As a writer and an avid reader, I seek sanctuary in bookshops on dreary days when some girls hit the bakery or the shoe store. London has a rich literary history and is a haven for book-lovers like me. For all my travel needs there is nothing like browsing the shelves at Daunt Books in Marylebone. Its specialist travel section is not for those seeking easy travel guides. Instead, its shelves boast a wide range of memoirs, travelogues, and informative historical accounts. When I am in the mood for cake, I make a beeline for Books for Cooks in Notting Hill. Every cuisine and culinary technique is covered within the thousands of titles they stack floor to ceiling. And good luck trying to resist the delicious aromas emanating from their test kitchen at the back of the store. Take a cooking class or simply grab a seat at their café-style tables, and sample one of the sweet pies or confections while pouring over an equally delicious recipe description.
In business since 1903, Foyles celebrated both its centenary and winning UK Bookseller of the Year for the second consecutive time in 2013. Its flagship store on Charing Cross Road is a book-lover’s delight: five-stories with sections for every specialism you can think of. Find branches at the Royal Festival Hall and St. Pancras Station, too.
Founded by James Daunt, this small chain has been feeding the souls of literary and non-fiction buffs for years. Fans flock to the travel section of the Marylebone branch, where the Edwardian interior provokes gasps of surprise. Books are housed in oak shelving and bathed in light from the conservatory ceiling and stained-glass window.
Books for Cooks
Discerning cooks know that Notting Hill isn’t merely the location of that Hugh Grant film, but home to a cooks’ paradise. Browse the thousands of books on cookery, inhale the tantalizing aromas wafting from the test kitchen at the back of the store, and contemplate taking a cookery class in the demonstration kitchen upstairs.
Lutyens & Rubinstein
Book aficionados are promised an idiosyncratic experience at Lutyens & Rubinstein. The core stock list comprises books recommended and loved by writers, friends of the founders, and those in publishing. If books weren’t enough, you can also pick up stationery and a literary-inspired scent from CB I Hate Perfume (a note of first-edition Russian and Morroccan bindings; wood polish; smoked black Indian tea).
John Sandoe Books
Bibliophiles make for this shop to run their fingers over the spines of the 25,000 books crammed into the 18th-century building. Previously a poodle grooming joint, John Sandoe Books is a unique literary bookshop that has built a reputation for tracking down rare and out-of-print books on request.