From Geoffrey Chaucer and John Donne to Virginia Woolf and Beatrix Potter, London has a long, illustrious literary heritage. It’s no surprise, then, that the capital is full of libraries. Offering so much more than reading materials, many libraries in London are attractions in themselves. Within easy reach of The Montague on the Gardens, visitors can find some of the most beautiful, historical and fascinating libraries in the city. Here’s a selection of some of our favourite literary havens to visit on your next trip.
The British Library is England’s most famous library for a reason. It houses the world’s largest collection of books, journals and periodicals, with over 150 million items to discover. While the sheer enormity is impressive, what makes it particularly special is its variety. As well as a large assortment of historical and contemporary British texts, the library brings together resources from all four corners of the world, from East Asia and the Middle East to Australia and the Americas. Take a seat in one of the 11 reading rooms and indulge your passions for everything from history and archaeology to zoology and pop culture. For entrance, register for a free reader pass.
A picturesque walk across the River Thames takes you to the BFI Reuben Library on the Southbank. A must-see for film enthusiasts, the library offers a wide variety of books, journals and digital materials related to the world of film and television. From manuscripts of famous films to literary critiques and journals, there’s so much to discover. Keep an eye on the events calendar for your chance to listen to some of the UK’s top screenwriters and filmmakers talk about their craft. Visitors can register for a day pass.
Wellcome Library is a fascinating space, founded from the personal collection of Sir Henry Wellcome. It encloses an ambitious selection of 20th century works on the history of medicine, with fascinating insights into the realms of witchcraft, anthropology, ethnography, and more. In addition, the library is home to one of the most picturesque reading rooms in the city and literary events are often held in this beautiful space. Visitors are welcome for day visits.
If you’re interested in the history and culture of Africa, Asia or the Middle East, the SOAS Library is for you. The academic library is an important space that has an excellent reputation for research, learning and teaching, and is home to an extensive collection of over 850,000 volumes, periodicals, archives and manuscripts. Visitors are invited to enjoy three free visits each year.
Many of the best libraries in London are located within a short walk of Bloomsbury’s Montague on the Gardens, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the city.