Best Bookshops in the UK
“If I’m ever stranded I hope its in a bookstore”
The cramped yet cozy feeling of being surrounded by books always stirs a sense of home in me. Stepping through those creaky, heavy doors, a washed by the aroma of mold and old memories in intoxicating. I could spend hours in new and especially second-hand bookshops. Welcomed in by cheap deals and the history behind every book, each having their own stories within its pages and in their past. Who has devoured those words? Where has the book been? And what tales could it tell if it had its own voice? If it isn’t obvious, I adore bookshops both old and new and wherever I travel I always seek out bookshops. Last summer while travelling overseas, I made every effort to seek out the best bookshops in the UK and Europe. The following are my top five picks for the best UK bookshops.
Hatchards – London, England
A list of the best UK bookshops would not be complete without naming London’s oldest bookshop, Hatchards, which was established in 1797. Located in the heart of the city, at 187 Piccadilly, you can’t miss its green awnings and classic store front. As soon as I entered I was immediately drawn to the table displays with humorous signs like the one above. Spanning five beautifully laid out floors with a stunning and original wood railing staircase you could easily spend hours browsing its selection. I was charmed while looking at the various black and white photos hung along its walls showing Hatchards store through the ages.
My favourite spot was home to a cozy sofa sitting in front of a window overlooking London’s streets. I could gladly cozy up there to peruse a book or simply soak in the rich smell of books and knowledge.
Minster Gate Bookshop – York, England
In the shadow of the grand York Minster lies Minster Gate Bookshop. Approaching, you’re drawn in to browse the books set out before its store front. Across four floors and seven rooms you’ll discover a plethora of second-hand books, old maps, prints and engravings with its small, cramped rooms and narrow passageways. If you’re looking for something specific they have a bookshop key, a list of the rooms, subjects and where to find that special book. My favourite rooms were the tiny map room with boxes filled with maps, old and new, stirring my wanderlust and the bargain basement which is home to books for under £4.
Beware of the Leopard Books – Bristol, England
Located in the heart of St. Nicholas Market in Bristol’s city centre you’ll find Beware of the Leopard Books, a second-hand bookshop. Taking up two stalls with boxes of books spilling out of its walls Beware of the Leopard Books is a special beast. In its chaos the books are actually organized with one stall dedicated to fiction and the other non-fiction and than in subject. It’s one of those second-hand bookshops you’re bound to find a gem in.
Armchair Books – Edinburgh, Scotland
Located in Edinburgh’s historic Grassmarket area you’ll discover a plethora of awesome second-hand bookshops including Armchair Books. Before you even enter you can delve into their boxes of books sitting out front but pace yourself for as soon as you enter its narrow rooms you’ll be surrounded by books stacked to the ceilings of all sorts – plenty of vintage classic with beautiful colourful bindings.
Word on the Water – London, England
Word on the Water is definitely one of the best UK bookshops for its uniqueness and character. Set on an old Dutch boat and seems to be ever moving along London’s canals, (For up-to-date location check out their Facebook page) it is an attraction in and of itself as books balanced on makeshift shelves outdoors and within. You’re welcomed into its cozy atmosphere as you bob on the water while browsing its great selection, much of which is London focused.
What do you think are the best UK bookshops?