There’s nothing I love more than independent bookstores. And while I don’t think London has enough compared to New York, there are still a few dotted around the city that are worth browsing.
Some on this list are quite famous, but others are lesser known and quieter which makes for an enjoyable browse on a weekend morning.
If you ever find yourself in New York, you can see me wander around the city and browse my favourite stores in one of my latest YouTube videos here.
But for now, see my favourite bookstores in London below.
1. Daunt Books
This bookstore is most famous for its layout. With an upstairs balcony that overlooks the ground floor, it makes for a lot of aesthetically pleasing Instagram photos.
They also sell the famous green tote bag that you’ll probably see around the city almost as much as a Trader Joes tote bag in New York.
Located in Marylebone, it’s a very nice store to browse, but do be warned that it’s very popular and often very busy for a very small space.
2. The Notting Hill Bookshop
One of the most famous areas in London is Notting Hill and you’ll luckily find quite a few independent bookstores dotted around this area with the Notting Hill Bookshop located just off Portobello Road.
It’s an incredibly small store with a lot of footfall, so prepare to cramp yourself into its small aisles when popping in for a browse.
Saying that, it’s one of my favourite shops to pop into while I’m in the area on a weekend and I’ve picked up a book or two in the past along with a tote bag.
3. Brick Lane Bookshop
Located directly on Brick Lane, the Brick Lane Bookshop is another small space for book lovers to browse when strolling around Brick Lane Market on a Saturday morning.
I think I browse here a lot more than I buy due to it being very small and cramped, but it’s still worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Shoreditch.
4. Word on the Water
One of my favourite independent bookstores (if you can even call it a ‘store’) is Word on the Water. Why is it called Word on the Water you ask? Because it’s a barge.
Yes, you read that right. This is a barge along the canals beside Coal Drops Yard and the books are displayed on top of the barge, and you can also go directly inside to find some more great books on the actual boat itself.
It’s a novelty for sure, but it often has a great collection of second hand books for a reduced price and I’ve purchased a book each time I’ve visited.
5. Primrose Hill Books
You can tell that the bookstores in London aren’t often too creative when it comes to shop names. Notting Hill Bookshop (in Notting Hill), Brick Lane Bookshop (on Brick Lane) and Primrose Hill Books in – you guessed it – Primrose Hill.
Primrose Hill is a very posh and lovely area of London, perfect for a stroll on a crisp Sunday morning to grab a coffee and a pastry and take in the London skyline on top of the hill in Regent’s Park, but also to stop by Primrose Hill Books.
Another small store, but often very quiet on a weekend, I love to pop by and browse here when I’m in the area. They also always have a few stands of books outside the shop with second-hand books to browse too which I can spend a half an hour or so doing.
6. Lutyens & Rubinstein
One of the prettiest bookshops in London, Lutyens & Rubinstein is located in Notting Hill, just behind Portobello Road.
As well as selling books, it also has an array of stationary supplies and of course, the classic bookstore tote bag. Definitely one to pop into if only to see the floating books above your head as you browse.
Located on a side street off of Brick Lane in Shoreditch, you’ll find Libreria. A relatively small bookstore that looks very large until you realise there’s a floor to ceiling mirror and you’re about to walk smack, bang into your own reflection.
There isn’t a huge selection but it’s carefully curated for literary fiction fans and if you’re after a specific niche. However, you definitely won’t find any Colleen Hoover books or TikTok famous books in here.
Claiming to be the UK’s oldest bookshop, you’ll find Hatchards in the centre of London right next to Fortnum and Mason.
This is another one of my favourite independent bookstores in London as it reminds me of a bookshop I used to visit in Donegal every summer, the Four Masters Bookshop. The carpeted floors, the dark oak, and the separate rooms for different genres.