Are you coming to London?

Do you wish to discover some of the hidden gems of the city?

Undoubtedly, London is a city of many secrets. From unsolved mysteries that inspire tourists to visit the city to cult places everyone wishes to see.

Yet, there is also a number of places that only a selected few know about, yet for them they are an absolute must-see on each visit to the city.

One type of those are small, independent bookstores. In spite of the crisis on the publishing market, London is bustling with those, often tiny, stores. Each has its own unique atmosphere, from esoteric interiors and small coffee shops to built in kitchens. Many are heavily specialist, and all of them are highly recommended to see as there are no bookstores like that anywhere else in the world.

If you love literature, love going through stacks of books in a silent room and having a hushed conversation with a stranger about your favourite subject, these are the places you simply must visit.

Arthur Probsthain 

Arthur Probsthain is a true book browsers delight. This family-run bookstore first opened its doors in 1903 and has been offering literally thousands of books. Quite recently the bookstore opened its new addition, a small art gallery at the back. Oh, and did I mention a lovely little tea shop in the basement offering you a warm drink and something to eat as well?


Bookmarks focuses on a particular topic: socialism. Once inside you can find more than a hundred thousand titles on politics, Marxism, trade unions, labour and more. Moreover, Bookmarks holds regular author events, music concerts and has branched out into publishing with their pamphlets and books.

The Camden Lock Bookstore

If you are a photographer, be it a pro or a passionate amateur, then Camden Lock Books is a must visit. This bookstore specialises in books and publications by and for photographers and in fact, in spite of being an independent retailer, Camden Lock Books is the largest of such stores in Britain. Just like Bookmarks, Camden Lock Books holds occasional events and meetings with London authors.

Cinema Store

The Cinema Store, as the name suggests is a true film buff’s delight. Located near West End and Soho, the Cinema Store offers books on film, cinema, its history, various aspects of technical production and other industry publications.

One of the specialist topics the Cinema Store carries is horror. The store not only offers books on the subject but also offers a wide range of collector items, publications, DVDs and a large selection of memorabilia, posters, action figures and more.

Gay’s the Word

London is a city of almost absolute acceptance towards anything really, thus a bookstore dedicated to lesbian, gay and transgender literature should come as no surprise.

Throughout its history so far, Gay’s the Word has also welcomed some prominent guests. Allen Ginsburgh read his books there, and renowned writer Allan Hollinghurst has been one of the recent guests.

Watkins Books

Watkins Books is a true delight for anyone interested in esoteric, zen, astrology, occult and more. Opened over 100 years ago, Watkins Books is Britain’s oldest bookstores specialising in such literature. Over 30 thousands titles are currently offered, amongst them many first and signed editions.

Children’s Bookshop

Aptly named, the Children’s Bookshop is the oldest kid’s bookstore in the country. Set up 39 years ago, it holds over 25,000 titles for children of all ages. The store also organises kid’s story days and a children’s book club.

Books for Cooks

Imagine walking into a culinary bookstore and the first thing you notice is a smell of freshly cooked food. Too far fetched? Not really. You see, Books for Cooks is not your ordinary culinary bookstore. Apart from books they also have a small kitchen at the back where they test the recipes from titles they sell. And they sell plenty of those. With a selection of over 8 thousands titles on anything from nutrition, chemistry to recipes and cooking books, the Books for Cooks is one of the largest, yet still small and independent, culinary bookstore in Britain.

This guest post was written by Thomas, a travel writer and wannabe musician, currently working for Staycity London, a leading serviced apartments provider in the city.

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

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