Bookshop-hopping forms as much a part of my holidays as café hopping. I can spend hours sitting on carpeted floors and flipping through books for inspiration. Plus, it’s a legit reason to rest my achy legs after hours of sightseeing and walking! In my recent trip, I exceeded my 20kg luggage limit as I brought back so many books, including pop-up books and a limited-edition Alice in Wonderland book set!
Here are five bookshops which I think are worth popping into when you visit London:
- South Kensington Books
South Kensington Books is an easy pit-stop for families due to the amenities that surround it. It’s a 10-minute stroll away from the National History Museum (which houses a dinosaur exhibition and whale fossils) and is surrounded by family-friendly restaurants and ice-cream shops. This independent bookshop is immediately recognizable by the botanical posters that hang in the shop window. They carry autographed children books, which is great as gifts for true bibliophiles.
Bonus: Next door is a vibrant souvenir store, Medici Gallery, which carries odd trinkets like flamingo toilet brushes, Frida salt & pepper shakers and Queen Elizbeth tea bags.
Address: 22 Thurloe St, Kensington, London SW7 2LT, UK
Phone: +44 20 7589 2916
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10am – 8pm
Tube station: South Kensington, Circle line (yellow) and District line (green), Zone 1
For those who miss Borders, Waterstones is the bookshop for you. I visited two of their outlets by recommendation of a friend and both had almost an entire floor dedicated to children’s books. They have a vast collection of bestsellers like The Gruffalo (more than 20 versions and box sets!) and local English authors. Storytelling sessions, author readings and book signings happen monthly, so check their website for each bookstore’s programme lineup.
Address: Multiple outlets in UK. Covent Garden, 9-13 Garrick Street, London, WC2E 9AU
Phone: +44 020 7836 6757
Opening Hours: Monday 09.00 – 20.00
Tube station: Covent Garden, Piccadily line (dark blue), Zone 1
3. Book Mongers
Book Mongers is a second-hand bookstore that buys and sells books on all sorts of subjects: plays, poetry, travel, politics, cinema. They have a cosy kids’ corner towards the back of the store with an oversized sofa, soft toys and fairy lights. Great for plonking your child whilst you sift through their range of first editions and rare books. Bonus: David Bowie grew up in this neighbourhood, so rock music-loving parents should definitely visit this neighbourhood!
Address: 439 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8LN, UK
Phone: +44 20 7738 4225
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10.30am – 6.30pm
Tube station: Brixton, Victoria Line (light blue), Zone 2
4. Liberia Bookshop
Libreria is a must-visit not just for its books but its internal architecture. Designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano, the cheery yellow shelves are in zigzag waves, doubled by the mirrored ceiling which makes this tiny bookshop appear twice the size and will provide your child with minutes of entertainment. This narrow bookstore manages to squeeze in a tiny nook and arm chair for the children’s section. What’s also unique is how books are arranged horizontally and categoried by broad themes like ‘Wanderlust’, and ‘Enchantment for Disenchanted’, so the adults can encounter titles you might not have come across otherwise. Plus, Shoreditch is my absolute favourite area in London, so please fit this area in your itinerary!
Address: 65 Hanbury St, London E1 5JP, UK
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm
Overground station: Shoreditch High Street, overground line (orange), Zone 1
5. Tate Modern Museum Shop
This is likely not going to show up in most bookshop list, but it’s a must in mine! Museum shops don’t carry the usual suspects and are instead a great source for unusual children books. I found amazing art-based activity books which encourage scribbling, drawing and colouring at the Tate Modern museum store. A great way to introduce your child to art is through books about artists lives filled with their art, which can be found aplenty here.
There you have it, a bibliophilic snapshot of my recent holiday! Are there any bookshops that you would recommend that are not on this (short) list? I would love to hear your suggestions. Hop over to my Instagram account @PositiveLeePeilin and share in the comments!
Sending you positive vibes,