Randomness Guide to London - Differences between Version 13 and Version 12 of Daunt Books, W1U 4QW
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An excellent bookshop on Marylebone High Street.
This is one of those places straight out of a film. It certainly doesn't look the part from the outside, and the front rooms look like your standard chain bookshop, only with better furniture. Here you'll find the latest editions and best-sellers, magazines and pretty much everything you'd find in the ground floor of Foyles, or Amazon.
Beyond those two rooms, however, the story is different.
To the left there's the children/young adults section, with a vast choice of titles. Although there's a small area with toys and a couple of low bookshelves, most of it is made up of the gorgeous dark-brown full-height bookshelves which are all over the shop, so parental guidance is advised, if only to get that book from the upper shelf.
To the right, and past a small corridor showcasing some high-quality photography books, you'll find the real heart of Daunt Books, the travel section, which spreads across 3 floors: basement, main floor and two galleries above the main floor. On these three floors you will find everything from guides to the Trans-Siberian Railway to obscure books on hashish culture in Morocco, reviews of the best Japanese restaurants in Sao Paulo and a good selection of maps (though in this respect, Stanfords, Covent Garden is particularly recommended). The London section alone is a full wall in the upper gallery, about 10-20 metres of (once again) full-height bookshelves.
You'd think that the rich dark wood used throughout these rooms - bookshelves, stairs going down to the basement, chairs, tables - would lend a very heavy and suffocating atmosphere to the place. That's where the skylight comes in. It runs over the main room's full length, and fills it with a light that brings out the colours in the wood and all the books, and makes them shine; turning this into a really beautiful place in which one can spend hours just looking around or sitting in a chair reading a book (as indeed there are usually several people doing).
Whether you need to go somewhere and need to plan the trip, want to read about some exotic place or are just in love with books, Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street is definitely one of the best shops in the world to visit.
P.S. Marylebone High Street is also one of the best kept London secrets, I believe. Go and spend a day there. --pfig
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