London is a dream come true city for bookworms. Why? Because you don’t have to go down to your local Starbucks to have a cup of coffee while reading a good book, there’s plenty of quirky and cute little cafes where the average bookaholic can hang out and read in peace. As much as I love Starbucks, I have to admit that there’s something whimsical about a café with contrasting chairs and a muted sense of magic. So if you’re ever in South London around the Bermondsey / Borough area, you might like giving one of these 5 tried-and-tested bookworm friendly cafes a go!
186a Crampton Street, London SE17 3AE
What I had: Soy Milk Mocha (£3.50) & Potenta Cake (£2.50)
You feel right at home the minute you step into The Electric Elephant. The mismatched chairs and different-sized tables scattered around with seemingly random whimsy contribute to this sense of hominess. The Electric Elephant sits away from the main road on a quiet little street which makes it perfect for a peaceful afternoon of coffee and good books. Take up residence on the worn, well-loved couch and cuddle the resident black and white cat that strolls into the café every now and then. Or set up your office away from office in one of the small window tables so you can people watch while getting some work done. The sun-faded lanterns and old décor will surely make you feel like you’re safe inside your mother’s kitchen!
97 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 4TW
What I had: Iced Salted Caramel Latte (£3.70), Hot Chocolate (£2.40), & Macadamia Nut Cookie (£2)
You don’t have to be a bike lover to enjoy a lovely Saturday morning at this adorable little café. Machine caters to bikers with a bike shop located at the very back of the café, but if you just want to spend a morning reading then you should just drop in and find a comfy seat. With lots of great pastry options and some truly delicious coffee, you’ll be reluctant to leave. The décor will give you something to admire as well. Bikes hang from the walls and most of the tables are made using bike parts such as rims and wheel spooks. On sunny days you may opt for one of the sidewalk tables and maybe a little Hemingway if you really want to get in the café mood.
199 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3UW
What I had: Spiced Chai Latte (£2.50)
If you’re not keeping a lookout, you just might miss this tiny, hole-in-the-wall café, but don’t worry the delicious smells will surely lead you right to its doorstep! The Watch House is probably one of the smallest cafes I’ve visited, but I fell in love with it right away. The black and white tiled floor, the quaint wooden benches and tables, the friendly (although decidedly hipster) staff, made it feel like the perfect place to spend a nice afternoon perusing something willfully ironic like J.D. Salinger’s A Catcher in the Rye. It also sits right on the corner of a lovely park so if you’re not in the mood for staying inside, you can just get your beverage to go and set up your private reading mecca on a shady park bench.
4. HEJ Coffee
1 Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN
What I had: Lemon & Ginger Tea (£2.10)
HEJ Coffee is definitely one of my favorite coffee places this side of the river just because it’s such a great place to hang out (and reasonably priced too!). For just a little over 2 pounds you get an entire pot of tea which will last you long into the afternoon as you tackle large works like Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Find a comfy armchair somewhere in the light and airy ambiance that is HEJ and get lost in your fictional world! Beware though: HEJ is so quiet and relaxing that time may just slip away from you and you’ll find yourself sitting there until closing time.
103 Wapping Ln, London E1W 2RW
What I had: Dirty Chai Latte (£2.50)
If you were to ask me which of these 5 coffee shops I would be sure to visit again, I wouldn’t hesitate to say Cinnamon Coffee. The coffee served here is out of this world and the Dirty Chai Latte is particularly orgasmic. Although a little more out of the way than the other cafes I’ve visited, Cinnamon Coffee is definitely the ideal place to work or read. Located on a quiet street with little traffic, it gives you the sense of a small-town café hidden amongst the hub-bub of the big city. Colorful tables dot the sidewalk outside on sunny days, or you can choose to cozy up in one of the threadbare armchairs in Cinnamon’s back room. A beautiful place for reading come rain or shine!
What are some of your favorite London cafes and why? Share a few of your bookish haunts with us!