Picture this; it’s raining hard, it’s the school holidays, there are wet children everywhere and you’re pushing your way through museum central at South Kensington. The cafes are overflowing, the entrance to the tube is cold and cramped and you just want 10 minutes of peace, 10 minutes to remember who you are and to remember that life is, in fact, worth living. Fortunately, The South Kensington Bookshop exists as a warm and quiet response to just such a geographical frustration. Situated just along from South Kensington tube, it offers a welcome retreat from the bustle and clamour of the area.
The space has been a bookshop as far back as the 1940s, and has existed in its present form for the past 15 years. Although small, this is a bit of an unexpected book buyers paradise. Much, much more than just a tourist retreat, the shop boasts a remarkably eclectic mix of texts including a range of specialist items. Primarily an arts based store, there is an in depth range of fine art, architecture and photography books. Very aware of their proximity to the V&A, National History Museum and Christies, stock is frequently tailored to compliment the latest exhibitions. Beyond this, there is also a plethora of new fiction, classics, travel, gardening, interiors, and biography, all meticulously laid out.
The stock is constantly updated making the place alive and worthy of regular visits to see what latest gems have been shipped in. The management aim to keep the turnover of books fresh, new and exciting. If there’s something missing, they will usually have it ordered in within 24 hours, and ordered books come with a 10% discount. If this isn’t enough, despite a sophisticated demeanour, this is in fact a discount store with many books up to half their average retail price. The management pride themselves on stocking unique remainders, and 60% of the stock wouldn’t be available in your average main stream shop.
So from browsing tourists up for the day to dedicated regulars passing by to chat to the staff and pick up something new, this bookshop is well worth a visit.