There are few things better than carving out a leisurely afternoon from one’s hectic schedule to spend perusing the shelves of a bookshop. From the scent of old books, to their gold gilded pages, to the uncracked spines of an unread tale to bookcases stacked high with well-thumbed tomes, few pleasures are quite so inviting as an idle hour spent between the four walls of a bookstore.
Luckily for Londoners, the UK’s capital boasts an alluring collection of Booktopias that fuse so perfectly with the literary history of the city, and in celebration of the stunning new book, Pretty City London, the gorgeous hardback version of Siobhan Ferguson’s famous Instagram account, I’ve teamed up with London-based Siobhan to bring you the capital’s most Intagrammable of bookshops.
When it comes to the capital’s most picturesque of bookish gems, a firm favourite of Siobhan’s is just north of Oxford Circus. Around the corner from Chiltern Street, you’ll find Marylebone High Street, with Daunt Book Store at its heart. Lose an hour or two in this former Edwardian bookshop; its long oak galleries and skylights make it a dream for both photographers and anyone looking for a travel guide.
According to Siobhan, this family-run bookshop has become a real hit on Instagram and it offers would-be visitors enough reason to visit Chiswick alone. Specialising in hard to find, out of print, exquisitely bound and rare books, it’s a must visit for any bookworm. Housed in an 18th century building, it’s the oldest shop on Chiswick High Road, dating from the 1790s. With its original bow window, it is exactly how many book lovers expect an old bookshop to be.
John Sandoe Books
Says Siobhan, of John Sandoes: ‘My first stop in Chelsea is always John Sandoe Bookstore, an institution itself; established in the 1950s, stocked high with literary gems and flooded with light, upstairs and down.’ Not dissimilar to something you’d find in a Dickensian novel, John Sandoe Books has picturesque window boxes blooming with florals, creaky narrow stairs leading up to a second floor of books, and a charming window seat in which to read one’s purchases.
Offering everything from rare to antiquarian to vintage, to modern and beyond, Lloyds of Kew Bookshop is a true treasure trove of books, a stone’s throw from Kew Green. Situated only yards from the Royal Botanic Gardens, this literary gem is the epitome of the quintessential second hand bookshop – lined with floor to ceiling wooden bookshelves and with an original Victorian shop front.
Lamb’s Conduit Street, a partially pedestrianised street tucked away in Bloomsbury, is most certainly a hidden gem; although those in the know will have heard of it as a unique shopping destination, many tourists won’t. Pop into Persephone Books for a browse through lost-classics by little-known female authors. This small shop flooded with natural light to the front is a beautiful place to capture, both inside and out.
Pretty City London by Siobhan Ferguson is available now and published by The History Press.
*** Competition Closed ***
I’ve teamed up with Pretty City London and The History Press to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a copy of Pretty City London. To enter, simply subscribe to my blog here, or if you’re already a subscriber comment below with the name of your favourite bookshop. The winner will be picked at random on Friday, 6th July and contacted by email.