Piccadilly Circus sits high up on the list of must-visit places for London’s tourists, and the area’s bookshops maintain the same appeal through their traditional appeal and exceptional quality. The area is more known for its rare and antiquarian bookstores than its vendors of quick lit, so don’t be surprised if a visit to these shops yield experiences that differ from other areas in the capital.
The Russian Bookstore at Waterstones Piccadilly
In the heart of London you will find a specialist Russian bookstore in Waterstones’ flagship outlet. This is the largest selection of Russian literature and other titles in the language that you will find in the UK, numbering almost 5000. The Slavic outlet opened in 2012 after Waterstones’ owner, Alexander Mamut brought in Daunt Books founder, James Daunt to revamp the brand following his takeover. The outlet has brought a new lease of life to the famed brand and lovers all things Pushkin and Lermontov have benefitted the most.
For tradition in the art of bookselling, go to Hatchard’s. John Hatchard’s shop founded in 1797 is celebrating its 220th birthday in 2017 and with that proudly holds the title of oldest bookseller in the UK. With this rich history comes a deep understanding of the trade and a dedication to providing bibliophiles the best service around. Inside the elegant interior you will find enticing displays that might keep you around long enough to stumble into one of their many book signings, talks and other events.
Tucked away on the Mall, quite unobtrusively is the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Like the wider organisation, the ICA Bookshop supports the mission to understand radical arts and culture. The shop complements the work exhibited in the gallery, shown in the films and enjoyed in the bar.
This isn’t just a bookshop, it’s a lifestyle. Maison Assouline was founded with the ambition of becoming the first luxury brand on culture, something we at Culture Trip definitely can identify with! The nexus of their offering is extraordinary books which are complemented by select lifestyle and interior design items that contribute to the ceremony of culture. They have further expanded and the café-bar that sits within the shop allows you to browse, eat and drink all at the same time. A trifecta of cultural bliss!
Thomas Heneage Art Books specialise in selling art books amidst the many galleries in Mayfair. Founded in 1977, the shop has grown to become the largest art shop in the UK and a prominent voice on a global art trading scale. Thomas Heneage makes a habit of purchasing whole libraries when they become available and in doing so gains access to a wealth of materials simply unavailable elsewhere.
Piccadilly Arcade is a unique shopping experience in itself, it being hard to ignore the shop windows lined with macaroons or luxury jewelry. St James’s Art Books just adds to this luxurious milieu with its very specialist offering. The shop does not sell art books, but artist books, those books designed to be works of art themselves. Selling work from the likes of Matisse and Picasso means that a purchase at St James’s Art Books might not be as accessible as your local charity shop, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting.