There’s literally something for everyone in London, from food to shopping and music. These are the literary spots in London every bookworm must visit.
Whether you want to see real-life inspirations for your favourite tales, tributes, or just get a drink! You must check out these bookish London locations.
The Book Bars
There are a few book bars in London every bookworm must visit! I got to see two out of many, so those are the ones I can only really talk about. I’d love to see the others when I eventually go back.
While they are not official literary spots in London in terms of inspiring a work of fiction, they still deserve a spot. You might find yourself inspired by these book bars and creating your own literary masterpiece. As the old adage says, write f*cked, edit sober.
1. The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room is a secret bar in Benugo in Southbank. Believe me when I say that it really is a secret because we spent over an hour walking around Southbank trying to find it in the blistering heat. I was very close to calling it off, but eventually, we found it, having walked past Benugo a few times and cursing Google Maps for leading us astray.
It’s hidden behind a bookcase in the main bar, so you’ll have to ask the staff to point it out to you. We only got a glimpse because someone had booked it out for their hen party. The rest of the bar is nice and has a few bookcases but isn’t as cosy as the book bar itself.
Southbank was a lovely area, so I would recommend this bar anyway!
2. The Cinnamon Club
The Cinnamon Club is a bar and restaurant in an old library in Westminster. It is a very high-class Indian restaurant, which we couldn’t afford to eat in! We got a drink in their library room and called it a night. I think the drink menu was a little limited, so I’d recommend making a night of it and going for the food in their big library dining hall!
If you only want a drink I’d say pop by if you’re already in Westminster, but otherwise, I’d say visit another book bar if it’s closer. Secret London has some great suggestions.
The Independent Bookshops
Independent bookshops are so magical, and they really give cities their own character. London has so many independent bookshops I would recommend checking out, but for the sake of brevity I narrowed it down to two. What’s a bookish London bucket list without somewhere to buy books!?
3. Word On The Water
Word on the Water is an independent bookshop in London that literally sits on the water. The boat-book store is in Regents Canal, which is near King’s Cross so you can drop by while you’re seeing the Harry Potter sights.
4. The Second Shelf
The Second Shelf in an independent bookshop in London that sells second hand books penned by women, trans, and non-binary authors. They also sell rare finds such as a skirt worn by Sylvia Plath herself!
Good for the environment, and good for minorities and women! You can also check out my bookshop bucket list.
5. Peter Pan Statue In Kensington Gardens
J.M Barrie was a London native and found inspiration for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park, which is where the statue is. Hyde Park is massive so it’s still a bit of a walk to the statue when you get there!
The Darling Family lived in London, and it’s also where the film Finding Neverland (not *that* Finding Neverland) was set. The 2004 Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp as J.M Barrie, was largely filmed in the park and about his journey to creating the classic.
London is the home of all things Harry Potter, from areas that inspired J.K. Rowling to filming locations. Out of all the pop culture and literary spots in London, nothing has changed London quite like Harry Potter did. The top picks relating to the books are:
[2023 Note: None of these Harry Potter attractions financially support the franchise. I strongly disagree with J.K. Rowling’s comments on the transgender community and no longer post new Harry Potter content.]
6. King’s Cross Station
King’s Cross is an important Harry Potter sight in the books and movies. Harry takes the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 and 3/4s every year but had some trouble finding it the first time around. It was also where he spoke to Dumbledore in Deathly Hallows because not only is it a spot sentimental to him, but it represented the fact that he actually had a choice to go back to the Battle of Hogwarts of stay.
Unlike the in books, Platform 9 & 3/4s sticks out like a sore thumb! That is, if the big queue of Potterheads doesn’t already catch your eye. They moved from in-between platforms 9 and 10 because it got in people’s way. Now it’s downstairs, next to the gift shop.
They set up a trolly so you can pose like you’re heading to Hogwarts too!
7. Diagon & Knockturn Alley
Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley look different in the movies than the real areas in London they were based off. J.K Rowling used to stroll around London on her lunch break when she was working in Amnesty to look for inspiration while building the Wizarding World.
The real Diagon Alley is in Cecil Court. It’s not the bright vibrant alley from the movies but is full of wonderfully weird book shops and witchy-stores which inspired the area the Golden Trio shop for their wizarding school supplies.
Knockturn Alley is in Goodwin’s Court, which isn’t far away at all. The dark round windows and tight space are quite akin to what we see in the film. One person even propped Hedwig in their window! It definitely has a creepy feel to it, but opens right out onto a sweet shop we can only assume inspired Honeydukes!
Be respectful as people actually live in Goodwin’s Court.
8. Grimmauld Place
The inspiration for the location of Sirius Black’s family home was on Craven Street! J.K Rowling used to sit on the walls and look at the houses as she was penning early drafts of Harry Potter.
Although the real spot isn’t what we see in the movie (as the streets were too narrow to fit filming equipment!), drop by if you’re in the area. Again, real people live here, so be respectful. Check out my list of goth things to do in Edinburgh.
Sherlock Holmes is London’s other literary giant. These are the spots worth seeing:
9. 221b Baker Street
221 Baker Street didn’t actually exist when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the books, but it does now!
221b Baker Street can’t be missed because there’s always a huge clue to get into the museum! You don’t have to go to the museum, but you can check out the plaque on the door commemorating Sherlock and John’s home, and pop into the gift shop.
Baker Street has little nods to Sherlock everywhere, and it was one of my favourite areas in London.
10. St Bart’s Hospital
St Bartholomew’s Hospital was where Sherlock and John first met in the books, and was the very same hospital Sherlock jumped off in the infamous season three finale of the BBC show.