I used to think that coffee tables were for, well, coffee. Maybe some snacks. A glass of wine at night. Remote controls.
That was before I became obsessed with interior design, and it was then that I discovered the world of coffee table books: gorgeous, hardcover publications jam-packed full of inspirational photos and snippets of information, perfect for flipping through – a few pages at a time – while sipping your afternoon cuppa.
The best thing about coffee table books is that there’s one for every niche out there. I have a whole book on Coca-Cola, and it never fails to keep me amused (plus it looks cute, which is, of course, extremely important). London isn’t exactly a niche, though, so the good news is that, when it comes to London themed coffee table books, you’re absolutely spoiled for choice.
So whether you’re looking for the perfect addition to your own coffee table, or you want to find a gift for the London lover in your life, these 11 London themed coffee table books have got you covered, offering escape, inspiration and a bit of interior flair to boot!
Cereal London City Guide by Rosa Park and Rich Stapleton
Part travel guide, part inspirational photo book, the Cereal London City Guide is an essential addition to any London lover’s coffee table. Created by Bristol-based minimalist travel and style magazine Cereal, this stunning book contains photo essays, interviews with local designers and architects, itinerary ideas, illustrated maps, and oodles of inspiration.
True to the much-loved Cereal style, you won’t see many of the main London tourist spots in here, but you might discover a hidden gem or two, and you’ll certainly see the city from a different (and very stylish) perspective.
Maps of London and Beyond by Adam Dant
If you’re the sort of person who gets to know a city through studying maps (I can’t be the only one, can I?) then this book will keep you captivated for hours at a time.
Created by cartographer and artist Adam Dant, Maps of London and Beyond is a visually stunning coffee table book packed with colourfully illustrated maps of London, showing various neighbourhoods of today, as well as days gone by. There are famous faces to be spotted, unusual visualisations of familiar maps (such as a spherical tube map, or a map of London in perfect squares) and countless tiny, clever details to look out for.
A Year In London by Amadeus Long
This is the Rolls Royce of London coffee table books, costing a whopping £150, but it’s an absolutely stunning depiction of the capital in every season.
In 2016, photographer Amadeus Long spent (almost) every single day traipsing around the 430 stations on the London Underground network to discover the city’s nooks and crannies. He captured the people, the places, and the character of London, which you can explore in the pages of this gorgeous book (I’m a big fan of the rainbow sprayed edges!).
And if you like his photos, you can purchase his stunning prints to hang on your walls, to bring a bit more of London into your home.
Get A Year in London from Amazon
Pretty City London by Siobhan Ferguson
Do you spend hours getting lost in the absolute rabbit-warren of London-themed hashtags on Instagram? Get offline, and get your nose in the Pretty City London coffee table book, which was created by the woman behind the popular and always inspiring @prettycitylondon Instagram account.
In the pages of Pretty City London, you’ll find gorgeous shop fronts, florists, coffee shops, vintage cars, and some of the most beautiful bookshops around London. There are also plenty of tips on how to get that perfect Insta-shot of your own, so if you’re planning to take envy-inducing photos of London next time you visit, this one’s for you!
Humans of London by Cathy Teesdale
You might have heard of Humans of New York, but London’s humans are just as fascinating, and worthy of their own inspiring book!
Described as ‘the perfect antidote to feeling lost in a big city’, Humans of London is the story of 250 Londoners, as captured by Cathy Teesdale and her team. From the heartwarming to the heartbreaking, each featured Londoner shares their own tale: their hopes and dreams, fears and failures, triumphs and tears.
It’s a celebration of diversity, and of the beauty of the city and its inhabitants, and it offers readers an intimate peek into the lives of the people who make this city what it is.
Startup London by Christina Hopkinson and Rick Pushinsky
Did you know that over 200,000 startups launch in London every single year?
This book shares the stories of 30 such startups, from a handmade denim brand to a fashion magazine, an app, a distillery, and even a plant nursery. The founders of each of these creative ventures shares their vision, their passion, and their pursuit of success in one of the world’s biggest cities.
The book comes with a separate booklet that includes tips for entrepreneurs, so you can be inspired and informed all at once!
Portrait of Britain Volume 3
The other two ‘Portrait of Britain’ volumes are fantastic, too, but if you have to choose just one, I recommend Volume 3, which captures the country (not just London) in 2020, including the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the important Black Lives Matter movement.
‘Portrait of Britain’ is an annual photography competition, and this book is a showcase of the best entries from 2020, with portraits of key workers, doctors and nurses on the front line, protesters, and people living their day-to-day lives. It’s a collection of hope, of unity, and of beauty, and it’s a breathtaking reflection of modern Britain.
Get the Portrait of Britain Volume 3 book at Waterstones
Launderama by Joshua Blackburn
Launderettes (or laundromats) aren’t your average coffee table book subject, but somehow, this gorgeous (and extremely niche) book on London’s launderettes is inspiring, compelling, and, quite frankly, just cool. Who even knew that the city had so many cute places to wash your clothes?
I, for one, did not, but author Joshua Blackburn visited all 462 of the city’s washing establishments, selecting his favourites to share in this brilliant little book (and it is little – it’s not your average, oversized coffee table book), and now I want to see them all!
Buildings that Made London by David Long and Josie Shenoy
London is home to plenty of iconic buildings, but I bet you’ve never seen them like this before! Using original architectural drawings found in The National Archives, artist Josie Shenoy brings some of London’s most recognisable structures to life in new and beautiful ways between the pages of this gorgeous London themed coffee table book.
Although technically a children’s book, this one is great for adults, too. With fascinating facts and snippets of history accompanying each detailed drawing, it’ll keep everyone entertained for hours, while they’re getting to know more about this wonderful city.
Little People in the City by Slinkachu
Street Artist Slinkachu presents London’s smallest corners in this quirky book, depicting the lives of the artist’s ‘little people’: tiny figurines of men, women, children, and even pets. And when I say tiny, I mean miniature! These mini characters live out mini scenes of normal, and not-so-normal life (e.g. a father defending his daughter from the vicious attack of a bumblebee!) in what might be the strangest of all the London themed coffee table books.
After photographing his creations, Slinkachu leaves them where they are, so when you’re walking around London, be sure to keep your eyes peeled (or maybe bring a magnifying glass) to see if you can spot a teeny tiny street art installation!
Hidden London: Discovering the Forgotten Underground by Chris Nix, Siddy Holloway and David Bownes with Sam Mullins
Just when you think you know everything about London’s iconic London Underground (a.k.a. The Tube), you discover that there’s still more to learn!
This hardcover book uncovers some of London’s hidden subterranean secrets: forgotten or repurposed stations, tunnels and shafts and bunkers below the hustle and bustle of the city. Photos, illustrations and architectural drawings are accompanied by a written history of London’s forgotten underground, making this a fascinating and hauntingly beautiful book.
So whether you’re looking for inspiration for an upcoming visit to London, a way to relive a trip you took to this incredible city, or just something beautiful to adorn your coffee table, these London themed coffee table books have got you (and your interior design) covered!
Which one do you most want to flip through?
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