top of page
  • Writer's pictureLynne McConway

3 must-visit Bloomsbury bookshops

Bloomsbury is an iconic area of London for us book lovers.

Renowned as the area where Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot and Charles Dickens all lived at one time, it’s an arty, attractive neighbourhood that feels more like a village than Central London.

Marchmont Street, WC1

Three of my favourite bookshops are on Marchmont Street, a few minutes walk from the British Museum and Russell Square, both well-known tourist attractions.

Take some time and step away from the guidebook; you’ll be rewarded by a delightful few hours of book browsing with, of course, stops for coffee and food.

Skoob Books

Tucked in a basement behind the modernist Brunswick Centre you’ll find a Bloomsbury institution, Skoob Books. With over 55,000 second-hand titles spread across countless genres like history, philosophy, sciences, art and fiction, there’s literally something for everyone’s tastes.

Local students love Skoob Books for its academic collection and the student discounts must be attractive too! For us non-students, there are still plenty of bargains with very reasonable prices across the shop.

A whole bookcase of Penguin Orange classics cries out for a browse, as does the smaller collection of Penguin Green books. 

Set a timer as you descend, you could easily spend hours in this delightful, musty (in the best way!) bookshop.

Skoob Books interior

Gay’s The Word

The UK’s oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop, Gay’s the Word was established in 1979 and is a small, bright shop with an interesting, extensive range of books.

Genres include gay fiction, lesbian fiction, queer art, essays on gender politics, memoir and poetry. There’s also a small second-hand section.

I make a beeline for the booksellers recommended section - there’s always several books and authors that are new to me as they usually don’t feature in mainstream book marketing buzz.

Open 7 days a week, it's a hub for events, talks and book launches so keep an eye on their website.

Judd Books 

I think my favourite on Marchmont St, Judd Books is a second-hand bookshop covering a ground and basement floor. Outside, boxes of books invite a rummage with all single books £1.95 or under and an offer of three books for £4.50. A bargain!

Inside, the bookcases reach the top of the tall ceiling and two long tables are crammed with mainly second-hand books, although I bought new Toni Morrison and Ocean Young books on my last visit.  

There’s a huge variety of books with the arts, fiction, literature, design, graphic novels and biography available. That doesn’t adequately cover their stock which runs to over 50,000 books.

There’s a generous student discount and loyalty card with one stamp received for every £10 spent building up to a £10 discount after collecting 8 stamps.

When you need a rest and some food after all the tiring browsing, you’re spoiled for choice on Marchmont Street. Some of my favourites are:


This family-run Lebanese Bakery has queues out the door at lunchtime as office workers line up for takeaway.

Make sure you join them for the delicious array of Manakish (flatbreads with different toppings), Arabic cookies, hummus pots and salad bowls. 

Fork Delicatessen

A gorgeous independent coffee and wine bar conveniently right across from Judd Books.

They serve coffees and a small, perfectly formed lunch menu of brunch, sandwiches and sourdough toasties and all reasonably priced.

Il Gelataio 

This gorgeous authentic Italian gelateria near Skoob Books has to be visited on a warm day. Alongside tempting ice-cream flavours, there are baked treats and pots of delicious tiramisu. Fill your boots!


bottom of page