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19 Unexpectedly Perfect Places To Curl Up With A Book In London

London-based writers share their favourite spots.

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1. St George's Gardens, Bloomsbury

Flickr: keep-it-surreal

"This former graveyard turned park, just around the corner from Russell Square, is a tranquil spot to read, write and recharge when it's dry outside. You forget you're in the middle of a bustling city here."

–Keith Jarrett, UK slam poetry champion

2. Diwana Bhel Poori House, Euston

Instagram: @howinvincible

"The taste of lassi and the smell of a bubbling pot of sambhar make this a great place to eat and read, my favourite combi-activity."

–Nikesh Shukla, author of Coconut Unlimited and Meatspace

4. Clissold Park, Hackney

Flickr: zongo

"I loved spending time in Clissold Park, sitting at one of the small white plastic tables on the grassy slope in front of the café. In particular, the dogs and their owners were a joy and although I don't write much about animals, somehow their antics inspired me to write humour."

–VG Lee, author of The Comedienne


5. The London Library, Pall Mall

Facebook: thelondonlibrary

"A daunting subscription fee but… leather armchairs to snooze in, every book there ever was, inspirational readers and writers to spur you on and take your lunch box up to the members' room."

–Diana Souhami, award-winning author of Selkirk's Island

6. Bunhill Fields, Old Street

Flickr: 64352026@N02

"This quiet, leafy, burial site for famous non-conformists is gorgeous in the spring and summer months. And you also get to spy on all the William Blake pilgrims coming to leave stuff on his grave."

–Holly Bourne, author of Am I Normal Yet?

7. The Parlour at Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly Circus

Instagram: @fortnums

"I mean really, who wouldn't want to have champagne and a big ice cream sundae while they're reading? And the walls are beautifully decorated with lions and unicorns by the amazing Paul Bommer. I wish I went there more often."

–Sarah McIntyre, award-winning illustrator and founder of the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign

8. Theatre Royal Bar, Stratford

Facebook: theatreroyalstratfordeast

"On the east end of London there is this fabulous gem of a place, where you can get good food, and during the day a relatively quiet place to collect your thoughts and read or write."

–Amanda Paul, author of the poetry collection Misunderstood


9. Electric House, Portobello Road

"I've been a member of the Electric for a decade and it's seen me through projects that have both failed and succeeded. Because it's a club, they don't kick you out – many's the time I've sat in the corner with a hot laptop and a single cup of tea for several hours. The celeb-spotting spices it up, too – my best have been Annie Lennox, Rita Ora, Sam Smith and Jamie Dornan, feeding his baby."

–Jessica Fellowes, journalist and author of The Devil You Know

10. The northbound 29 bus, Trafalgar Square to Turnpike Lane

"All-weather writing terrain, my friend. Perfect for eavesdropping and soaking up atmosphere, with a demographic that changes every five or six stops. Try the N29 for more spice, but bring vomit-proof gear on a Friday night."

–Keith Jarrett

12. The Coffee Jar, Camden

Instagram: @londoncoffeeshops

"This cosy coffee place is a gem. The stool tucked away at the back is mine though – I will fight you for that corner!"

–Keith Jarrett


14. The Southbank Centre, Southbank

Instagram: @somzrockin

"Free wifi, and an elevator that sings. What more do you need in life?"

–Holly Bourne

15. Green Park, Fitzrovia

Flickr: duncanh1

"Everyone forgets about Green Park in London, but it's not just a tube station. It's a lovely small park that joins the Ritz, St James's Palace, Buckingham Palace and the backs of elegant houses. A Nancy Mitford novel and a park bench are my perfect pairing in the sunshine."

–Jessica Fellowes

16. Charing Cross Station, Charing Cross

Flickr: la_entropista

"This is still for me a perfect place to write. There are plenty of seats and nobody minds if I just sit and make notes. It's the station I come into when I journey up from Hastings and I get there at least an hour early so that I can enjoy a hot chocolate & egg mayo sandwich while I write down my thoughts often inspired by conversations overheard on the train, on the station."

–VG Lee


17. The Barbican Centre, Barbican

Instagram: @modaoud

"Loads of sockets, comfy chairs, coffee counters, no one to hassle you. Warm. Free. Stay all day."

–Diana Souhami

18. Primrose Hill, Regent's Park

Instagram: @dondeirdevacaciones

"For the distractions – mainly in the form or glamorous people. It's basically Madame Tussaud's but with the real people, not the waxworks."

–Sathnam Sanghera, journalist and author of The Boy With The Topknot

Catch these writers and find more literary hideaways at London Book and Screen Week, April 11 - 17, 2016.