It’s World Book Day on Thursday 3rd March and to celebrate we’ve compiled a list of the best travel and hotel experiences in the UK for book lovers.
The UK has produced some of “history’s most famous literary figures” and has long been “one of the best literary destinations in the world”, Malavika Kumar told Travel.Earth. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen are just a few of the literary giants who have entertained generations of readers.
From Harry PotterFrom platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station to hotels with libraries, here are the places to bookmark for your next literary trip.
Harry Potter Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station
One of the most popular literary destinations to visit in the UK is Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station in London, Kumar said. Marking the “secret platform of the Hogwarts Express”, platform 9¾ is not between platforms nine and ten, but on the western departures hall. “A luggage cart, complete with trunk and owl cage, protrudes from the wall as fans line up for that perfect photo op.”
If you’re a fan of JK Rowling’s bestselling books and popular film series, a visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter should also be high on your wish list.
Edinburgh: a city of literature
In 2004 Edinburgh was named the world’s first Unesco City of Literature. Scotland’s capital is the birthplace and home of world-renowned writers, poets and playwrights, including Arthur Conan Doyle (sherlock holmes), Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus), Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) and Val McDermid (Kate Brannigan).
Edinburgh has over 50 bookshops and the National Library of Scotland is home to over 24 million printed items. Literature lovers should also visit the Scottish Poetry Library and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.
Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon
“Explore & Snore” Package in Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, is packed with culture and history that celebrates the great playwright. Visitors can catch a production at the Royal Shakespeare Theater or explore Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall.
Boutique Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon has partnered with Shakespeare’s England to offer an ‘Explore & Snore’ package which includes a one or two night stay and access to all sites in the historic town via the Explorer Pass.
This handy ticket lets visitors discover the unspoilt beauty spots, ancient castles and legendary tales that Stratford-upon-Avon has to offer and includes entry to 17 Warwickshire attractions. Attractions include the five Shakespeare family homes: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place, Hall’s Croft, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm.
Prices start from £195 based on two people sharing a bed and breakfast room.
Penzance and the bookshop at the end of the world
The Cornish port town of Penzance is rich in literary history, with many famous personalities having strong roots there.
Maria Branwell, mother of the famous Brontë sisters, was born in Penzance in 1783 before moving to Yorkshire, while the famous poet Alfred Tennyson vacationed in Penzance before sailing to the Isles of Scilly with fellow writer Francis Turner Palgrave. Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas was also familiar with the Cornish town, marrying Caitlin Macnamara at the Penzance Registry Office in 1937.
Positioned as an ideal destination for book lovers and home to an annual literary festival, Penzance continues to attract bibliophiles from Cornwall and beyond. The aptly named Edge of the World bookshop is Penzance’s leading independent bookshop and offers a range of classic, original and local Cornish titles across all genres.
The British Library
If you do a quick Google search, you will find pages and pages of literary attractions and tours in London. However, if you choose a place to visit, take the time to go to the British Library in St Pancras.
The UK’s National Library is home to over 170 million collectibles, ranging from Magna Carta and Jane Austen’s notebooks to hand-written lyrics by The Beatles. Treasures of the British Library is free to visitors and tells the remarkable stories of over 2,000 years of human experience. There is also a range of free and paid events and exhibitions for visitors to enjoy.
Flintshire, North Wales
Gladstone’s Library is the UK’s only ‘residential library’ and comprises 26 bedrooms, an on-site restaurant, reading rooms, lounge and a collection of over 150,000 items.
It’s a “bibliophile’s dream,” said Daniella Saunders in Country & Town House. And a “great place for those who don’t intend to leave the library after the lights go out.”
All rooms have en suite bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, tea/coffee making facilities, hairdryers and radios. However, there are no televisions in the rooms – this is to “preserve the spirit of study and reflection”.
All over England
Literary weekends in England
England’s literary landscapes and places are “as diverse as the writers they have sparked”, says the VisitEngland tourist board. “From organized trails to self-guided literary journeys, there are opportunities for inspiration all over the country.”
Enjoy “splendid fun” at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen in Bath, discover Charles Dickens’ Broadstairs in Kent or explore the beautiful house and surroundings that inspired classic novels by Bronte in Haworth, West Yorkshire.
Hotels with libraries
Is there “anything better than getting away with a good book?” asks Red Online. Maybe one thing… escape to a hotel that has a library.
One of the best places for ‘retreat-seeking book lovers’ is the Library Suite at the five-star Connaught Hotel in London. Created by architect Michael Blair, the suite is split over two levels and features a master bedroom, second bedroom, living room and shelves littered with a wide variety of books. It is “pure happiness”.
The Standard Hotel in London, which once housed Camden Council’s library, has its own library lounge and a resident librarian, Country & Town House said. “No ordinary hotel library, titles have been organized into an array of alternative and quirky categories.”
If you like to read a book with a drink, head to the Library Bar at Stanbrook Abbey in Worcester. “Composed of comfy mismatched chairs, an old fashioned piano and of course plenty of books, this welcoming library lends itself to the traditional charm of the 16th century establishment.”