10 London Guidebooks Worth Reading

City map

Coming to London and want some reading fodder? A classic travel guide will give you the lowdown on where to go, what to see and point you in the right direction for hotels deals in London. Meanwhile, the reception staff at your Paddington accommodation are always on hand to help with tips.

But if you want to scratch beneath the surface and learn even more about London’s remarkable history, the quirks of British etiquette and get off the beaten track whilst in the city – you’ll want to find yourself a more alternative guidebook.

Curl up in your room at the Park Grand Paddington Court with one of these informative yet off-the-wall London guides.

Do Not Pass Go: From the Old Kent Road to Mayfair (Tim Moore, Vintage)

This is a travelogue which tells the story of London since the 1930’s using the 28 streets, stations and utilities featured on the board game classic, Monopoly. Moore shares how Pall Mall got its name, which three London addresses you won’t find in your A-Z and why the cul-de-sac that is Vine Street has a special place in the heart of Britain’s most successful Monopoly champion. Pick this one up if you fancy a slightly different type of guidebook, which is laced with warm-hearted humour.

Time Out 1000 things to do in London for under £10 (Time Out Guides)

As much as we love London, it’s not known for being the cheapest city. Fortunately, this book has plenty of tips to enjoy it on the cheap – with activities costing, yes, less than £10. Many of the activities in this book are actually free! The guidebook shares well-known Londoners’ top ten inexpensive things to do and guides you through cheap nights out, budget shopping and dining, quirky walks, low-cost cultural experiences and tickets for free. Snag one of the best hotels deals in London, invest in this book and you’ll feel very flush whilst in the city!

London’s Hidden Walks: Volumes 1-3 (Stephan Millar, Metro Publications)

Londoners always boast about how ‘walkable’ our city is, and now we have not one but three books to prove it! Millar’s three volumes are not only guided walks, but they are also packed with interesting insights into London’s history with fascinating stories and more general historical facts so you’ll have a deeper understanding of London. Each volume contains 12 walks with maps and photographs to bring each walk to life, and answer any questions that arise whilst strolling around the city.

Tired of London, Tired of Life: One thing a day to do in London (Tom Jones, Virgin Books)

A hands-on guide to London, perfect for long-stays or regular visitors. With seasonally appropriate suggestions for every day of the year, you can explore East London by canoe, search for Fagin’s lair in Clerkenwell, seek out Aphrodite in the British Museum on Valentine’s Day and find hidden places near your accommodation in Paddington.

Walk the Lines: The London Underground, OVERGROUND (Mark Manson, Arrow)

Following on from your walking guides, Mark Mason took London’s walkability to the extreme when he decided to walk the entire length of the London Underground – but overground. Packed with historical trivia, personal musings and eavesdropped conversations, Mark learns how to get the best gossip in the City, where to find a pint at 7am, and why the Bank of England won’t let you join the M11 northbound at Junction 5. He drinks a cup of tea with the Krays’ official biographer, discovers what cabbies mean by ‘on the cotton’, and meets the Archers star who was the voice of ‘Mind the Gap’.

Paddington’s Guide to London (Michael Bond, HarperCollins)

One for the little ones! Paddington the Peruvian bear unveils his adopted home as only Paddington can. From the station itself (moments from the Park Grand Paddington Court) and on through all the major London destinations (with some surprising detours en route) this is a guide certain to entertain and enlighten the whole family.

The How to Be British Collection (Martyn Alexander Ford & Peter Legon, Lee Gone Publications)

If you want to get your head round those quirky British etiquettes do’s and don’ts, this is your guide! The How to Be British Collection is a series of cartoon illustrations with accompanying texts on the oddities of the British character. A fuss is something that a Brit cannot stand, and a true Brit will never send food back in a restaurant. Always remember your Ps and Qs when asking a Brit for help, even in an emergency. Slightly silly but incredibly accurate.

Secret London: An Unusual Guide (Rachel Howard & Bill Nash, Jonglez Publishing)

The original and still the best of all the many alternative London guides, Secret London: An Unusual Guide is the ultimate glimpse into the hidden, eccentric and overlooked. Where can you find monsters in Trafalgar Square? Whatever happened to Bedlam? Where can you praise God, buy meatballs and have a sauna? To which secret society does Prince Charles belong? What’s the trick to instant weight loss? Find out here….

I Never Knew That About London (Christopher Winn, Ebury)

Follow bestselling author Christopher Winn on a captivating journey around London to discover the unknown tales of the capital’s history. Travel through the villages and districts that make up the world’s most dynamic metropolis, unearthing the hidden gems of legends, firsts, inventions, adventures and birthplaces that shape the city’s compelling and turbulent past.

Georgian London: Into the Streets (Lucy Inglis, Penguin)

Welcome to London’s most formative age! Georgian London was the time of love, sex, intellect, art, great ambition and fantastic ruin. Georgian London: Into the Streets lets you peek into the gilded drawing rooms of the aristocracy, walk down the quiet avenues of the new middle class, and crouch in the damp doorways of the poor.

It might make you want to leave your wallet in your hotel room in Paddington – apparently, tourists make perfect prey for London’s thriving community of hawkers and scavengers.

Feeling inspired to explore the city? If you haven’t already, take advantage of hotel deals in London to score a cheap room to use as your base.