How many of us are in desperate need of a holiday? Somewhere warm, interesting, relaxing and away from our daily lives. And how many of us can actually afford to go on that holiday?
This year, instead of sulking about not going anywhere 'other', I've decided to have a home holiday. I'm going to take a long weekend to myself, switch off my email, stock up on wine and good food* and ignore everyone except the cat. It sounds pretty dull, doesn't it? Well there's one other ingredient to make that home holiday special, and it comes thanks to a bookshop.
You see I recently visited my first outlet of Daunt Books, one of those well-known booksellers that's up there on the list of bookshops to visit before you die according to Buzzfeed or some other such list-generating website. Admittedly I didn't get to their flagship Marylebone shop – I'm saving that for another time – but if their Chelsea outlet is anything to go by it'll be worth the wait.
Entering from the middle of a long shop front, browsers can turn right for children's fiction, head forward for adult fiction (and possibly the best non-fiction set of bookshelves I've ever seen) or left for what can really only be described as the world. Bookcases are arranged by country, taking in travel guides, fiction and non-fiction and offering the best bookish introduction to the world you could wish for.
So when I went up to the booksellers and asked for a holiday they didn't bat an eyelid. They instead asked what sort of thing I was after and came up with the goods. Several times.
Seeing my excitement at their varied offerings, combined with my reluctance to embark on a round the world trip, I was invited to take a chair and test the waters. An invitation I gladly accepted.
During my reading I was able to appreciate how good their suggestions were and further enjoy the atmosphere: the setting was beautiful and the staff were friendly and attentive. They were also remarkably patient as they politely explained to another shopper why her Waterstones card wouldn't be accepted (the chain's managing director happens to be this independent bookshop group's founder but the two are otherwise not related). The other thing of note was how busy it was given I was there at 7.30pm on a Saturday, hardly prime book-buying time although the bookshop is open until 9pm.
158-164 Fulham Road,
London, SW10 9PR
Tel: 020 7373 4997
*take away menus