London, the bustling capital of England, is a city that has captured the hearts and imaginations of countless literary greats throughout history. From Shakespeare to Dickens, Austen to Woolf, London’s vibrant streets and iconic landmarks have served as inspiration for some of the world’s most beloved works of literature.
In our London Literary Travel Guide, book lovers can go on a literary journey through the winding alleys of London, exploring the places that shaped these famous authors and their stories. Whether you’re an avid reader seeking to walk in the footsteps of your favorite characters or simply looking to discover the city’s rich literary heritage, this guide will lead you on an unforgettable adventure into London’s captivating literary world.
Read Also: Books to Read Before Visiting the U.K.
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Famous Writers Associated With London
London has long been a hub of creativity and literary genius, attracting some of the most renowned writers in history. From William Shakespeare to Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf to J.K. Rowling, the city has played host to an impressive array of famous authors who have left an indelible mark on literature. While there are possible hundreds (thousands?) of writers with ties to London, I’ve narrowed it down to 8 famous British writers that are most often associated with London.
1. Charles Dickens: One of the most celebrated English writers of all time, had a deep connection with the city of London. Born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England, Dickens moved to London at the age of ten and spent most of his life in this bustling metropolis. The city’s vibrant streets and diverse characters greatly influenced his literary works. Famous works by Dickens include “Oliver Twist,” “ Great Expectations,” and “A Tale of Two Cities.”
2. Jane Austen: Jane Austen, the renowned English novelist of the 19th century, had a significant connection to London throughout her life and literary career. While she primarily resided in rural England, her visits to the capital city played an influential role in shaping her writing style and providing inspiration for her novels, such as themes of class distinction, societal norms, and marriage prospects in England’s upper-middle-class society.
The rich tapestry of characters portrayed by Austen reflects the diverse population found within London during that era. Famous works such as “Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensability,” and “Mansfield Park” all illustrate Austen’s connection to the capital city.
3. Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf, one of the most prominent figures in modernist literature, had a deep connection to the vibrant city of London. Born on January 25, 1882, in Kensington, London, she spent the majority of her life within the bustling streets and diverse neighborhoods that make up this historic metropolis. London played a significant role in shaping Woolf’s literary career and influencing her unique writing style.
4. William Shakspeare: Widely regarded as the greatest playwright in English literature, Shakespeare had an indelible connection with the vibrant city of London. His life and works are deeply intertwined with the capital, where he found inspiration, success, and a lasting legacy that continues to shape its cultural landscape today.
Most notably, Shakespeare’s lasting legacy in London is the famed Globe Theatre, but the plays Henry V, King John, and King Richard are all set, at least partially, in London.
5. Mary Shelley: Mary Shelley, the renowned English author, and first science fiction writer, had a deep connection to London throughout her life. Born on August 30, 1797, in Somers Town, London, Mary Shelley grew up in the heart of the city and it greatly influenced her work and personal life.
One of the most significant aspects of Mary Shelley’s connection to London was her relationship with her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft was a prominent feminist writer and philosopher who lived in London and played a crucial role in shaping Mary’s worldview. Mary Shelley’s famous works include “Frankenstein,” “The Last Man,” “Valperga.”
6. Lord Byron: Lord Byron was a renowned poet and influential figure of the Romantic era who was born in London in 1788. He spent much of his early years living at the family estate in Nottinghamshire but returned to London as an adult to become a prominent figure within literary circles in London with the likes of Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.
In his epic poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” which brought him widespread acclaim upon its publication in 1812, Byron extensively describes his experiences wandering through London streets and visiting landmarks like Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Other famous works include: “Don Juan” and “She Walks in Beauty.”
7. E.M. Forster: Born in London in 1879, E.M. Forster spent much of his life exploring and experiencing the various facets of this vibrant metropolis. London not only served as a backdrop for many of his works but also greatly influenced his writing style and themes. Forster’s early years were shaped by the Victorian era, with its rigid social structures and class divisions prevalent in London society.
These influences can be observed in his novels such as “A Room with a View” and “Howards End,” which explore themes of social inequality and individual freedom within the context of Edwardian England.
Forster was also inspired by London’s bustling streets, diverse neighborhoods, iconic landmarks, and rich history. In “A Passage to India,” Forster describes the colonial-era architecture that characterizes parts of London while contrasting it with the exotic landscapes of India.
8. A.A. Milne: Alan Alexander Milne spent his early years in Hampstead, a charming neighborhood in northwest London. Milne attended Westminster School in central London, where he discovered a love for writing and began showcasing his talent through poetry and humorous essays. Milne is known as the creator of the beloved character Winnie-the-Pooh. One of the most significant influences on Winnie-the-Pooh was Ashdown Forest, located just outside of London in East Sussex County.
Read Also: Books to Read Before Visiting the U.K.
Literary Places to Visit in London
London is a city that has long captivated the hearts and minds of literary enthusiasts from around the world. From the cobblestone streets of Dickensian London to the picturesque parks that inspired Virginia Woolf, this vibrant city is teeming with literary history and landmarks waiting to be explored.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Shakespeare or an admirer of contemporary authors like J.K. Rowling, London offers a plethora of literary places to visit that will transport you into the pages of your favorite books. So pack your bags, grab a book, and embark on a journey through time as we uncover some of London’s most iconic literary destinations.
Harry Potter London Locations
No literary tour of London would be complete without mentioning Harry Potter. From filming locations, potential book inspiration, or new things popping up thanks to the series’ popularity, there is no shortage of Harry Potter locations and activities in London.
Read Also: Must-See Harry Potter Locations in London
Some top spots Harry Potter fans need to see are:
King’s Cross Station
King’s Cross Station is possibly the most recognizable Harry Potter location outside of Hogwarts. As Harry’s gateway to the Wizarding World, King’s Cross and Platform 9 ¾ are a must-visit while in London. While Platform 9 ¾ doesn’t exist in real life, and, in fact, Platforms 9 and 10 don’t exist the way they were filmed for the movie (those are Platforms 4 and 5), you can still visit the iconic photo spot outside of the Harry Potter Shop with a sign of Platform 9 ¾ along with a trolley just like Harry’s about halfway through the barrier.
Check out this Harry Potter Tour of London to help maximize your time
Shown in the opening sequence of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Millenium Bridge has long been a symbol of London for Harry Potter movie fans. The bridge crossing the Thames can be found in the City of London, connecting the Tate Modern and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
As seen in the film, the Millenium Bridge is a walking bridge so you can stroll across, take photos on it, or of the Shard, St. Paul’s, the Tower Bridge in the distance, or The Globe Theatre.
Check out this Harry Potter Movie Location Tour
Reptile House-London Zoo
The Reptile House at the London Zoo is a popular spot for Harry Potter fans as it’s featured in both the movies and the books. In the first book, before Harry knows he’s a wizard, he accidentally sets a python loose in the reptile house, resulting in him being punished by his aunt and uncle.
The London Zoo is easy to access from anywhere in London and is actually, close to Baker Street, so if you’re also a Sherlock Holmes fan, you can see the museum at 221b Baker Street
The Reptile House can be found just right of the entrance past the Reptile Kisosk shop. The scene from the movie was filmed inside the reptile house at the enclosure that actually holds a black mamba, though in the movie Harry speaks to a Burmese python.
Standard pricing is £31 for adults and £21.70 for ages 3-15.
Preorder your Zoo tickets Here
This Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Leavesdon is a breathtaking experience that involves sets, props, and costumes from the making of the Harry Potter movies in the location where the movies were primarily shot. If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter movies, this is a no-brainer that you need to visit the location of the movies.
Depsite finishing filming over ten years ago, this tour seems to be evolving daily. Sets, props, and costumes are being expanded, swapped with other collections around the world (like the Studio Tour in Hollywood or Tokyo), or brought out of storage.
Prices start at from £51.50 (adult), Kids 5-15 are £40, Kids 4 and under are free. There are also family packages available at a slight discount.
Set 19 years after the final Harry Potter book/movie, the Cursed Child play is like the 8th Harry Potter story that true Harry Potter fans have been waiting for. After its initial release at the Palace Theatre in the summer of 2016, the Cursed Child has been shown around the world in places like New York, Hamburg, and Tokyo.
But true Potterheads will want to see the play at its original showing at the Palace Theatre in London. From the impressive display of the play’s title outside the entrance to knowing it’s the original location for the play, and all of the special effects that have been catered to the venue.Tickets range from £40 to £160 depending on show date and time and seat selection.
See this combined Walking Tour and Play Tickets for the ultimate Potter experience.
Located in the heart of London, the British Library is a world-renowned institution that houses an impressive collection of literature and historical artifacts. As one of the largest libraries in the world, it serves as a hub for research, education, and cultural exploration.
The British Library is a research library created in 1973. However, the library has been around since 1753 but was part of the British Museum.
With over 170 million items within its vast holdings, The British Library covers a wide range of subjects including books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, sound recordings, and much more. Some highlights include original works by literary giants like Shakespeare and Jane Austen; historical documents such as Magna Carta and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks; ancient religious texts like the Codex Sinaiticus; and contemporary publications across multiple languages.
It’s free to enter the library. You can also enter one of the cafes for drinks and food.
Situated on the banks of the River Thames in London, the historic Globe Theatre has been recreated to transport audiences back to the Elizabethan era and immerse them in the world of Shakespeare.
Built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the original Globe Theatre was a magnificent open-air playhouse. It quickly became one of London’s most prominent venues for performances during Shakespeare’s time. Tragically, it was destroyed by fire in 1613, but the reconstructed Globe Theatre closely resembles its predecessor and serves as an architectural masterpiece.The Globe Theatre continues to captivate audiences with its exceptional productions featuring some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays like “Hamlet,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “Macbeth.”
The Globe also offers guided tours inside the theatre for £25.
Also check out this Shakespeare in London Walking Tour
Sherlock Holmes Museum: 221B Baker Street
Visit the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes and immerse yourself in Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories. Situated in the heart of London, the Sherlocke Holmes Museum is a must-visit for all fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective.
The museum itself is housed within an authentic Georgian townhouse at the infamous 221B Baker Street, carefully restored to recreate the atmosphere and ambiance of Holmes’ era.
As soon as you step through the door, you’ll be transported back to Victorian London, where gas lamps flicker on cobblestone streets and mysteries wait to be solved.
Explore each meticulously recreated room as if stepping into one of Conan Doyle’s stories. The attention to detail is astounding – from Holmes’ study cluttered with books and scientific instruments to Dr. Watson’s bedroom filled with intriguing artifacts. Every corner holds something fascinating that will make your imagination run wild.
One highlight of your visit will undoubtedly be stepping inside Holmes’ iconic study. You can see memoriabilia including his signature deerstalker hat and trusty magnifying glass. Take a moment to sit in his chair by the fireplace or examine his desk covered in cryptic notes – it truly feels like Sherlock himself may walk through the door at any moment. For an even more immersive Holmes experience, try a Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour.
Adult tickets are £16 for adults and £11 for kids 6 to 16 years.
Read Also: Literary Travel Guide to Edinburgh
The Charles Dickens Museum offers a captivating glimpse into the life and times of one of England’s most celebrated literary figures. Located in Bloomsbury, this Georgian townhouse was once home to Charles Dickens and his family from 1837 to 1839. Today, it stands as a testament to his enduring legacy, providing visitors with an immersive experience that brings his works and Victorian-era London to life.
The museum takes you on a journey through time as you explore each room meticulously restored to resemble how it would have been during Dickens’ residence. From the author’s study where he penned timeless classics like “Oliver Twist” and “Nicholas Nickleby,” to the elegant dining room where he entertained guests, every corner is steeped in history.
A highlight for many visitors is seeing the actual writing desk where Dickens created some of literature’s most beloved characters. You can almost imagine him sitting there, lost in thought as he crafted tales filled with vivid imagery and unforgettable personalities.
Open 10AM to 5PM Wednesday to Sunday. The museum is free to enter but guided tours and special events are extra.
The Poet’s Corner-Westminster Abbey
Pay homage to some of Britain’s greatest poets, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Wordsworth, and T.S. Eliot, who are buried or commemorated here. Within the hallowed walls of Westminster Abbey, The Poets’ Corner is a sacred space dedicated to celebrating the literary brilliance and artistic legacy of some of the world’s most renowned poets. This unique corner of the abbey has become an emblematic site for lovers of poetry and literature, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe who seek solace, inspiration, and a connection to the great minds that have shaped our cultural landscape.
Located in the South Transept, The Poets’ Corner owes its name to its long-standing association with revered poets throughout history. It was not until the 18th century that this area began to take shape as a tribute to some of England’s greatest literary figures. The first poet interred here was Geoffrey Chaucer, often regarded as “the father of English literature,” whose Canterbury Tales revolutionized storytelling in verse.
As you step into this enchanting space, you are immediately transported back through time. The grandeur and solemnity exuded by Westminster Abbey contribute to an atmosphere brimming with reverence for the written word. Ornate memorials adorn every available surface—floor stones etched with poetic epitaphs, statues capturing iconic poets mid-thought, plaques bearing verses carved into stone—creating an ambiance that resonates with creativity.
Entry into Westminster Abbey is £27 for adults and £12 for kids 6 to 17. Hours are typicall 9:30AM to 3:30PM but may change unexpectedly.
Read Also: Literary Tour of England
The Bloomsbury district in London is not only known for its picturesque streets and charming squares but also holds a rich literary history that has shaped the world of literature as we know it today. From famous authors, and groundbreaking publishing houses, to influential intellectuals, Bloomsbury has been a hub of creativity and intellectual discourse for centuries.
One of the most prominent literary figures associated with Bloomsbury, and the aptly named Bloomsbury Group, is Virginia Woolf. Along with her husband, Leonard Woolf, she formed the Hogarth Press, which became one of the most important independent publishing houses in England during the early 20th century. The press published notable works by T.S. Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, and E.M. Forster, among others. Virginia Woolf’s own novels like “Mrs Dalloway” and “To The Lighthouse” were set in and around Bloomsbury.
Other notable members of the group include John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, Sir Desmond MacCarthy, and Duncan Grant. J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, was also known to live and work in the area, though he wasn’t always involved in the group.Top places to visit in the Bloomsbury District include the Lamb Pub, The British Library, 31 Russell Square, where Oscar Wilde stayed before moving to Paris, The Dalloway Terrace, and Bloomsbury Squares, where the artists, writers, and philosophers of the time, which included Virginia Woolf of course, would meet.
Located in North London near Highgate, Hampstead Heath is not only a natural haven for those looking for a quick reprieve from the city, but also has a significant literary history. This picturesque landscape served as a muse, inspiring countless writers and poets. One of the most notable figures associated with the Heath is the iconic poet John Keats. Keats lived in Hampstead from 1818 to 1820. He penned some of his most beloved poems like “Ode to Nightingale” and “Ode to Grecian Urn.” Authors A.A. Milne and Evelyn Waugh were also born in the area.
When in Hampstead Heath, make sure to visit:
Keats House, the former home of John Keats now houses a museum.
Check out this Hampstead Heath Walking Tour
Nearby Hampstead Heath is the famous Highgate Cemetery that covers over 37 acres and has more than 53,000 graves. You can find inspiration among the beautiful gravestones where notable authors like Karl Marx, George Eliot, and Christina Rossetti, as well as the wife and family of Charles Dickens rest eternally.
The books Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith both feature Highgate Cemetery.
The cemetery is open 10AM-5PM. Entry is £10 for adults and £6 for children 8-17. You can also book a tour to ensure you don’t miss any detail of this historic cemetery.
In the Fitzrovia area just next to Bloomsbury is the Ftizroy Tavern which holds a rich literary history that has enchanted writers and intellectuals for decades. This iconic pub has been a meeting place for some of the most influential figures in British literature.
Built in 1883, the Fitzroy Tavern was originally named The Hundred Marks when it first opened its doors. However, it was in the early 20th century that the tavern gained recognition as a hub for literary discussions and artistic gatherings. During this time, London’s bohemian community flocked to this pub to exchange ideas and engage in spirited debates. George Orwell, Nina Hamnett, Jacob Epstein, and Augustus John were among the frequent visitors.
Another notable figure associated with the tavern is Dylan Thomas, one of Wales’ greatest poets. Thomas would often frequent the Fitzroy Tavern during his visits to London and even held poetry readings at the venue.
A short walk away from the Shard, Borough Market, and the London Bridge sits The George Inn, Southwark’s historic former coaching tavern. It was virtually demolished by the Great Fire of London in 1666 but was rebuilt in the 1670s.
The pub has some serious literary connections as it was a frequent haunt of Charles Dickens and there are stories that Shakespeare may have visited too, which is plausible due to its proximity to the Globe Theatre.
The quaint cobbled courtyard or the cozy interior are a great place to have a pint and contemplate London’s literary history.
Fleet Street lies a historic pub that has witnessed centuries of literary brilliance. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese claims it’s the most famous pub in the world and has become an iconic landmark for writers and poets, offering an enchanting atmosphere where literary greats once sought inspiration and camaraderie.
Over is 355 years in business, prominent literary figures such as Dr. Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, W.B. Yeats, and Charles Dickens have all been frequent patrons. The pub is even mentioned in Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities.
One particular object of note to see at the pub is the long oak table in The Chop Room where Charles Dickens himself dined over the years.
While you’re in the neighborhood, head around the corner to the 300-year-old restored townhouse that was once Samuel Johnson’s home. With period artifacts and a notable library that includes a 1st edition of the 1738 poem London, you can walk through the halls where Dr. Johnson lived and worked.
Hours 11AM to 5PM, closed Sundays and Mondays. Cost is £9 for adults and £4 for ages 5-17.
Literary Activities in London
London is a city filled with literary history and activities for book lovers. From iconic libraries to famous author haunts, there is no shortage of ways to immerse yourself in the world of literature. Here are some literary activities you can enjoy in London:
Take a Literary Walking Tour
Join a guided walking tour that takes you through London’s literary landmarks. Walk along the footsteps of Charles Dickens in Clerkenwell or explore Bloomsbury, known for its association with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. Here are a few I recommend:
- Harry Potter Tours in London
- Harry Potter Movie Locations Tour
- Sherlock Holme’s Walking Tours
- Literary Pub Tours in London
- Shakespeare London Walking Tour
- Hampstead Heath Walking Tour
Afternoon Tea at The Library, London Marriott
Indulge in a quintessentially British tradition with an elegant twist at The Library, located within the prestigious London Marriott Hotel. This beautifully designed space seamlessly blends contemporary design elements with traditional charm, creating an atmosphere that is both refined and inviting. Adorned with bookshelves filled with literary treasures, plush seating, and soft lighting, it offers the perfect setting to unwind and savor every moment of your afternoon tea.
Choose from a wide selection of teas and enjoy a three-tiered stand adorned with delectable assortments of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and preserves, and an array of exquisite pastries.
Attend Literary Festivals
London hosts several literary festivals throughout the year
- London Book Festival
- Deptford Literature Festival
- Barnes BookFest
- Barnes Children’s Literature Festival
- Queen’s Park Book Festival
- Chiswick Book Festival
- Wimbledon Book Fest
- London Literature Festival-Southbank Centre
Read Also: Literary London Itinerary
Best Bookshops in London
London is a bibliophile’s paradise, home to countless extraordinary chain and independent bookshops. Whether you’re seeking rare first editions, browsing shelves filled with contemporary bestsellers, or simply yearning for the unique ambiance of a quaint bookstore, London has it all. While you could live in London your whole life and probably not visit all of its amazing bookshops, I’ve put together a list of some of the 10 top bookstores that all bookish travelers to London should visit.
An independent bookstore in the heart of Bloomsbury, the London Review Bookshop has become an essential part of London’s cultural life. Browse a wide selection of books or sit in the cafe to have tea or coffee and delicious pastries.
Daunt Books is an independent chain of bookstores in England that originally specialized in travel books. The Marylebone location is inside a former Edwardian bookshop that features long oak galleries, opulent skylights and is worth a visit even if you don’t intend to purchase anything.
New Beacon Books, located in Finsbury Park is an independent bookstore featuring works from Caribbean, Black British, African, and African American authors. For over 50 years, New Beacon Books has been sharing and publishing poetry, literature, non-fiction, history, and children’s books by authors from these communities.
This perfect secondhand bookshop in Brixton is full to the brim with virtually any book you may want. One of the main draws, besides their eclectic book collection, is their shop pets. Previously dogs Leo and Rosa were residents, while now Popeye the cat will greet you as you enter.
Hatchards, the UK’s oldest bookshop, is situated on Piccadilly next to the high-end grocer’s Fortnum & Mason. Hatchards covers five floors and houses over 100,000 books. Though it’s now owned by Waterstones, it definitely doesn’t feel like a chain bookstore. It often attracts high-profile authors and has three royal warrants, which, for those not from the commonwealth, is issued to tradespeople who supply goods or services to a royal court or personages.
This eclectic bookshop around the corner from the British Museum stocks literature and gifts on magic and spiritualism. It also hosts tarot readings and events like history of magic lectures and creative writing workshops.
Set up by Edward Stanford in 1853, this iconic travel bookshop is filled with travel writing, guides, maps, and gifts for all varieties of travelers. While the shop is now located on Mercer Walk, the original location was around the corner in an opulent old building on Long Acre. This location was so well-known at the time that it’s even mentioned in the Holmes novel “Hound of the Baskervilles.”
A truly unique bookshop, Word on the Water is situated on a 100-year-old barge in King’s Cross. New and secondhand books line the shelves of this narrow space and you can chat with an African grey parrot while shopping. They also hold poetry slams or live music nights on the canalside.
Taking inspiration from the Borges story “Library of Babel,” Liberia is a relatively small space filled with mirrors and overflowing bookshelves that give the space an infinite yet cozy feel. There’s no coffee shop or wifi here. Instead, come inside to browse the shelves and get out of the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Opened in 1979, Gay’s the Word became a haven for the gay community and what is now LGBTQ+ literature. Gays’ the Word supplies a huge selection literature well beyond the novels that have hit the mainstream. The vibrant decor holds graphic novels, poetry, history, and more.
While I tried to stick to independent bookstores, there are definitely a few chain stores worth mentioning.
Waterstones on Piccadilly is apparently the largest in Europe. The flagship Foyles on Charing Cross Road has six floors to browse and a cafe to waste time in. While on Charing Cross Road, make sure you wander around to find other amazing independent bookstores to hop into. Southbank Centre Book Market, a collection of book stalls holding a variety of genres, is another must-visit for book lovers.
Read More: Best London Bookshops
Best Bookish Cafes in London
London is a city known for its vibrant literary scene, where bookworms and coffee enthusiasts can find solace in the cozy nooks of bookish cafes. These unique establishments offer the perfect blend of literature and caffeine, creating an inviting atmosphere that caters to both avid readers and casual browsers alike. From hidden gems tucked away in charming neighborhoods to iconic literary landmarks, this article will explore some of the best bookish cafes in London, where you can immerse yourself in captivating stories while sipping on a steaming cup of coffee or tea.
BookBar may be on my list of cafes, but really, it’s more of a bar, as the name suggests. They do serve coffee during the day but is really more known for being a wine bar with evening programs like readings and workshops.
Located in Shoreditch, The Common Press is London’s newest queer, intersectional bookshop. But it’s not just a haven for diverse literature, it’s a fantastic coffee shop where you can savor a nice latte while among the shelves.
Paper & Cup is a social enterprise coffee shop that trains people in recovery for addiction to become baristas. The shop also sells secondhand and vintage items including clothes, homegoods, and of course books.
Another bookstore/coffee shop combination, Vanilla Black Coffee and Books is an elegant and bright bookshop in the heart of Lambeth. Featuring more than just your standard flat white, you can find fresh smoothies, avocado toast with poached eggs, among other tasty treats.
This artsy bar full of rustic wooden tables, overflowing stacks of books, and a laid-back vibe is the perfect place for book lovers and creatives to grab some food and get inspired. Choose something from the Middle Eastern-inspired menu or grab a coffee to sit and chill.
The bookshop Arthur Probsthain didn’t make our list of bookstores but possibly should have. However, their tea room the Tea and Tattle is a traditional-style tea room in the basement that has tea, coffee, sandwiches, cakes, scones, as well as a full afternoon tea.
Read More: Best Cafes in London
Best Bookish Hotels in London
For those seeking an immersive literary experience, there are several remarkable bookish hotels scattered throughout London. These unique accommodations not only offer comfort and luxury but also pay homage to literature in their design and ambiance. Whether you’re a bibliophile looking to curl up with a good book or simply appreciate the charm of literary-themed spaces, these best bookish hotels in London are sure to enchant both your mind and soul.
Hazlitt’s is named after the writer and essayist William Hazlitt, who lived at the adjoining townhouses that were later turned into the hotel. Each room is named after one of his friends, including Gulliver’s Travels author Johnathan Swift. The hotel has become popular with writers who often leave behind signed copies of their works. Apparently, there’s a Harry Potter novel that is too valuable to be left out for show, and Rowling seems to enjoy the Lady Frances Hewitt room when she’s in town.
Beyond the opulent historic rooms, the well-stocked library and equally well-stocked bar are perfect for relaxing with a good book.
Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair has a deep connection to the literary world. With former guests like Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, William Faulkner, J.R.R Tolkien, William Golding, Ben Okri, Arthur C. Clark, and Agatha Christie, this hotel has some serious novelist inspiration within its walls. In fact, Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book in the hotel (and has a suite named after him), and Stephen King started his novel Misery while staying here.
This hotel doesn’t come cheap but staying among literary greatness never does.
Located near Kings Cross and just around the corner from The British Library, the Standard is right in the heart of your literary adventures in London. With a variety of room types to choose from, you’ll find minimalist yet cozy spaces that are perfect for a quick getaway or a long stay.The Library Lounge at the Standard is where the bookishness comes alive.
Once home to the Camden Council Library, this space is now a cozy lounge and book-filled sanctuary. You can choose one of your favorite books off the shelves and sit with a cocktail from their impressive menu or taste some of the small bites. But if you’re coming down here to work, just know they have a no laptop policy after 6PM.
The Georgian House Hotel is a gorgeous hotel made of two adjoining houses near Victoria Station. While you’d have an amazing time staying at The Georgian House, the real reason I recommend this hotel is for the Wizard Experiences they offer.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, The Georgian House Hotel offers an immersive experience that will make you feel like you’ve just stepped into Diagon Alley. The friendly staff, dressed in robes reminiscent of Hogwarts professors will guide you through the check-in process while sharing fascinating stories about the hotel’s magical history.
Each room at The Georgian House Hotel is individually designed with different magical themes inspired by J.K. Rowling’s beloved series. From Gryffindor-inspired chambers adorned with scarlet and gold accents to Hufflepuff hideaways featuring cozy nooks and earthy tones, there’s something for every aspiring witch or wizard.
The Georgian House Hotel offers various activities and experiences that truly bring out your inner magic. Join their interactive potion-making classes where expert “professors” teach guests how to create mystical concoctions using real potions ingredients.
The Cadogan London is not just an opulent hotel but also a literary haven with a rich history. This iconic establishment has played host to many renowned writers, poets, and intellectuals throughout the years, making it a significant landmark in London’s literary scene.
One of its most famous residents was the eminent playwright Oscar Wilde. In fact, Room 118 at The Cadogan holds particular significance as it was where Wilde resided during his infamous arrest in 1895. This historical event marked a turning point not only in Wilde’s life but also for the LGBTQ+ community.
Beyond Oscar Wilde’s association with The Cadogan, numerous other notable literary figures have sought refuge and inspiration here. Writers such as Henry James, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, and Virginia Woolf were among those who found solace within these grand corridors. It is said that Woolf even completed her novel “Mrs Dalloway” while staying at The Cadogan.
In addition to its esteemed guests’ contributions to literature in London, The Cadogan has been featured prominently in various fictional works as well. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used this elegant hotel as the setting for one of Sherlock Holmes’ most intriguing cases – “A Scandal in Bohemia.” This detective story further immortalized The Cadogan’s connection to literature and mystery.
Built in the late 19th century, The Kingsley was originally designed as an elegant Victorian townhouse but was transformed into a hote. It’s named after the author Charles Kingsley who wrote Westward Ho! and The Water Babies.
Over the years, it has hosted countless literary luminaries who sought solace and inspiration within its welcoming confines. Thanks to its proximity to their frequent stomping grounds, The Bloomsbury Group – a collective of English writers, artists, and thinkers – found sanctuary within The Kingsley’s walls. Members such as E.M. Forster and John Maynard Keynes would gather here to exchange ideas and debate philosophical concepts that shaped their works. It’s even said that Forster wrote parts of “A Room with a View” here.
Other hotels in London
I realize the above hotels are not necessarily a budget option. With London being an already expensive city for visit, the prices above may not work for you. Luckily, there are tons of options in the city to choose from. Here are some less expensive option in the city for your literary trip.
- hub by Premier Inn London Goodge Street hotel in Bloomsbury
- Premier Inn London St. Pancras hotel for King’s Cross
- Premier Inn London Southwark (Bankside) near the Millenium Bridge and Globe Theatre
- The Z Hotel Soho near the Theatre District
- Travelodge London Marylebone near Baker Street and the London Zoo
London is a literary lover’s dream, with its rich history and vibrant literary scene. From iconic landmarks that have inspired countless novels to cozy bookshops tucked away in hidden corners of the city, there is no shortage of literary treasures to explore. Whether you are a fan of classic literature or contemporary works, this literary guide to London will help you navigate through the pages of London’s literary landscape. So pack your bags, grab your favorite book, and embark on a journey that will transport you through time and imagination in the enchanting world of London’s literary heritage.
Are you ready for The U.K.?
- Book Your Flights– To find the cheapest flights, flexibility is a must. Some great options are Google Flights for the calendars to find the cheapest options, Skiplagged, and Skyscanner. For more options, see our resources page. Heathrow and Gatwick (London) are the main entry points for long-haul flights but Manchester and Birmingham are options for those coming from Europe. Belfast in Northern Ireland is also an option.
- Find Transportation- If you’re driving, look into Rentalcars.com before arriving to find the best rates. Rail and bus services are frequent and easy. A BritRail pass can help save you money. For convenience, choose a train, for low-price choose buses.
- Book Your Accommodation– Look at Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia for hotels in the U.K. You can also look at AirBnB or VRBO as we’ve had great luck finding inexpensive, large, and clean homes to rent.
- Book Tours and Experiences- Check Viator or Klook for some of the best tours and attractions for a great price for experiences like the Tower of London, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle, or Warner Bros Studio Tour.
- Stay Connected– If your phone’s data plan is going to be expensive, order an eSIM card before you go, or just head to an airport kiosk upon arrival or a store like Tesco or Boots.
- Buy Travel Insurance- I always recommend World Nomads for insurance. It’s better to protect yourself in case of mishaps. Learn more about World Nomads in this FAQ post.
- Pack Your Bags– Check out my packing lists, or my favorite travel gear to help you remember all of the essentials.
- Learn About the U.K.- Learn about the U.K. with guidebooks like Lonely Planet, or, novels and books about the country, or, shameless plug, search around my site for more info.
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