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Explore the city

London’s best reading spots


The best places to read in London nod to its rich literary history, expansive green spaces and handsome buildings. It’s a treat of a place to turn the pages on a brilliant book. Whether you like to read in nature, enjoy a comfy armchair and a slice of cake or fancy being surrounded by books waiting to be picked up, here are the best reading spots in London. 


Phoenix Garden, Soho

A small green oasis in London’s city centre may not be completely silent, but Phoenix Garden is beautiful and has the convenience of being close to Foyles’ flagship bookshop on Charing Cross Road. So, you can pick up a new book and a cuppa and head straight to a cute bench in this much-loved community garden. Phoenix Garden is between Soho and Covent Garden, just off St Giles Passage and Stacey Street. It really is a nice place to read in London, a slice of quiet in the hubbub.


London Review Bookshop, Bloomsbury

The Bloomsbury Group made this part of London a famous literary hub in the early 1900s, and today it is still a creative neighbourhood filled with books. A lovely place to relax with a good book is at the independent London Review Bookshop near the British Museum. As well as its fantastic display of books to browse and buy, it also has an excellent cake shop, so you can stay for a while enjoying fresh coffee and a piece of Victoria sponge as you read. 


The Reading Room at The Wellcome Collection

Sink into a sofa or curl up in an armchair in The Wellcome Collection’s Reading Room. This is a glorious place to read in peace. Flooded with natural light, this space has lots of fascinating objects and artworks on display and a world-class collection of health-related books. It also has a café, but if you’d rather read in near-complete silence, wend your way to the hushed library.


The Barbican, Southbank

While the Barbican Library is a fantastic place to enjoy a good read, we recommend you head to the stunning Conservatory. You need to plan your trip and get your free ticket online (they’re released a month in advance, but there are a few day tickets available daily from 9:30am). In the Conservatory, you sit among the giant tropical foliage and brutalist architecture enjoying the warmth – it’s a really good place to read in London. If you’re feeling peckish, the Barbican’s Cinema Café is also a great place to crack through another chapter or two over a delicious lunch. 


St Dunstan-in-the-East, City of London

Sit among gothic church ruins wrapped in vines and covered in dappled light as you read your favourite book. Built around 1100, St Dunstan-in-the-East was badly damaged in the Great Fire of London, then rebuilt with the help of Sir Christopher Wren. Unfortunately, it was bombed in the London Blitz, and the ruins were eventually turned into a public garden. 


Tucked away between London Bridge and Tower Bridge on St Dunstan’s Hill, this garden amongst the church ruins is usually quite quiet during the week, so it’s a stunning backdrop to read a bestseller. But at the weekend, you may have to share this space with a few Instagrammers keen to capture the drama of this unusual church garden. 


We also have plenty of cosy armchairs, tucked away reading nooks and rooms with deep bathtubs at our luxury hotels, The Clermont, Victoria and The Clermont, Charing Cross. So join us for a book-lover’s escape to London.