• 2023.11.29
  • Grabbing a book and fighting the rain.
I love reading and I love filling the shelves of my home with books.
Living in London, my choice of bookshops is almost endless.
Bookshops are magical places in which to get lost and explore the knowledge of the centuries.
I'm not a fan of e-books and, although I certainly don't deny how practical they are, I think paper books have an unbeatable charm.
I love books so I love the places that host them and my first choice is the Waterstone’s chain.
Their flagship store in Piccadilly comprises a six-storey building making it the largest bookshop in Europe.
The store is said to contain more than 200,000 volumes and the place is a must visit.

I have been there on more than one occasion of course and I can confirm it has all the characteristics of a classic Waterstone’s bookshop, on a larger scale.
The entire lower floor is dedicated to the travel section, the ground floor is stocked with bestsellers, the first floor is stocked with a variety of first edition books and biographies, the third floor is devoted to architecture, art, food and horticulture, and the fourth floor is devoted to books on history, politics, language, religion and business.
And the other two floors?
The second is dedicated almost entirely to children's books while on the fifth there is a beautiful cafe overlooking the roofs of Piccadilly, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
Among other things, Waterstone’s also has its own line of coffee shops, Cafe W, which resides in many of its bookshops.
At the Piccadilly location they even have two cafes: a take out cafe for coffee on the go on the ground floor and one on the mezzanine floor, for a drink at the table to be enjoyed while reading a book.
Yes, even before buying it!
Inside Waterstone’s Piccadilly we even find a bookshop within a bookshop: The Russian Bookshop, located on the fourth floor where you can find thousands of volumes in Russian sold by native speaking staff.
There is a similar thing for Italian books too inside a bookstore in Gloucester Road.
The building that today houses Waterstone’s Piccadilly was built to house the enormous clothing line of the tailoring company Simpsons and DAKS which had opened in 1936.
Its design incorporated all the canons of Art Deco with influences from the modernist, futurist and cubist styles.
Even today you can still see some of the original architectural elements inside.
Another small book store I really enjoy is the Daunt books shop which is probably the most photographed one in London and it represents an unmissable stop for bibliophiles.
The Edwardian building in which it is housed is particularly fascinating as it is spread over three floors and is characterized by wooden shelves and beautiful windows that illuminate the rooms with natural light.
The bookshop specializes in travel books that are not only guide books but also short stories, language books, memoirs and history readings.
At Piccadilly, I also enjoy Hatchards, founded in 1797, which is the oldest bookshop in London.
Its moss green exterior with curved windows and wooden frames is pleasantly Dickensian style.
Inside, a royal coat of arms behind the counter reminds customers that the Queen used to supply her library in this shop.
The interiors are spread over several floors connected by a spectacular wooden staircase and on a drizzly day, Hatchards is one of the most pleasant places in Piccadilly to escape, leaving the puddles and traffic noise behind.
In London there are many cafes where to read a book for hours and nobody will bother you or encourage you to leave.
In those gloomy rainy days it’s great to just visit a shop and have a cup of tea or coffee while reading a book, this is a Londoner’s life.


  • GianFranco Belloli
  • AgeMouse(NEZUMI)
  • GenderMale
  • Jobblogger/musician

I moved to London over 2 years ago but only last year I started writing for a local newsletter for Expats in London telling about my experience in this big city and giving advice to newcomers. London is a very dynamic city and has a lot for everyone but it’s important to have a local point of view to navigate it without getting lost. Let me be your guide to hidden London!

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