Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated May 25, 2019.
Updated May 25, 2019:
Foyles is now located at 107 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB. They sold their flagship store and moved to this address in June 2014.
Original blog post:
When I arrived in London, England, for a week-long vacation last December, I headed straight over to Foyles right after I checked into the Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel. It’s one of my favorite places (to hang out and shop at) in London.
Foyles is one of the world’s largest bookstores. At their flagship store on Charing Cross Road they sell over 200.000 books on five floors, plus CDs, DVDs, stationery, sheet music, magazines, journals, and gifts. They have a staff of 80 booksellers.
The café at Foyles sells a selection of vegan cakes, and they have soy milk for coffees and teas. I had a cup of tea (£ 1.80) and a slice of carrot cake (£ 3.00) and spent an hour just hanging out at the café. Be warned: it’s a bit draughty there – it’s an old building, Foyles has been selling books at this location for about a hundred years – as most old buildings in England are not well insulated; but that’s part of their charm. There are large wooden tables, if you want to use your laptop, and there’s free WiFi.
I don’t care much about many of the usual tourist attractions; feel free to stand in line at Madame Tussauds without me. As long as I can spend hour after hour browsing the shelves at Foyles and hanging out at the café afterwards, I’m happy.
The bookstore is really quite wonderful, and if you are planning a vacation in London, make sure to stop by. Foyles was founded in 1903, and it is a family-owned business. You can read about the business’s colourful history on their website.
I buy a lot of books on Amazon, but always also try to support family-owned businesses. Foyles’s Charing Cross store has a large selection of London guidebooks, and I bought a copy of Secret London there, which is truly a marvelous book (I’ll review it at another time). I bought a copy of Mark Twain’s A Tramp Abroad, and spent a good part of my vacation hanging out at various coffee shops around the city reading those books. I also purchased a copy of Fry’s English Delight, a BBC audiobook, on which Stephen Fry discusses puns, metaphors, quotations, and clichés of the English language. If you can’t make it to London, check out their website, you can buy all books and other items online, where they also sell e-books, second-hand and out-of-print books.
Yes, I love this store, and no, they are not paying me to promote it.
Address: several stores throughout Great Britain, their flagship store is at 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB
Opening hours, Charing Cross store: Monday – Saturday 09:30 AM – 09:00 PM, Sundays 11:300 AM (tills open at 12:00 noon) – 6:00 PM. Check the website for opening hours on public holidays.
Phone: +44–(0)20-7437 5660