It’s the final day in our Indie Tour and we’re going out with a bang! Senior Editor Kate visits Stanfords in Covent Garden, ‘the UK’s leading specialist retailer of maps, travel books and other travel accessories’ open for business since 1853. Read her thoughts below:

This afternoon I donned my khakis and my desert boots and set off on the arduous twenty-minute walk from our offices at Blackfriars to one of my favourite bookshops: Stanfords, the travel bookshop in Covent Garden. Calling Stanfords a bookshop is a bit of a misnomer really, because it’s far more than that – it sells a huge number of maps (it began life as a cartographers’), atlases, globes, notebooks, beautiful wrapping paper, and has its own horse and cart waiting outside to do tours of London – as all bookshops should, frankly. But the books are at the heart of what they do, from guidebooks to novels. So I asked their lovely bookseller Lizzie for some recommendations and came away with three fascinating titles to add to my to-read pile. First, the beautifully designed The Edge of the World: How the North Sea Made Us Who We Are, by Michael Pye, then Sarah Turnbull’s wonderfully charming Almost French, and finally Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, because even us non-fiction editors have to read fiction sometimes.

One of the best things about Stanfords is that it’s like walking into history. It’s been going in one shape or another since 1853, and I got some fascinating factoids from their marketing manager and walking encyclopaedia Dan Lewis, as follows:

  1. The shop features in The Hound of the Baskervilles
  2. In 1922 the company produced the smallest ever maps for Queen Mary’s doll’s house
  3. When the shop was bombed in an air raid in 1941, the thousands of maps helped to put out the flames (the shop then sold the slightly-charred maps)
  4. Kenneth Williams of Carry On! fame once worked in the shop as a ‘very promising’ draughtsman

So, if you’re looking for a wonderfully bespoke bookshop with a colourful history, head over to Stanfords. After all, the best books are about taking you somewhere, and no-one knows that better than them.


Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Stanfords - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Stanfords - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2Stanfords - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Thank you for joining us on our Indie Tour! Come back next year and in the meantime find out more about Independent Bookshop Week at

Slightly Foxed - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 1

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