books on political, economic, social studies, and current events. Bookmarks has been in business for over 40 years and sells books for any age from children’s literature to philosophical texts and guides on activism. It also has a number of titles designed to help employees in the workplace to educate them on their rights from disability accommodations to union formation. Whether you agree with the shop’s politics or not, it’s worth visiting for an eye-opening and educational experience.
Past Quinto’s green exterior you’ll find one of the best varieties of second-hand and rare books in the whole of the City of Westminster. The store is actually two stores in one, as the rare books of Francis Edwards can be found on the ground floor while Quinto’s secondhand books are located in the basement. Francis Edwards is amongst the most respected names in antiquarian books, having been around since 1855, so you can guarantee that it has some very old and very antique tomes in its collection. Additionally, if there’s something you’re looking to get rid of, Quinto will probably be willing to take it off your hands and give you some extra spending cash.
While now owned by Waterstones, Hatchards is quite possibly the oldest bookshop in the United Kingdom. John Hatchard founded it in 1797 and today under Waterstones’ management it has all the selection of a big box store while retaining the charm of an age-old booksellers. Hatchards has a more modern location at St. Pancras Station, but it’s the main store in Piccadilly that you’ll want to visit for its lovely historic interior. Additionally, Hatchards has the Windsor seal of approval with its Royal Warrant to provide books to the British Royal Family.
Yes, it is a chain bookshop, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. Quite the opposite, in fact. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at any of our shops mentioned above, there’s a good chance you can get it at Waterstones or have it ordered. Much like Barnes and Nobles in the States, it’s good a friendly, clean atmosphere and unlike any other Waterstones, it has one of the best views out the front doors, from which you can see Westminster Cathedral.