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Biggest Bookstore in Europe – Peek inside Waterstones Piccadilly!

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Calling all book lovers, did you know that the biggest bookstore in Europe is Waterstones Piccadilly? 

You’ll find it in the heart of London and it has over eight miles of bookshelves in their delightful Art Deco building.

There are over five floors to browse and it’s like a labyrinth of tomes with volumes from every genre you can think of.

After your book shopping spree, you can enjoy a hot drink in their cosy Café W or sip a cocktail in their 5th View Bar!

Here is a complete guide for visiting Waterstones Piccadilly, the biggest bookstore in Europe. 

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

London Travel Resources

  • Don’t forget travel insurance, I always use World Nomads

What is the biggest bookstore in Europe?

The biggest bookstore in Europe is Waterstones Piccadilly in the heart of London.

This also happens to be the largest Waterstones in the world and London’s biggest bookshop!

It’s a must-visit if you’re a reading lover heading to the capital.

You could honestly spend hours wandering around this flagship bookstore. It’s so easy to lose track of time as there is so much to explore.

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

Step inside Waterstones Piccadilly – London’s Biggest Waterstones

It’s hard to miss the enormous Waterstones that dominates the main shopping street of Piccadilly.

This bookstore joins famous names like Hatchards, Hamley’s and Fortnum & Mason. But, it will easily catch your eye due to the sheer size of it.

As you approach the Waterstones flagship, you’ll have to crane your neck to see the very top! 

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

Step inside and you’ll find yourself on the ground floor which usually has new releases, best sellers, board games, cards and gifts.

But, their literary offerings are spread over five floors that you can browse at your leisure!

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

Explore five floors crammed full of books 

The flagship Waterstones is mainly focussed on Fiction, Travel, History and Art but they have lots of genres on every floor.

Of course, I went straight to their fiction floor and fantasy sections! I only ever read Romantisy these days and I was so happy that they had this in abundance. 

Usually, fantasy books are shoved in with Sci-Fi and it’s a teeny-tiny section of the bookstore. But, I had hundreds to choose from here!

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

I then went to browse my next favourite genre which is historical fiction and history. Plus, I found myself lost in their poetry section too. 

I went quite late in the evening but the time flew by and the next thing I knew they were calling for final purchases. 

What I loved about each floor was that they had seating areas and displays that perfectly aligned with the theme on that floor. 

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

They had Roman statues for history, an incredible display for anime and fiction, and floral displays for art and fashion. Every floor was unique. 

Don’t skip a visit to the colourful children’s section either. It has a vibrant circus theme (a nod to Piccadilly Circus) and there are always events and activities for kids.

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

Art Deco details

You may be surprised to know that this stunning graded building in Piccadilly wasn’t always a bookstore. It started as a department store called Simpsons of Piccadilly.

This was a large retail store founded by Alexander Simpson and designed by the architect Joseph Emberton. It opened in 1936 and became the largest menswear store in Britain.

The architectural design of the building was innovative for the era and it became a Grade I listed building. 

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

Eventually, it was purchased by Waterstones to become their flagship store in 1999. But, thankfully, the bookshop retained the original Art Deco features.

You’ll notice this stunning vintage style in the elevator, light fittings, staircases and even the bathrooms. It’s a beautiful bookshop. 

There are five book floors, a mezzanine floor with a café and a bar that takes up the 5th floor.

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

Waterstones Piccadilly Café W

Another reason to visit the Waterstones flagship is that you can enjoy coffee and cake in their Café W.

It’s located on the mezzanine floor and you’ll find it has a typical bookshop café vibe. So, although the store can be packed, it’s very peaceful. 

They sell hot food, lite-bites like sandwiches and paninis and they have a great selection of homemade cakes too. 

It’s a very popular café in London so you may have to wait for a seat. You’ll often find lots of people reading their new books here or working on laptops.

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

5th View Bar & Food 

One of the best things about visiting Waterstones Piccadilly is the fact that they have a panoramic rooftop bar and restaurant on the 5th floor.

5th View Bar & Food is a contemporary cocktail lounge that serves up an all-day continental menu. 

You can enjoy drinks, brunch or dinner whilst overlooking the high-rise buildings of London! 

They serve up pastries and coffee for breakfast or they can whip you up a Croque Madame or eggs benedict for brunch. 

The main menu is filled with London-themed dishes like their Big Ben Burger or Traditional Fish & Chips.

You can even enjoy a quintessential English experience by indulging in their afternoon tea for two! 

Click here to see their menu and how to book

Waterstones Piccadilly London 5th View Bar

How to visit the flagship Waterstones in London 

You can visit the biggest bookstore in Europe by heading over to Piccadilly Circus in London. 

The flagship Waterstones is located on 203-206 Piccadilly and it’s hard to miss on the high street. Click here for a Google Pin.  

It’s best to use a mix of walking and the London Underground nicknamed ‘the tube’ to travel around the city. You can alight at Picadilly Circus on either the Piccadilly (dark blue) or Bakerloo lines (brown). 

From there it’s a short walk to the bookstore which is on the same street as famous shops like Hatchards, Hamley’s, Fortnum and Mason and Piccadilly Arcade. 

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

It’s open Mondays to Saturdays from 9 am – 9 pm and 12 pm to 6 pm on Sundays! 

Make sure to leave at least an hour or two to explore as there are five floors of books, a café and a restaurant to visit. 

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

Are you looking for more amazing London bookshops?

If you are on a literary tour of London, there are so many incredible bookshops you can visit. 

Just nearby, you can find the oldest bookshop in the United Kingdom which is Hatchards. They were established in 1797.

Although Hatchards has many stores these days such as St Pancras Station, Piccadilly is their flagship store and is a must for book lovers. 

Daunt Books in Marylebone is a gorgeous bookstore that concentrates on travel books. This is one of the prettiest bookshops in the city.

Daunt Books Marylebone
Daunt Books Marylebone

Why not visit a floating bookshop? Word on the Water is the London bookbarge that is moored at the canal behind King’s Cross Station. 

Just nearby, you can visit the British Library which is the largest library in the UK.

It has 13.5 million printed books and e-books in its archive plus many more and there are some free exhibitions you can enjoy. 

Word on the Water bookstore
Word on the Water

Lastly, Cecil Court is an entire street in London that is dedicated to the written word. Many people believe that this street inspired Dragon Alley in Harry Potter. 

You can visit famous bookstores like Travis & Emery, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Bryers and Bryers. 

Harry potter Cecil Court London Diagon Alley
Cecil Court

Read more of my London travel guides

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A complete guide to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel

Why you must visit God’s Own Junkyard

The hidden gem of St Dunstan in the East Church Garden

FREE things to do in the London Bridge District 

Goodwin’s Court in London

A Harry Potter guide for Leadenhall Market 

Magical cocktails at The Cauldron 

Why you must visit the Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition

London’s only Butterbeer Bar 

How to visit Harry Potter’s 12 Grimmauld Place

Why you must visit the House of MinaLima

Dark Arts at Harry Potter Studios London

The secret Anne Boleyn symbols at Hampton Court Palace

Visiting Hogwarts in the Snow at Harry Potter Studios

How to visit the Hogwarts Divination Stairwell at St Paul’s Cathedral

A complete Mr. Fogg’s Tavern review

Save the biggest bookstore in Europe for later! 

Waterstones Piccadilly London Biggest Bookstore in europe

Here are some of the best UK travel resources

  • Flights: I use Skyscanner to look for flight deals. Try to be flexible with travel dates for the best prices.
  • Accommodation: is my go-to hotel platform and I’ve used them for years. 
  • Car rental: Rental Cars is a great choice that compares all sorts of rental companies and gets you the best price.
  • Activities: I love GetYourGuide and use the platform all the time for booking group tours and attraction tickets.
  • e-Reader: I love to read Romantasy books and I always take my beloved Kindle Oasis with me. It has an orange light and is waterproof which is perfect for lounging by the pool.
  • Travel insurance: I always use World Nomads to book travel insurance. You never know when you’ll need cover!