Top Five London Bookshop Cafes

Books and cafes.  Two things I love.  Cafe in a bookshop even better.  Here are my favourite top five London bookshop cafes, plus some honourable mentions.

London’s Best Bookshop Cafes

Cafe’s to work in, cafes to read in and cafes to meet with friends. London’s bookshop cafes offer all these things.

London Review Bookshop Cake Shop

They had me at Cake Shop. Lunches are available but it is the cakes that lure me every time at the London Review Bookshop. It is is one of my absolute favourite London cafes full stop. Terry Glover presides over the cafe, where I have eaten many lunches and cakes and enjoyed every single one.  On the bookside the shelves are expertly curated with an appealing mix of the current and gems from the back catalogue.  This is my go to place for coffee when visiting the British Museum just over the road from Bury Place.

Cafe at Foyles

Bookish chat and the sound of keyboards being tapped are the soundtrack at the huge cafe at Foyles.  This is the bookshop cafe that you need to visit if you are in search of a place to work.  Every other table seems to be occupied by someone diligently tapping away at their laptop.  Look carefully and you may see me, tapping away.  There are polite notices on the table asking you to limit your stay to two hours and there are no plug sockets.  Food and drink wise the selection is good and if you fancy a glass of wine or a beer instead of coffee then the cafe is licensed.

  • Cafe at Foyles
  • 107 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0DT
  • Open daily: until 8pm (6pm on Sunday)

Swans Bar at Maison Assouline

coffee cup with gold spoon with a leaf at Maison Assouline Piccadilly
Possible the most beautiful coffee spoon ever at Maison Assouline

Maison Assouline is a temple to the coffee table book.  It is housed in a perfect cube of room on Piccadilly designed by Lutyens and is devoted to selling the luxury books produced by Assouline.  I concede that I have never actually bought a book in Maison Assouline as the luxury books come with luxury price tags.  It is also home to Swans Bar which will serve coffee accessorised with the most beautiful spoon I have ever seen, in the evening they serve cocktails.  Cocktails and books … perfection.

Waterstones Piccadilly

Waterstones Piccadilly is Europe’s biggest bookshop, it also has three cafes and a cocktail bar.  Downstairs in the basement is Emberton’s Cafe open until 7pm every evening it has comfy chairs and tables.  Perfect both for curling up with a good book or tapping away on a laptop.  I like the cakes here but find the lunch offering a bit dull. On the ground floor mezzanine  you will find the Jermyn Street Gallery Café, this is my least favourite of the Waterstones watering holes, just a bit noisy and not very bookish.  Up on the top floor there is the 5th View Bar & Restaurant.  As the name implies you get great rooftop views looking down to Westminster, this is the place to come for lunch with a friend or cocktails.  Happy hour runs from 5pm -8pm when the cocktails are 2 for 1, Mr CW and I have spent many happy hours on Waterstones 5th floor.

Books for Cooks Test Kitchen

If there was a prize for the best smelling book shop in London it would go to Books for Cooks. Tucked away at the back is a test kitchen where recipes from the books that crowd the shelves are tested. It is the perfect spot for a bookish lunch. Unsurprisingly Books for Cooks specialises in books about food. Don’t try visiting on a Sunday or Monday as the shop is shut.  Books for Cooks opens at midday but queues start before that for a table for their reasonably priced no choice menu that changes daily.  They keep on serving until all the food has gone.

One extra super cute bookshop boat with no cafe

So if it has no cafe why am I mentioning it here? Just because …

Word on the Water

Word on the Water book barge
Word on the Water Bookbarge

OK so this is a gratuitous mention of one of my favourite bookshops in the whole wide world.  Word on the Water is a bookshop on a boat and it moves.  There is no cafe.  BUT it does cry out for a picnic after a browse, comparing your bookish finds with your companions.  So sort of, a do it yourself bookshop cafe.  

If you like a cultural cafe check out my guide to London’s Church Cafes and (my specialist subject) London Museum Cafes. For bookish inspiration check out my Best Books for 2020 and 2020 Summer Reading or if you seeking inspiration for holiday reading how about Books to Read in the ….. Netherlands, Germany, California or simply books to inspire wanderlust.

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