World Book Day 2022: best UK travel and hotel experiences for book lovers
Explore the UK’s top literary destinations and places to stay
It’s World Book Day on Thursday 3 March and to celebrate we’ve put together a list of the UK’s top travel and hotel experiences for book lovers.
The UK has produced some of the “most celebrated literary figures throughout history” and has long been “one of the top literary destinations in the world”, said Malavika Kumar on 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 Potter’s Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station to hotels with libraries, here’s the places you should bookmark for your next literary trip.
Harry Potter’s 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 to the Hogwarts Express”, Platform 9¾ is not found between platforms nine and ten, however, but on the western departures concourse. “A luggage trolley, complete with trunk and owl cage sticks out of the wall while fans wait in line for that perfect photo op.”
If you’re a fan of J.K. Rowling’s bestselling books and popular film series, then 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 designated as the world’s first Unesco City of Literature. Scotland’s capital is the birthplace and home to world-famous writers, poets and playwrights including Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus), Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) and Val McDermid (Kate Brannigan).
Edinburgh boasts more than 50 bookshops and the National Library of Scotland is home to more than 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 the birthplace of Shakespeare
Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, is bursting with culture and history that celebrates the great playwright. Visitors can watch a production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre or explore Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall.
The boutique Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon has teamed up with Shakespeare’s England to offer an “Explore & Snore” package which includes a one- or two-night stay and access to all the sights in the historic market town via the Explorer Pass.
This handy ticket allows visitors to discover the unspoiled beauty spots, ancient castles and legendary tales that Stratford-upon-Avon has to offer and includes entry to 17 attractions in Warwickshire. 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 guests sharing on a bed and breakfast basis.
Penzance and The Edge of the World Bookshop
The harbourside town of Penzance in Cornwall is rich in literary history, with many famous figures having firm roots there.
Maria Branwell, mother of the famed Brontë sisters, was born in Penzance in 1783 before moving to Yorkshire, whilst renowned poet Alfred Tennyson used to holiday in Penzance before sailing across to the Scilly Isles 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 a great 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 is filled with an array of classic, quirky and local Cornish titles in every genre.
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 are going to choose one place to visit then make time to go to The British Library in St Pancras.
The UK’s national library is home to more than 170 million collection items – from the Magna Carta and Jane Austen’s notebooks to lyrics handwritten by the Beatles. Treasures of the British Library is free for visitors and tells the remarkable stories of more than 2,000 years of human experience. There’s also a range of free and paid-for events and exhibitions for visitors to enjoy.
Flintshire, North Wales
Gladstone’s Library is the UK’s only “residential library” and features 26 bedrooms, an on-site restaurant, reading rooms, guest lounge and a collection of more than 150,000 items.
This is a “bibliophile’s dream”, said Daniella Saunders in Country & Town House. And an “ideal spot for those who don’t intend to leave the library once the lights go out”.
All bedrooms have private bathroom facilities, free Wi-Fi access, tea and coffee making facilities, a hairdryer and a radio. However, there are no TVs in the bedrooms – this is to “preserve the ethos of study and reflection”.
Literary inspired weekends in England
England’s literary landscapes and locations are “as diverse as the writers they stirred”, said the VisitEngland tourism board. “From organised trails to self-guided literary trips, there are chances for inspiration all over the country.”
Enjoy “splendiferous fun” at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen in Bath, discover Charles Dickens’s Broadstairs in Kent or explore the beautiful home and surroundings that inspired classic Brontë novels in Haworth, West Yorkshire.
Hotels with libraries
Is there “anything better than escaping with a good book?”, Red Online asks. Maybe one thing… escaping 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, sitting room and shelves littered with a huge variety of books. It’s “pure bliss”.
The Standard hotel in London, once home to the Camden Council library, boasts its own Library Lounge and resident librarian, said Country & Town House. “No ordinary hotel library, titles have been organised into an array of alternative and eccentric categories.”
If you like to read a tome with a tipple then head to the Library Bar at Stanbrook Abbey in Worcester. “Comprising cosy mismatched chairs, an old-world piano and of course plenty of books, this inviting library lends itself to the 16th century establishment’s traditional charm.”
Study reveals the UK’s top literary hotspots
It may come as no surprise that London is the most popular setting to be used in books. More than 400 novels in the research used the city as the basis for adventures and escapades. From solving mysteries in Sherlock Holmes to navigating life as a single woman in Bridget Jones’s Diary, the capital is home to many much-loved characters.
Edinburgh is the second most popular backdrop for novels in the UK, with nearly 40 books set here. The Scottish city is home to many of Ian Rankin’s books and plays a key role in the life of his famous character Inspector Rebus. Mystery is the top genre for this city, with other novels such as Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber and One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson located here too.
Brighton and Hove takes the bronze medal for literary hotspots, and just like Edinburgh it’s mystery and crime that populates this vibrant city. Home to the popular character of Superintendent Roy Grace in the series of books by Peter James, the city is also the backdrop for Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock and Sara Sheridan’s Brighton Belle.
The top ten literary hotspots in the UK
Average book rating*
Brighton and Hove
* Average book rating and top genre for each setting are based on Goodreads data