London Travel Guide

The 9 Best Bookshops and Bookstores in Notting Hill

PHOTO: pql89/iStock Editorial

We’ve collected a few of our favorite bookshops and bookstores in Notting Hill.

Home to numerous literary agencies, published authors, and muse to a great range of both fiction and non-fiction over the years, Notting Hill has a solid literary tradition that visitors will find summed up in the neighborhood’s eclectic collection of bookshops. From chic salons to movie-famous stores to second-hand shops, there’s a little something for everyone.

Books for Cooks

If you’re the type to prolifically bookmark your favorite recipes in cookbooks, then you’ll appreciate Books for Cooks. Dedicated to all things gastronomic, the sheer range of cookbooks on sale offers mind-blowing collections of cuisines from all over the world. You want Italian? Of course, they have it. You need Szechuan? They have that, too. In addition to the charming space, which is truly a place you could while away the hours planning your next dinner party menu, the shop has an on-site restaurant that serves new recipes from books sourced from the shop every day. If that isn’t the sweetest thing, then who knows what is.

Notting Hill Book and Comic Exchange

Not only is the Notting Hill Book and Comic Exchange a gloriously eccentric store with rows and rows of second-hand comics, books, and rarities, it’s the place that reminds you most of the inherent romance in visiting a bookstore and choosing a paperback over an e-book. It’s not the tidiest or the neatest bookstore in Notting Hill but there’s a method to the madness at the Book and Comic Exchange that frequent visits help to establish; it’s laid out in a standard A-Z way, but due to the cluttered look you will probably need to ask where the right section is (don’t be overwhelmed by the slightly haphazard appearance!).

Daunt Books

Daunt Books is a small chain of independent bookstores with locations throughout London and a reputation for representing some of the finest places in the city to pick up your next read. The Notting Hill branch might not have the stunning Edwardian interiors of the company’s famous Marylebone shop (worth checking out for the architecture alone) but its selection of fiction, non-fiction, and history is first-rate. The whole shop is skewed toward travel so visitors can expect to find fiction and non-fiction arranged by geographical location. If you want London stories, that’s easy, the shop has plenty, but staff can also point you in the direction of texts relating to the next stop on your travel bucket list.

Lutyens and Rubenstein

The quality you’ll find at Lutyens and Rubenstein is what you get when two respected literary agents set up a corresponding bookshop to showcase their refined tastes in literature. Located on Kensington Park Road behind a chic shopfront complete with a striped awning, the store is an extension of the reading habits of the two women who founded it (Sarah Lutyens and Felicity Rubenstein); their side careers as literary agents give them an exclusive angle from which to source and select their stock. Great for children’s books and regular literary events, the shop is a community space with a well-earned loyal following that sings the praises of the staff whose recommendations are always on point.

The Notting Hill Bookshop

The inspiration behind the bookshop owned and run by Hugh Grant in 1999’s Notting Hill, the excellent Notting Hill Bookshop is part bookstore, part rom-com pilgrimage—a combination that’s kept its superstar status going strong, even 20 years after the movie was released. Film fame aside, the shop is a beautiful place to spend some time leafing through signed special editions, cookery, fiction and a well-stocked travel section (named the Travel Book Co.). If you visit on a drizzly London day, stand beneath the glass roof in the children’s section for that extra dose of romantic, bookshop feels.

Oxfam Bookshop Portobello

What the Oxfam Bookshop on Portobello Road lacks in looks it more than makes up for with bargains. The nonprofit, charity bookstore has a solid collection of pre-thumbed paperback fiction, a regular stock of travel guides, and even a small range of hardback collectibles and gift editions available at a fraction of the cost of most other Notting Hill bookstores.

Waterstones Notting Hill Gate

It may be the largest book chain in the UK, but Waterstones still manages to retain some semblance of neighborhood charm in its larger stores, one of which you’ll find handily located on Notting Hill Gate. Here you’re likely to find that the prices of new books can almost compete with those offered by popular online bookstores, with the chain able to offer heavily discounted bestsellers to reel the customers in. The shop has a great children’s section and offers tables of recommendations for those who have limited time to browse.

South Kensington Books

As the name suggests, South Kensington Books is located a short way south of Notting Hill but given the quality of this mixed new and remainder bookshop, it deserves a spot on this list. Safe to say, it’s worth traveling to the sweet little shop, where limited space doesn’t hinder the expansive selection crammed neatly into every available nook and cranny. It is particularly excellent for lovers of fiction, art, fashion, design, history, psychology, poetry, and nature. If that’s not enough to tempt you, then head there after closing when an outdoor shelf (which is only available at night) acts as a sort of philanthropic lending library for anyone who fancies, or needs, a free book.

Al Saqi Bookshop

A fountain of knowledge when it comes to the Middle East, the Al Saqi Bookshop should be the first stop for anybody interested in discovering the city’s foremost collection of popular non-fiction, fiction, and academic texts influenced by the region. Books in English relate to all aspects of the Arab world, so you’ll find unique tomes (often commissioned by the shop’s own publishing arm) along with contemporary releases like Justin Marozzi’s “Islamic Empires.” Along with the store’s content, it also has a handsome architectural façade worth seeing.