A tube-ride in London will open your eyes as to how many people are reading physical books rather than on their phones or tablets, whether sat down or using a pole to prop themselves up while flicking the pages. This is despite the fear that a few years ago was quite widely felt, that digital publishing would see the end of the physical books. Instead, the print publishing industry still has a healthy, beating heart, with most people admitting they tend to prefer having the pages in their hands rather than seeing words on a screen.
One thing that has become increasingly difficult for booksellers, though, is the age of digital shopping. So, indeed, while people are still wanting physical books, they are ordering them electronically and as a consequence, putting a lot of strain on independent bookshops. Anyone who has stepped foot in the following bookshops will understand what a tragedy the end of physical book shopping would be – they have such spirit and soul. So, the next time you need to buy a holiday-read for your trip using The Montcalm Club Loyalty Program, head to one of these fabulous independent bookshops in London and give the magic-makers behind the literary scene the support and love that they deserve.
Brick Lane Bookshop
Brick Lane is a pillar of culture in London, famous for its bustling market, dreamy foody smells and cheeky east end charm – not to mention the opportunities for retro clothes-shopping. The Brick Lane Bookshop would be worth visiting in its own right, even if it wasn’t surrounded by one of London’s most iconic markets – so the fact that it is right in the middle of the street leaves no flicker of a doubt about whether you plan on taking a book home from within its loving literary walls. Previously, it was called Eastside Books, until a couple of years ago when it incorporated its iconic location into its name – it has been around for thirty years, so it is safe to say they are masters of their trade.
Address: 166 Brick Ln, London E1 6RU
Goldsboro Books sits on Bookseller’s Row – the fond nickname given to Cecil Court, a little side road in Covent Garden that has exclusively bookshops on it. In fact, rumour has it that this row is one of a couple of inspirational factors to JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley in her bestselling Harry Potter series, probably owing to what used to be its cobblestone-chic before it was renovated. The entire road is worth a visit, whether you are a map enthusiast or looking for collectibles. However, Goldsboro Books is particularly special and is run by a team so passionate about books you will come out both book-laden, and life-inspired.
This quaint but punchy bookshop in Spitalfields really embodies the soul of the world of books – the feeling of comfort is pretty instantaneous on arrival. The shelves here aren’t organised in a traditional alphabetical order, or even by specific genres. Instead, they are arranged according to broad, somewhat philosophical themes like ‘Wanderlust’, ‘Enchantment for Disenchanted’ and ‘The City’. So, this is the perfect place to go if you have no idea what you want to read, but have a pretty good idea of how you want that book to make you feel. They are all about moving away from algorithms and the structures (like painfully specific categorisation, or boring categorisation like alphabetical order) and opening people’s minds to things they may never have picked up if they hadn’t stepped foot in this little bookshop.
Address: 65 Hanbury St, Spitalfields, London E1 5JP
Shortlister from the British Book Awards 2017 Independent Bookshop of the Year and one of the most wholesome independent bookshops in the city, located south in West Dulwich, you will find this gem of a store committing everything they have to ensuring its visitors get a unique and enlightening literary experience. If you thought M By Montcalm Spa was relaxing, just wait until you are in this quirky little space, surrounded by fictitious worlds of love, laughter, fear and happy endings. Those partial to a hotel Loyalty Rewards Program will be thrilled to know that Dulwich Books runs one of their own – every £10 you spend in the bookshop, you get a stamp. When the card is full of stamps, you are given £5 off your next purchase. As if you needed more motivation to support indie-bookshops, here is another reason.
Address: 6 Croxted Rd, West Dulwich, London SE21 8SW
South Kensington Books
Easy to find as it is right around the corner once you hop off the tube at South Kensington Station, South Kensington Books is the kind of place people end up forming little queues inside of so that everyone gets a chance to marvel at the quaint interior. They are about maintaining a bespoke feel, unrivalled quality and most importantly, keeping the prices affordable so that you are never tempted to browse the online mega-stores instead of pursuing their little literary outpost. They have a Book of the Week every week, selected by their well-read, passionate bookie-staff members – so if you aren’t quite sure what you are looking to read, why not go with their weekly pick?
Address: 22 Thurloe St, South Kensington, London SW7 2LT
Whether or not you need a book in London isn’t something you should spend too much time thinking about – the answer is always yes. Any frequent visitor to London knows both how fleeting the underground WiFi network is and therefore how untrustworthy your phone is as a means of in-situ entertainment, as well as how often you find yourself in transit in this bustling city. In other words, the perfect times to be turning some pages. So, make sure you are always prepared for this by stocking up your luggage with books from these quirky, eclectic, character-filled bookshops.