Whether you need to knuckle down to some hard work or simply dive into your newest novella, these are London’s most beautiful libraries to sit back with a good old book.
1. Wellcome Library Reading Room
Hailed as one of the most peaceful places in London to lose yourself in a book (or forty winks seeing as they have beanbags on the stairs?!), this library specialises in all things medical. If you’re looking to become a doctor, this one’s for you. Similarly, if you’re looking for a great reading room to put up on your Instagram, this one’s for you also.
Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
2. The London Library
This library could possibly be the mother of all libraries. Boasting rooms such as a Victorian Reading Room, a Time Room with 200 year old original copies and more than one million books and periodicals in over 50 languages, you could definitely lose yourself in the literature.
The London Library, 14 St James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4LG
3. Senate House Library
This historic library opened all the way back in 1838 and moved to Senate House in 1937. With lots of resources both physical and online, as well as an ever-changing schedule of events, exhibitions and talks, this library really is more than a reading room. With all those plush seats, you could say it would make a good napping room too?
Senate House Library, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU
4. The National Archives
Free entry is always a bonus and access to lots of original documents and records just makes The National Archives even better. Set in the picturesque settings of Kew, even just going on a sunny day to sit around the pond with a book in hand sounds marvellous.
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey,TW9 4DU
5. Bishopsgate Institute
A rather regal looking library, if we do say so ourselves. This is one library that is open to everyone, no need to book ahead and even comes with free wifi. Hallelujah. They also offer a wide selection of courses for those times when you feel like brushing up on your creative writing skills in a day.
Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4QH
6. Canada Water Library
This library literally looks like an installation from the Tate so was always going to be featured on this list. It holds over 40,000 books and has recently been named as the busiest library in the capital. Try to catch it when it’s quiet to peruse and put one’s feet up.
Canada Water Library, 21 Surrey Quays Road, London, SE16 7AR
7. BFI Mediatheque
Still technically a library, this BFI Mediatheque has over 2000 titles for guests to watch for free. You can turn up on the day, book in advance and explore their diverse collection all day long in your own personal viewing station. One for the movie lovers, students or just those who are looking to relive some childhood nostalgia with your old favourites.
BFI Mediatheque, Belvedere Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8XT
8. National Art Library at The Victoria and Albert Museum
This major public reference library is purely for celebrating the fine and decorative arts. It’s completely free and just requires visitors to bring in a form of I.D to gain access to their collection of over 1 million items. A truly stunning environment so even if you just went to sit in awe, we couldn’t blame you. (See more free museums in London.)
National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
9. Westminster Reference Library
This library is essentially what comes to mind when thinking of traditional reading experiences. Think grand old London building filled with all those musky book smells and lots of space for you to curl up with a classic.
Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin’s St, London WC2H 7HP