Our Favourite Reading Nooks In London

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 19 months ago
Our Favourite Reading Nooks In London

Here at Londonist, we love a reading nook. A quiet spot to settle down with a good book and a hot drink on a rainy day is something very desirable. We're nice, so we're sharing our favourite spots with you — you have to promise to vacate if we want them though.

We're not just talking specific venues such as libraries, bookshops and cafes, but actual specific seats — that armchair in your local coffee shop that you'd be willing to fight a stranger for, or a sofa or table somewhere that is a little bit different to those surrounding it. This list is very much a work in progress, so add your suggestions to the comments at the bottom.

The turret at Gower Street Waterstones

This was the spot that triggered us into writing this list — a reading nook, in a turret, surrounded by books. Dillons cafe on the ground floor is on hand to provide a regular caffeine supply, so the only real trouble you might run into is the desire to people watch out of those windows instead of concentrating on tome in hand.

Due to its proximity to UCL, this Waterstones — which made it onto our list of the best branches in London — offers more reading and study spaces than your average bookshop. Desks are littered throughout the upper floors, usually occupied by students on a week day — but this spot up on the second floor is our absolute favourite.

Gower Street Waterstones, 82 Gower Street, WC1E 6EQ

Back seat of a heritage Routemaster

We're sure much worse has been done on the back seat of the upper deck than cracking open the latest Agatha Christie. For the full effect though, you'll have to board one of the Heritage Routemasters, which run between Trafalgar Square and Tower Hill. Head up that gorgeous rickety staircase and sit in the seat opposite. Between the staircase and the corner of the bus, you're pretty much wedged into your own world. The only downside is that the journey only lasts around half an hour, then you're turfed off and left to wait on the pavement for the return journey.

Lyceum Tavern, Covent Garden

The area around Strand and Covent Garden may not be an obvious choice for a peaceful retreat, but if you time it just right, you may be able to slip right into one of the olde worlde booths at this pub and not emerge for an entire afternoon — except for top-up trips to the bar, of course.

Lyceum Tavern, 354 Strand, WC2R 0HS

The sofa in Hatchards, Piccadilly

Photo: Londonist

It's not the cosiest or most private of nooks, but if you want to read surrounded by books, you could do a lot worse than the sofa on the first floor in Hatchards. It's a regal beast, its worn fabric suggesting you'll be following in the foot (butt) steps of many readers before you.

Hatchards, 187 Piccadilly, W1J 9LE.

Stanfords Coffee House, Covent Garden

Photo: Londonist

We may no secret of our love for Stanfords travel bookshop on Long Acre, nor or its cosy cafe which serves up a delicious hot chocolate. The whole cafe only has six tables, yet it never feels stressful or overcrowded.

Last time we visited, that sinkable sofa had been removed, but no matter; our favourite seat here is the one in the very corner, requiring a sharp left as you enter through the shop's back door. We spend many an hour tucked away round there, alternating between reading our newest purchase and watching customers come and go.

Stanfords, 12-14 Long Acre, Covent Garden, WC2E 9LP.

Leather armchairs at You Don't Bring Me Flowers, Hither Green

Photo: Londonist

If you want to read somewhere that feels a lot like your granny's living room, head out to Hither Green, step into You Don't Bring Me Flowers, and head upstairs. The flower shop/florist has a wonderfully kitsch vibe going on, and if you can bag yourself a spot on one of those low leather armchairs, all the better. There are only a couple of tables upstairs, so there's not much chance people disturbing your flow. The patio area looks petite and private too, but we've never been on a warm enough day to test it out — and we don't reckon those metal chairs are made for a few solid hours of reading.

Photo: Londonist

You Don't Bring Me Flowers, 15 Staplehurst Road, Hither Green, SE13 5ND.

Know of any other fantastic seats or spots in London where you could curl up for a few hours with a good book? Let us know in the comments. We won't steal your seat (probably).

Last Updated 26 January 2018