10 Amazing Bookstore Cafés From Around the World
April 9, 2015
You’ll never look at the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble the same way again
10 Amazing Bookstore Cafés From Around the World
Books and coffee go together like bread and butter, and these 10 amazing bookstores from around the world take this relationship to a whole new level. Cozy or grandiose, quiet or bustling, they are the ideal places for both quiet reading and stimulating conversation. Whether you consider yourself a literary type or not, you should add these bookstores to your travel itineraries. Not only will you gape at their beauty, you’ll also find excellent resources to optimize your travels — be it in the form of a book or advice from a local.
Alexandra Bookcafé (Budapest)
Alexandra Bookcafé, or just Bookcafé, seems like your standard bookstore, except that when you climb up the stairs you’ll find what looks like the ballroom of a royal palace. Actually, it is the bookstore’s café. The neo-Renaissance decor, live music, delicious pastries, and bookish vibes combine to create a reading environment that is just as perfect today as it was when the space opened (as part of the Párizsi Nagy Áruház, or Paris Department Store) in 1911.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid (Buenos Aires)
Frequently voted as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a must-see if you are in Buenos Aires, whether you are a bookworm or not. The enormous bookstore is located in what used to be a majestic theater, and guess where the café is? Right on the stage. Enjoy café fare while taking in the amazing view of shelves upon shelves of books.
Barter Books (Alnwick, England)
There’s no better place to keep calm and carry on that the place where that phrase was originally coined. In this quaint Northumberland town, Barter Books is a converted train station that not only holds the rustic, comforting charm of an independent bookstore (with a fireplace!), but also offers a “buffet” serving homey British fare that they call “Breakfast American Style.” Have you ever been served four rashers — smoked streaky bacon — with a pot of tea in an American diner? Didn’t think so.
The Bookworm (Beijing)
The go-to spot for Beijing’s literary community and visiting writers alike, this café, bookstore, and events space (featuring book talks, quiz nights, book clubs, and open mic nights) is an amazing place to make conversation with locals and other tourists. The Bookworm has a whiskey bar with over 30 options and a menu that changes seasonally. When you’re not surrounded by bookshelves, you’re encircled by glass and covered by a beautiful orange canopy.
Cook and Book (Brussels)
Cook and Book has various rooms of books, each with a completely different aesthetic theme. The literature section is a black room with 800 titles hanging from the ceiling, as well as (for reasons unbeknownst to us) Acqua Di Parma fragrances, customized motorcycle helmets, and Champagne bottles. The gardening section is in a greenhouse, which contains street lamps that were formerly used on the streets of Brussels. The store has two restaurants: Block A features a large, multi-page menu with items like steak tartare toast, while Block B has a smaller menu but a long wine list. Both offer a brunch buffet. Can you think of a better way to spend an afternoon?
Every Thing Goes Book Cafe and Neighborhood Stage (Staten Island)
Staten Island isn’t particularly known for its bookstores, but it is known for its sense of community. Add organic chocolate and espresso, a garden patio, events, and vinyl records, and what you’ll get from Every Thing Goes Book Café is a convivial environment in which to discuss literature and art over coffee. It’s another great reason to take the ferry.
Ler Devagar (Lisbon)
It’s no surprise that the city Fernando Pessoa wrote so beautifully about has one of the world’s most amazing bookstores with a café to boot. The bookstore, whose name means “read slowly” in Portuguese, is part of a larger art center. The small, industrial café is located under a giant white hanging sculpture of a bicyclist, and serves wine to customers who come to the bookstore for the many readings and conferences.
El Péndulo (Mexico City)
Poetically named “The Pendulum,” this enormous Mexico City bookstore has two floors and shelves of books all the way up to both of its ceilings. When you overlook the scene from your seat at their Bukowski Bar, the view is just spectacular —it looks like the whole building is made of books. Many international bookstore cafés play it safe and serve pastries and sandwiches, but the Cafébrería El Péndulo serves mostly Mexican fare. When else can you eat Mexican food at a bookstore café?
Tranquebar was the name of a colony the Danes established in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu in 1620, their first colonial adventure. The former colony is now called Thatangambadi, but its Danish name survives in this popular Indian restaurant in Copenhagen. The bookstore it's a part of stocks mostly travel books and literature from and about various countries. With trinkets and memorabilia from around the world interspersed throughout the store, this is probably the closest thing you’ll find to a microcosm of the entire world. The intimate café is the perfect setting for armchair and real travelers alike.
Trident Booksellers and Cafe (Boston)
Trident Booksellers and Cafe brings together a large menu with an even larger selection of books. Choose an item from their award-winning magazine section and sit for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in a space that is popular among students and Back Bay locals. Order their Tibetan momos, which are dumplings stuffed with baby spinach, scallions, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic, and served steamed, fried, or half and half.