We've made no secret of our love for Waterstones Piccadilly. It's London's biggest bookshop with one heck of a view from the top floor cafe, another bookshop inside it and a gargantuan events schedule. But as all keen bookworms know, London has plenty of other Waterstones branches (more than we thought, if we're being honest — more than 30 in the Greater London area). This lot are worth a visit if you haven't been already.
Waterstones Gower Street
Waterstones Gower Street is a very close second to the gargantuan Piccadilly branch as far as we're concerned. Every time we visit, there seems to be a sale trolley lingering near the door full of bookish bargains to be had (which we always do).
If you've never taken the time to fully explore, you might be surprised to learn it takes up five floors in total. Down in the basement you'll find rare books and an art gallery — as well as this arch leading to further bargains; bargains of the antiquarian kind:
Oh, and that building. It's a stunner. If, like us, you go weak at the knees for a turret, you'll be overjoyed to know that there's a reading nook in one of the turrets.
Did we mention there are arches made of books — actual books? The whole place is full of bookish whimsy and back staircases, hidden rooms and a till manned by skeletons.
It was the original Dillons bookshop, a name now used for the ground floor coffee shop.
Waterstones Gower Street, 82 Gower Street, WC1E 6EQ
From the outside, this is a regular Waterstones, a modern, red brick building on the pedestrianised high street. Surprisingly though, it's not as modern as it looks, having previously housed department store Shinners, and then Woolworths.
Inside it's pretty standard Waterstones fodder, the Café W being the highlight. Yes, we know, almost every Waterstones has a Café W these days, but this branch had the honour of being the first one. If you follow the Waterstones Sutton Twitter account, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's all about the food here — we promise there are books too. However, as the store is towards the end of the high street — and the cafe upstairs — it can be a lot less busy than the other cafes in the area — and it's a great people-watching spot.
Waterstones Sutton, 71-81 High Street, SM1 1ES
Islington's Waterstones is set back from the road, overlooking Islington Green. If you've ever taken the time to look at the building from across the green, you'll have noticed its grandeur (and blue plaque). It used to be Collins' Music Hall, the façade surviving (although modified) from those days.
Inside though, the main attraction is the fish. That's right, Waterstones has a fish tank, with two fishy residents keeping an eye on proceedings in the kids' section:
Waterstones Islington, 11 Islington Green, N1 2XH
If you've got kids, you need to know about Waterstones in Bromley. As well as a whole floor dedicated to younger readers, it's got one of the best line-ups of kids' events that we've seen, including regular kids and teen book clubs (less wine than a regular book club, we imagine).
Best of all for young readers, is the giant red and white rocket in the centre of the children's floor, based on Tintin's rocket. Who doesn't love a giant rocket?
Waterstones Bromley, 100 The Glades Shopping Centre, BR1 1DJ
Waterstones Greenwich is one of our favourite places to head on a wintery Sunday afternoon. After a stroll round the park or through the market, we love to treat ourselves to a new book (the London table is our favourite) and curl up in the upstairs cafe with a slice of cake, getting stuck in. If we can bag a window seat looking down towards the Cutty Sark? Even better.
We've also heard rumours that it has a similar fish tank to the Islington branch, but we've never noticed it ourselves — head to the kids' department for a glimpse of the fishy residents.
Waterstones Greenwich, 51 Greenwich Church Street, SE10 9BL
Waterstones Tottenham Court Road
There's a bar in the basement. Need we say more? Oh, we do? OK. Well, we think of this branch as the 'hipster' Waterstones, all exposed walls and ceiling pipes. Head downstairs (clock the vinyl on the walls) where the books mingle with the booze — or, if you want to be really sensible about it, the coffee. It's open until 9pm six days a week, and feels like a little secret, a rarity so close to Oxford Street. Well, it did until now. Sorry about that.
Waterstones Tottenham Court Road, 19-20 Tottenham Court Road, W1T 1BJ
Waterstones Crouch End
You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but it's absolutely OK to judge a bookshop by its exterior, especially when it's as pretty as this. The Crouch End branch has eschewed the usual black and gold branding for an altogether more nautical vibe. It's bright and airy inside, and often has flowers in vases on the tables — how very Crouch End.
Waterstones Crouch End, 2-4 The Broadway, N8 9SN
Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments.