When it comes to buying books, there’s one place I visit more than most: Daunt Books. In fact, today the small chain has six shops across London – from Holland Park to Hampstead, Cheapside to Chelsea – but working in Marylebone means I’m lucky enough to have easy access to the original space, founded by James Daunt in 1990.
The Edwardian shop on Marylebone High Street, instantly recognisable by its wooden façade and green-and-white signage, is as intriguing for its design as its literary loot. The interior centres on a long, two-storey gallery, with oak balconies and a conservatory ceiling letting in lots of light. At the far end is an arched, stained-glass window and on either side are floor-to-ceiling shelves brimming with colourful spines. Here you’ll find books of all kinds – from travel writing to fiction – arranged by country. (Perfect research material for someone who earns a living creating travel guides.)
Elsewhere in the shop are shelves devoted to beautifully illustrated cookery books, children’s classics, insightful biographies and sparky modern fiction. If you can’t decide what you want simply ask one of the members of staff, who are knowledgeable and as friendly as they look. Daunt Books is the perfect place to while away an afternoon – or, in my case, a lunch break.
Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4QW.