Some places just have that certain something. The French have a phrase for it: ‘zat certain sumsing!’ Quirky spots you stumble upon and tell stories about. Lesser known marvels like bonkers bars, rickety restaurants or curious museums where the curator’s cats run wild. It’s not about price or prestige, no, no. It’s all charm and character. Places with personality. That’s a GLP, my friend. Come in and explore, then go out and explore.
Booksellers since 1797, founded by John Hatchard. That makes it the oldest surviving bookshop in London. Old Johnny’s portrait can still be seen on the shop’s staircase today, surveying his kingdom of words, paragraphs and verses. Oh how proud he’d be.
Much like the restricted section in Hogwarts’ Library, the glorious Hatchards looks like it might just have a copy of Tom Riddle’s diary. Nestled up against Fortnum and Mason and opposite the Royal Academy, there’s definitely something majestic and rather aristocratic about this establishment. Dark wood paneling. Winding staircases. Original fireplaces. Five floors of books, stacked from floor to ceiling, crammed into nooks and crannies, covering every topic under the sun. There’s even a wall of antiquarian books dedicated to the old bulldog himself, Winston. Ron Jeremy would be well jel.
They’ve had many a notable customer from Britain's greatest political, social and literary scenes - from Queen Charlotte, Disraeli and Wellington to Kipling, Wilde and Gladstone to Lord Byron. That’s some serious name-dropping. Plus there are regular book signings from the likes of Booker Prize winners to JK Rowling, from David Attenborough to Sebastian Faulks.
This is truly the Montblanc of bookshops. Hatchard’s is so good and grand in fact that it holds three royal warrants for the supply of books to the Royal Household, from the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. Bookworm’s bliss.
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