It is a melancholy fact that independent bookshops are nowadays an endangered species. The mighty Amazon flows remorselessly on. Fortunately, London remains a bookish city, and there are still quite a few survivors defying the ravenous maw of the Internet. Among my favorites are Heywood Hill on Curzon Street in Mayfair, Hatchards on Piccadilly, Sotheran’s on nearby Sackville Street and John Sandoe on Blacklands Terrace in Chelsea.
But specifically for travel books, I always head to Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street (which, parenthetically, is one of my favorite streets in London for a relaxed weekend stroll). The store opened in 1990 and now has five siblings. But the original branch is still the best, chiefly because of the building itself — a former Edwardian bookshop with long oak galleries, graceful skylights and William Morris prints. The selection of travel books and maps is incomparable. For me, there are few more pleasant ways to spend a rainy afternoon than browsing the shelves and being transported in imagination to the four corners of the world.
This article appeared in the October 2014 print edition of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report under the headline “Favorite Independent Bookshops."