The fourth destination in my list of Five Things To See In London If You Are A Book Worm is Daunt Books. It was opened in 1990 by James Daunt in the Edwardian premises at 83 Marylebone High Street in London, originally built for antiquarian bookseller Francis Edwards in 1910.
The book store doubled in size a few years later, expanding to 84 Marylebone High Street, offering a wider selection of children’s books, cookery and art, and by the end of the 1990’s, two further shops had been opened in North London – at Haverstock Hill, in Belsize Park, and South End Road in Hampstead (according to their official site).
The main purpose of the library is to arrange the books principally by country, whatever the nature of the book – fiction or non-fiction, biography, history, guide or novel – and in so doing creating wonderful browsing both for the traveller and the general reader.
The library is hosted in a former Edwardian bookshop that is alleged to be the first custom-built bookshop in the world.
An interesting fact is that they created the Daunt Books canvas tote bags that are now pretty famous in London. While there, I think I have seen at least three persons carrying a Daunt Books bag, and in areas that are not very close to the bookshop itself.
Daunt Books also organises periodic book related talks and events open to the public, that you can assist for a small assisting fee. I had the surprise of finding on their site and event for A Gentleman In Moscow, a book I read some time ago and which I enjoyed a lot (maybe one of the best books I read recently).
The bookshop offers book bundles from different collections like fiction, crime, travel or history, as well as memoirs and young adult. Also, if you are in the search for a present, you can acquire gift certificates with values between 10 and 200 pounds, that can be used for any product in the bookstore, but unfortunately not online.
Another useful service that Daunt Books offers is the subscription. The buyer can choose a first book to subscribe and, based on the discution with a curator, he will receive a wrapped new book every month.
One huge advantage that I found at this bookshop is that the books are sorted by country. I was with a friend in the bookshop, and he was looking for a book written by a Chinese guy. The book is called Romance of the three kingdoms and it is pretty hard to find, being very expensive in Romania. So imagine ourselves entering a bunch of libraries in which we searched for that specific book between hundreds others. It was like mission imposible. Even though we got indication over the approximate shelf where we could find it, it was still so damn hard as there were so many titles. And then we reached Daunt Books and there it was, sitting there quiet waiting for us to find it. It was a nice surprise.
Another thing that I liked about the bookshop was the personnel. Even though the library was so crowded, they actually found some time to offer me some book recommendations I asked for, so I was able to find the perfect present for my friends in no time.
Oh and how could I forget the aspect of the book shop? The first floor at least is amazing. It has two wodden corridors on each side, leaving the middle empty, so you can admire the ground floor. The hall is illuminated by some green chandeliers, which unfortunately I couldn’t see lit. I imagine they offer an amazing atmosphere in the evening. The hall ends with a white arcade window, which seemed to me to be a mix between Victorian and Edwardian styles. The ceiling is also made of glass, so all the solar light enters the book shop. I love light, and even more lighted rooms. For me it was like heaven. Daunt books is by far my favorite bookish place in London, concerning aspect. I left with a bit of sadness as I knew it will pass pretty much time until I will be able to see it again. Oh, and how could I forget? There were flowers at the reception, which only made my experience even better than it was.
Overall, Daunt Books offered me an absolutely heavenly experience which I would definitely repeat.
If you want to give it a try, you can find the bookshop at 84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4QW, or at the other locations that can be found on their site. The Marylebone High St. store, which I visited, is open every day from 9:00 to 19:30, except on Sundays when they are open between 11:00 and 18:00.
The following transportation means can be used to get to the library
The nearest stations to Daunt Books are:
- Harley Street, Marylebone is 385 meters away, 6 minutes walk.
- Harley Street, Marylebone is 395 meters away, 6 minutes walk.
- Baker Street Station, Baker Street is 466 meters away, 7 minutes walk.
- Blandford Street, Marylebone is 467 meters away, 7 minutes walk.
- George Street is 559 meters away, 8 minutes walk.
Bus lines near Daunt Books: 113, 18, 2, 205, 27, 453
Train lines near Daunt Books: CHILTERN RAILWAY, OVERGROUND
Underground lines near Daunt Books: CENTRAL, CIRCLE, JUBILEE, METROPOLITAN
I haven’t found information regarding bycycle spots, and I also haven’t seen any close to the library, but maybe I have missed something, so you can just call them and ask about it. They should know about this stuff.
In the end, I will leave you with some pictures I took during my visit, and hopefully they will inspire you.
© picnicontheshelf, September 19, 2019