Best Central London Coffee Shops to Read

Best Central London Coffee Shops to Read

As an avid reader that lives and breathes the West End, both socially and professionally, it has been a multi-year-long task to find the perfect reading joints in London's entertainment hub. Beneath the veneer of Soho's hustle and bustle and Covent Garden's tech-centric community, I have found some gems. Singled out are places where you can sit, order a coffee (or perhaps even a pinot noir) and not be hassled or looked upon with disdain for deep diving into your literary creature comfort of the week for hours on end.

The Ambrose Café at Heal's

Best Central London Coffee Shops to Read


What delights me most about this spot is, unsurprisingly, the inspired decor. It is after all located within London's premium purveyors of fancy furniture. What is surprising is that this visually delightful and eminently tasteful cafe is rarely at capacity. You should always find a table, even at peak hours. Table service is very much a thing here and the staff are as patient as they are cheerful. So basically read, kick back and bliss.

The new Café at Foyle

Best Central London Coffee Shops to Read

An obvious choice it could be argued, however, I have come across my fair share of questionable bookstore cafes (cough Waterstones cough). Foyles have really come up trumps with their version of a book friendly cafe. 

They have certainly kept their book credentials in the design elements with signage that emulates typewriter keys scattered throughout. Importantly the ambiance is perfect, it is as if they got my bedside lamp luminescence and warmth down to an exact science! The downside is it is a very popular spot, during peak hours it can be hard to find a stray chair let alone a table due to the large cohort of people reading books cover to cover.

London Review Cake Shop

Best Central London Coffee Shops to Read

Attached to the London Review Bookstore, this gem is a much more intimate proposition than the previous two. Situated just yards from the British Museum, this is the perfect spot for those wanting to feel especially erudite. Crucially for me there is a quite magnificent range of herbal teas as well as a plethora of cake options. Like Foyles it can get busy at times, nonetheless the attentive staff will not blink an eye if you decide to read War and Peace in one sitting. 

Bar Italia

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Now for something completely different though equally charming. More of a spot for night owls pining for a late night 45-minute social setting to finish that last chapter. Bar Italia is almost a 24-hour café (open till 3am!) that has been around since the late 40’s. Yes, space is limited indoors – although I have never had trouble finding a seat- and the ambiance could do with some TLC, yet the coffee is exceptional, the vibe is buzzy yet conducive to reading, and frankly where else in central London are you welcome to read in the wee hours?


Written by Andre J.