World Book Day: Charming Independent Bookshops In London To Explore Now

By Daniella Saunders

2 months ago

Explore London's literary treasures

There’s nothing better than whiling away the hours in a cosy bookshop. Luckily, London is home to some of the most unconventional out there. And, thanks to the unruly beast that is TikTok (or, more specifically, #BookTok), it looks like they’re here to stay. In London, start in Camden, Hackney or Richmond – the city’s official independent bookshop hotspots, according to Barratt London. From a literary shop on water (yes, really) to the oldest bookshop in the capital, here are the best independent bookshops in London to explore in 2024, and to support this World Book Day.

Best Independent Bookshops In London

The interior of Daunt Books

Daunt Books, Marylebone

With nine enchanting stores located across the UK, Daunt Books has established itself as a star on the independent bookstore scene. Specialising in travel literature, each store is as character-full and quaint as the other, but the original Edwardian branch in Marylebone is particularly striking – and popular on Instagram – featuring imposing oak galleries, skylights, and the store’s trademark emerald green throughout. Arranged by country rather than genre or alphabet, you’ll find something unexpected if you spend a morning perusing the branch’s beautiful portfolio of books, then stroll the pretty Marylebone Village streets, or head over to The Ivy Cafe Marylebone for a spot of tea whilst you dive into your new book.

Find It: 84 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW.

What’s All The Fuss About Daunt Books?


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BookBar, Highbury

Books and wine? Don’t mind if we do. With its own line of merchandise, ‘Shelf Medicate Prescriptions’, author events and a popular book club, BookBar is expanding the definition of bookshop into a whole experience that’s definitely worth the trip. Peruse the pretty shelves, or sit outside with a glass of wine when the sun shines, cracking the spine of your next favourite book.

Find It: 166 Blackstock Rd, London N5 1HA.

Brick Lane Bookshop, Brick Lane

East London’s cult-followed independent bookshop sits on bustling Brick Lane, with books piling up and tote bags hanging in the front window. Step inside for a gorgeous selection of fiction and non fiction titles, alongside a team of booksellers brimming with recommendations. If you can’t decide what to read next, opt for one of their monthly subscription, delivering bold and innovative new titles right to your door, all from independent publishers.

Find It: 166 Brick Ln, London E1 6RU.


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The L&R Bookshop, Notting Hill

From Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency comes Notting Hill’s cute independent spot, The L&R Bookshop. Subtitled ‘books and other necessities’ (we agree), it has been running since 2009, and stocks a plethora of fiction and non-fiction books across a broad span of genres. With bookish decorations all around, it’s a quaint spot for some literary perusals, with a range of book subscription options to boot.

Find It: 21 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2EU.

New Beacon Books, Finsbury Park

Situated in Finsbury Park, New Beacon Books is a small publishing house and independent bookshop focussing on works by Caribbean, Black British, African and African American authors. Established in 1966, it’s the only business of its kind in the UK – so it’s not one to be missed. Spanning fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, images of famous faces line the walls alongside the seemingly-endless shelves of books to explore.

Find It: 76 Stroud Green Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 3EN.

Gay’s The Word, Bloomsbury

Branded ‘London’s independent LGBT book specialist’, Gay’s the Word is a quirky Saint Pancras bookstore dedicated to providing Londoners and beyond with LGBT+ books and film. More than just your average bookshop, the one-of-a-kind retailer – established in the 70s – has also become a focal point for the LGBT+ community with frequent book readings, signings and weekly discussion groups.

Find It: 66 Marchmont St, London WC1N 1AB.


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London Review Bookshop, Bloomsbury

From the team behind the London Review of Books is one of London’s best (and most famous) independent bookshops, London Review Bookshop. Having opened in 2003, it occupies an aesthetic corner of Bloomsbury right beside the British Museum, with a traditional board outside beckoning guests inside where reams of books (approximately 20,000) await. Extend your visit with tea and coffee, cake or lunch, and crack the spine of your next favourite read.

Find It: 14-16 Bury Pl, London WC1A 2JL.

V&A Bookshop, Knightsbridge

For those who look for their fashion fix within the pages of a book, the V&A is your go-to. Nestled within the museum lies an arts and style-centric bookstore where you’ll find a range of beautiful publications spanning textiles, design, crafts, theatre and more, plus retrospectives of the museum’s most memorable and leading exhibitions including Mary Quant and Tim Walker: Wonderful Things.

Find It: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road SW7 2RL.

Backstory, Balham

In early 2022, Tom Rowley took to Twitter to declare he was done with journalism and ready to pursue his lifelong dream of opening an independent bookshop. Enter: Backstory. Brand new and super cute, this independent bookshop in Balham hosts events and talks and is home to a non-fiction book club.

Find It: 71 Balham High Rd, London SW12 9AP.


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Hatchards, Piccadilly

As independent bookshops in London go, Hatchards is undoubtedly deserving of a place on the must-visit list; it’s London’s oldest bookshop and a holder of three royal warrants. Established by publisher John Hatchard in 1797, the store still retains its unique charm and character today, with its regal deep green exterior, bygone windows and interior memorabilia. You’ll find a wide range of reading material here, from limited edition tales of Peter Rabbit to exclusively signed copies of Rihanna’s visual autobiography.

Find It: 187 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9LE.

Word On The Water, Kings Cross

One of the quirkiest independent bookshops in London, Word on the Water sells an assortment of publications – both new and pre-loved, from classics to contemporary – from the cosy confines of its 100-year-old Dutch barge. As if it couldn’t get any more endearing, the eccentric store also hosts a range of creative literary events, from jazz and poetry readings to book launches and live music on the roof.

Find It: Regent’s Canal Towpath, London N1C 4LW. Check opening times via before visiting.

The Alligator’s Mouth, Richmond

Tear the little ones away from technology and treat them to an afternoon at The Alligator’s Mouth. The delightful children’s bookstore – hailed by Jaqueline Wilson as ‘bright and colourful and friendly’ – is full to the brim with captivating storybooks (including treasured tales like The Tiger Who Came to Tea) and hosts regular author and illustrator visits. Previous guest appearances include author of the How to Train Your Dragon series Cressida Cowell, illustrator Chris Riddell and Jaqueline Wilson herself, to name but a few.

Find It: 2A Church Ct, Richmond TW9 1JL.

Featured image: Daunt Books, Marylebone