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Coolest Bookshops in the UK

Coolest Bookshops in the UK

Coolest Bookshops in the UK

Nothing beats a good bookshop.

The atmosphere, the distinctive smell of new and old books, the peace and quiet, and the amusingly-titled sections ('Walthamstow Noir' was once spotted in one particularly forward-thinking East London bookshop).

Despite the onslaught of the internet, the very best bookshops have retained their places at the heart of history, and their communities: here are the 12 coolest literary havens in these fair isles.



187 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LE

We start with an old regal gent of a bookshop: Hatchards of Piccadilly has been in business since 1797 and provides books to the Queen no less - so we imagine Liz got her copy of Fifty Shades from here. In its long and distinguished history, it has served the likes of Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde and Benjamin Disraeli. Hatchards boasts six floors, a wealth of stock - including many signed and special editions - and hosts regular events. Who knows, perhaps the next Wilde is in there right now, getting ready to pen their new opus; pop along and you just might meet them.


Achins Bookshop

Inverkirkaig, Lochinver, Lairg, Sutherland, IV27 4LR

Almost certainly the UK's most remote bookshop, Achins lies 30 miles north of the extremely northern town of Ullapool and 3 miles south of Lochinver, next to the Suilven mountain. They specialise in Scottish works, have artwork and crafts available and you can even have a nice cuppa in the café. If it's scenery, inspiration, outstanding natural beauty and an extremely long drive you want, this is the bookshop for you.


St Ives Bookseller

2 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1AB

Another bookshop in a picturesque setting, this one is at the other end of the country, on a cobbled street in St Ives. Proudly independent and award-winning, it boasts signed books, special events and a wide range of titles. And, best of all, once you've bought your new book, you can read it looking out onto the bay, pasty in hand. Dreamland.


Booka Bookshop

26-28 Church Street, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY11 1TN

Yet another beautiful setting - this time in the great county of Shropshire, this bright and breezy independent bookstore boasts auxiliary sales of coffee and cake, as well as both English and Welsh titles, as befits its geographical position. However, try as we might, we can't avoid the fact that the coolest thing about Booka is its "Book and a Beer Bookclub" - two wonderful things, together in perfect harmony at last.


Daniel Crouch Rare Books

4 Bury Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6AB

The name merely hints at the treasure trove contained within, for Daniel Crouch specialises in "antique atlases, maps, plans, sea charts and voyages dating from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries". Yes, if you ever need a map for that special cartographer in your life, this is the place to go. Embark on your own voyage of discovery and head to St James's immediately.


Silverdell Books

61 Poulton Street, Kirkham, Preston, PR4 2AJ

Where Booka combines books and beer, Silverdell goes for another of life's great pleasures: ice cream, made by one of the shop's owners no less. It boasts a Vanilla Ice Cream Champion title, sells handmade chocolates and doesn't forget the small matter of books too, with lunches and signings-a-plenty. Sir Alex Ferguson visited last year; hopefully he didn't whip out the hairdyer or the 99s would have melted.


Sam Read Books

Broadgate House, Broadgate, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9TA

Yet more beauty: our eyes cannot take it. Sam Read Books boasts an enviable location, slap bang in the middle of the Lake District which is, of course, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ransome and Beatrix Potter territory. Independent since 1887, it's had just 6 owners in its history. We can see the appeal: scenery, walks and books - who would ever leave?


Word Power Books

43 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DB

The Manics sang "libraries gave us power", but they could equally have been referring to bookshops. Reminding us that the written word can do more than provide mere entertainment, Word Power Books is an unashamedly political hub of independent thought, running events and attracting the love of many Scottish authors. If you want to be shown how the pen is mightier than the sword, head down to West Nicolson Street.


Books For Cooks

4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, London W11 1NN

The clue is in the name: this Notting Hill bookshop boasts thousands of cooking titles plus, naturally, a café out the back - boasting a three-course lunch menu - and a kitchen upstairs, complete with cookery lessons. It's not Hugh Grant's dubiously-funded travel bookshop, but it'll do for us.


Ian Allen Bookshop

31 Royal Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AE

If Daniel Crouch is the go-to place for maps, then Ian Allan is your man for railways, transport and military collections. If books aren't enough (and they should be), there's even models and accessories for the dedicated enthusiast. There's actually four branches in the UK, but our favourite lies within the Victorian shopping arcades of Cardiff.


Scarthin Books

The Promenade, Scarthin, Cromford, Derbyshire, DE4 3QF

For a start, it's located in one of the jewels of the British Isles - the Peak District, but that's not the best fact about Scarthins. No, that fact is that they stock the entire range of British Ordnance Survey Maps at 1 to 25,000 and 1 to 50,000. You can keep your Google Maps, you'll never get lost if you know where Scarthins is. If that wasn't enough, it has a variety of rooms stocking new and old books, musical scores a café and - brilliantly - an exhibition of 'curiosities' on the first floor. If that's not cool, we don't know what is. For a full description of their particularly quirky outlook on life, just read the frontpage of their excellent website.


Edinburgh Bookshop

219 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DH

Scottish Independent Bookshop of the Year and UK Children's Bookshop of the Year, the Edinburgh Bookshop has has won more trophies in the first half of 2014 than Manchester City. As well as the usual comprehensive stock and expert staff knowledge, extra events are to be found, including the intriguing-sounding literary speed dating. Find a good book and true love - what more could one ask for from a bookshop?