6 London Guide Books to Buy Before You Visit


When staying in Kensingtonyou are in a prime position to explore London and all the wonderful cultural and historical things it has to offer. You are walking distance from Hyde Park, around the corner from London’s best free museums, a stone’s throw from the one and only Harrods in Knightsbridge and an effortless ride away from shopping on Oxford Street and watching musicals in the West End. Not to mention, from the comfort of your hotel, you have the option of tucking into a hearty Park Grand London Kensington Breakfast as well as a deliciously delicate Indian Afternoon Tea London


Though staying in this central hub is ideal, for the aforementioned reasons as well as others, it can also be overwhelming, as you aren’t sure where to start. Buying any of these London Guide Books will fix that issue in no time.

1. Lonely Planet Guide

Lonely Planet is the cream of the crop in the world of travel guide books. They have a guide for almost every city in the world and the team that has put it together has dedicated unrivalled time and effort into making sure it is one of the most all-inclusive manuals to exploration. Given the sheer size of London and the rate at which venues open and close, there are likely a few London Lonely Planet Guides to choose from no matter where you choose to buy your copy. With the rapidity of change and continuity of London’s city life, it is recommended that you buy the most recent guide published. They also have a pop-up book for children – taking a travel guide format and ensuring it is accessible and fun for kids to use. From pubs and theatres to museums and markets, Lonely Planet has you covered.

2. Secret London: An Unusual Guide (Local Guides by Local People)

Secret London: An Unusual Guide by Bill Nash and Rachel Howard is not your average travel guide. While the Lonely Planet guides are basically a guaranteed almanac of everything happening in London, it sticks to the classics. In contrast, this guide takes you off the beaten track and gives you a window into some of the more quirky and most unusual parts of the city. If you have visited London once before and ticked iconic landmarks like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace off your bucket list, then it is time to buy yourself a copy of Secret London and start getting under the skin of what is a remarkably unusual city when it wants to be!

3. London Theatres

This 2017 publication of Michael Coveney, London Theatres, is a theatre buff’s bible. It covers all of London’s most epic theatres and theatrical architecture and is filled with beautiful photographs. Though not a travel guide in a traditional sense, it is essentially a list of all the best of theatre in London which you can decide to visit. You are sure to feel the uncontrollable urge to visit Shakespeare’s Globe, for instance, after reading of its splendour. The best thing about it is that it is the perfect activity for early evening, before dinner, at Park Grand Restaurant Kensington, sat in the relaxed, comfortable bar, turning the pages and sipping on a hot cup of coffee (or something stronger!)

4.  The 500 Hidden Secrets of London

This paperback book by Tom Greig is an outsider’s ticket to being an insider in London. Think interesting places, buildings, restaurants, shops, museums, galleries, neighbourhoods, gardens and cafes – minus the seemingly never-ending crowds which are a result of mainstream guides. With at least 95 restaurant suggestions and loads of useful tips, you are going to feel like a local Londoner in no time at all. There are currently seven updated editions, to try to get your hands on the most recent to ensure you aren’t missing out on any fabulous new arrivals to the city since the 6th edition was published.

5. Literary London: A Street by Street Exploration of the Capital’s Literary Heritage

Book worms should not hesitate to buy a copy of Ed Glinert’s guide to London through a literary lens. Street by street, Glinert takes the reader through all the landmarks and areas of literary significance. A great way to absorb the information is to read a chapter and then head to the area in question to do some of your own exploring, knowing that the likes of Dickens may have walked in the very same spot as you. London has been home to playwrights, novelists, diarists, poets and essayists for years, all the way to Elizabeth Barrett Browning living on Wimpole Street.

6.  Walking London: Thirty Original Walks in and Around London 

This walking guide of London is every active traveller’s dream. Offering unique and beautiful walks in and around the city, this guide has the ability to transform London into a bustling metropolitan into an expansive and leafy world for you, provided you know where to go. When you are in the centre of the city or taking public transport somewhere, it can be hard to conceptualise the city as anything but urban, but as soon as you have had your eyes open to the possibility for green space and historical majesty, you will never think that way again!

TOP TIP: Bookshops Near Park Grand Kensington Hotel London

It is all well and good telling you which books you ought to be buying, but not particularly helpful without a short but concise guide for where to buy them while you are staying in Kensington. While many people will do their book shopping online, especially given that the following are your slightly quirkier bookshops which may not have these in stock, here are some bookshop-gems in the area which will certainly have some variation of a travel guide on offer:

  • South Kensington Books (22 Thurloe St, Kensington, SW7 2LT)
  • Waterstones (130 Kensington High St, Kensington, W8 7RL)
  • Lutyens & Rubinstein (21 Kensington Park Rd, Notting Hill, W11 2EU)
  • Librairie La Page (7 Harrington Rd, Kensington, SW7 3ES)

In the age of online travel guides and social media advertising, we often overlook the value of travel guides such as these. We can be tempted to spend every evening dining in the Park Grand Restaurant Kensington – and while this would be a luxurious and enjoyable experience, it doesn’t do justice to the scope of food and experiences on offer throughout the city. This is why you need a little nudge in the right direction and you can rest assured knowing that the recommendations in these guides are tried and tested. What are you waiting for?

Buy one and start exploring London now!