Enjoy the bookshop but PLEASE, PLEASE!!! don't forget to go upstairs. Amazing coffee and amazing atmosphere.
What hasn't already been said about this fabulous institution? Foyle's is just great. They will help you get any book you might be looking for if they don't have it. The children's section is pretty wonderful. They have an ever-changing section of quirky used/vintage books for the collector (or gifter)! And the cafe is pretty nice, too. :)
Foyles is, hands down, one of my top spots in London. I've been known to spend an entire day in this literary haven, and when someone says "day out" Foyles is one of the first places that comes to mind.
Run more like a department store than a typical bookshop, the employees in each section are knowledgeable about the associated topics and are incredibly helpful. It's a welcoming environment and I will keep going back until the end of days!
Love spending the afternoon here curled up with a good book. Great selection, incredibly nice staff who clearly don't mind you passing the hours in their shop.
Only two negatives: first, the very very limited selection of seats (I only know of 2 armchairs in the whole store - when I can't get those, I sit on the floor or on a stool). And second, the stall in the ladies bathroom has been out of order for months now - what's taking so long to fix it?
I absolutely love this books store - I visited it on my first trip to London and spent hours and hours there. I was so pleased by the staff recommendations. I was able to find Spanish fiction that it is so hard to find.
It was the greatest book store experience ever!
Holy s**t this place is amazing! Nowhere in the US (especially pseudo-intellectual L.A. where I live) have I been able to find anything close to this place. Strand in NYC comes close but lacks the depth of Foyle's. If you're looking for comix for the kids or foreign policy books by Oxford Press this is the place. This would be awesome for chillin' on a rainy day. No subject is too arcane for Foyle's. Bonus: right across from Chipolte's!
You love books? Someone you know love books? Then go here.
I could write a mass review about how brilliant this place is, the people that work there, the selection of books and the coffee... but you can see from the other reviews I will not be the first.
Please visit. You will not regret it.
Foyles is the grand-daddy of bookshops and looking at its many floors of books, I can believe its claim to be the largest bookshop in the world.
It did have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age but the shopping experience today is much improved by those changes. For example, you used to have to find a member of staff to write you a ticket for a book before you could pay for it at the counter. They also used to have a bizarre classfication for their books, making it hard to find what you wanted and yes, you then had to find a member of staff to help you
Today, the shop is bright and airy with the books in more traditional groupings. However, certain sections like travel for example, is strangely sparse. I do enjoy browsing some of their sheet music on the top floor and they have a semi decent medical reference section in the basement.
They do have a book ordering service for anything they don't have in stock and it's a decent bookshop on bookshop row on Charing Cross Road
Giving Foyles less than 5-stars is like... like... giving In-n-Out less than 5-Stars. Or Powells. Or Johnny's Diner. Or, I don't know, God.
Foyles is a mecca - a centre, a focal point, a magnet, a hub in the heart of London that often gets ignored. Don't ignore your heart London, just don't. Plus, it has an amazing Jazz Café with free wi-fi and tasty coffee.
With ebooks and iPads and Ken-Dolls and other vowel-infused electronic reading devices that are all the rage these days, it's nice to walk into a store that was long ago made with bricks and mortar, pick up a book with physical, tangible pages, and read it.
Foyles makes that possible.
When I was a kid, my dad would take me for a day out in London a few times each year. Now I got super excited about this as the one thing that both me and my dad had in common was our love for books.
We'd get off at TCR and walk down Charring Cross Road popping in bookshop after bookshop. I was allowed to choose a selection, which was normally half the size I actually wanted so I would ponder for hours over the books, which ones would be the best read, but which ones would last the longest. When I was younger I remember loving the children's section, they even had paper doll books and maze picture books, both of which were my favourite.
As far as book shops go this one really does have it all, a comfy cafe, a HUGE selection, helpful staff that don't mind you spending all day there. Like I said, a perfect bookshop.
I've walked by this store many times but never had a chance to look inside. I had some free time on Wed and decided to take a look. Boy am I happy I did for several reasons.
1. This place is huge! I thought it only had one level. That was until I found the elevator and realised that there are 4. My god, this place is like a department store for books!
2. Wide selection. If you are looking for books on any subject, it's probably here in this bookstore. I found an entire section dedicated to learning how to fly a plane. An entire section! Who knew there were so many books on the subject.
3. Most in-depth filmmaking sections I've seen in life. Period. There is everything from producing, editing, filming, acting, screenwriting. Hell, there is even a section dedicated to starting your own production company. I could (and probably) will live in this section.
4. Ray's Jazz Cafe. Yes. There is a jazz cafe on the top floor that was PACKED with people at 8:30 on a Wed. At first I thought that they were waiting for a gig, but apparently people just like to come up and relax. The cafe serves the standard coffee, tea and cakes. But they also serve wine, beer and cider. Booze and books. A very unlikely but amazing combo.
It's a given that the bookshop itself gets five stars - what it loses in its confusing lay out and maze like configuration, it more than makes up with selection, customer service and character.
So, bookshop aside, my five stars are basically for the cafe. Years ago it used to be much bigger and downstairs in the basement - it used to have much more of a music venue and bar feel, which was also great.
These days, the cafe is up on the first floor, and feels more like a little independent cafe that happens to have a band playing in the corner sometimes.
The staff are cool and friendly. The coffee is good, and their range of cold drinks is interested and varied. And what I like most is that everything has a real home-made feel - the cakes, the savoury snacks (great stuffed peppers). It's such a great antidote to the boring Costas and Starbucks you usually see in giant bookstores. If only more places were like this...
Call me difficult to please, but I've been in Foyles more times than one looking for a book that I cannot find, despite the store's online inventory saying it was available.
Sure, I'm often looking for the most obscure books you can imagine, but if foyles.co.uk tells me that the store has Gerald of Wales' _History and Topography of Ireland_ in store, well, I expect to find it in store when I make the special trip. And, no, I don't want Gerald of Wales' _History and Topography of Wales_. I may not be a Brit, but I realize that Wales and Ireland are markedly different countries.
The location itself is spread out over at least six floors, and I enjoy a good browse now and again. The employees aren't generally keen to offer their help to customers, but when specifically approached they will lend a hand as necessary and required. Although, if they can't find the aforementioned rogue book, they sure do give up the search pretty easily.
A little area on one of the uppermost floors contains used and antiquarian books for sale, although the selection isn't that vast.
And I hear the cafe in the store offers free wifi.
I'm a fan of the sheer breadth of topics covered by the in store inventory. From contemporary fiction to academic theory to queer non-fiction, Foyles has something for just about everyone to browse through. Except for books I specifically need. It never has those
So, go, take in the bookie haven that is Foyles. Just don't expect to cash in on many 3-for-2 deals that you might find at Waterstones or Borders. Displays at the front of the store may mislead you into thinking that all Penguin Modern Classics, for example, are on sale, so you excitedly pick out three titles from the shelves only to find out that the only titles available in the sale are the ones on the display itself. LAME.
Better than Borders and with a selection ten times as broad as WH Smith or Waterstone, Foyle's is the place to go for the book lover. Most of their selection is relatively recently printed, so you can expect to see the usual best sellers available for purchase but also some of the slightly harder to find books.
Completely accessible for those with moving-about challenges, there is a lift ("elevator" to the Americans) to all four floors as well as a couple flights of stairs. Tills ("registers") abound and you can usually find an assistant with little effort. The two I dealt with seemed to know their own areas pretty well.
Four floors of books are neatly organized into different sections. The place is very densely packed and I swear it is bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside.
On the first floor ("second floor" to Americans) is a coffee shop, but unsold merchandise is not permitted. As there are VERY few seats in the rest of the place, I found it difficult to make selections. I am one of those who really likes to read a bit before making a commitment.
My main focus for the day: A good selection of computer books. Not only the more modern 2010 ones, but a few of the "classic" 2003 are waiting on the shelves. Programming guides as well as administrator handbooks.
4 floors of books in the middle of London.
(there's a free toilet on the top floor, behind the art books. Don't tell anyone)
It's a pretty brilliant shop. They aren't affiliated with my uni, so I don't shop there so much as my alumni card consistently fails to impress them, but if you need it today, they've likely got it, unless it's one of those things you have to get via the Electric Internets.
Staff favourites? Always good & fresh (and digging up old classics)
Live readings & signings? Yup.
A stunning graphic novel selection? That too, though they should really call them comics. Even if they're for grown-ups.
A mile of books underground? Blackwell's in Oxford for that one.
Huge bookstore (four floors) specializing in new books on Charing Cross Road (road of bookstores). While I dig what the other Yelpers are saying about this bookstore, it just doesn't do it for me. Frankly, it's just too big, and reminds me of a UK Borders more than anything else. Frankly I want some sort of intimacy in my bookstores, and this just feels like a big department store. I have asked the staff various questions, and haven't found them super-knowledgeable either (they told me for instance a book was only print-on-demand, which was BS and just a way of covering up that they didn't have it in stock). If you must have a new book now, today, then this is probably a good place to go, but I would much prefer to either buy on Amazon or go to a smaller, more selective bookstore, where the staff know what they are talking about and the overall quality is much higher.
Bottom-line: Don't confuse size with quality.
I came to this bookstore because I was looking for 84 Charing Cross Rd.
I read the book and thought that it was amazing. So, 84 Charing Cross Rd has sadly become a Pizza Hut.
Instead, I walked into Foyles and I was impressed with the amount of titles that they offer. Some of the books that they sell are not available for retail in Canada.
This store is also conviently located close to the theater district in West London. Yes, it is in Soho.
First of all, my gf bought a small travel book guide and it told us the wrong location of Foyle's!
This book store brand is super old, which I love because nothing is ever old in the US so of course I was excited.
They has my favorite author with different covers here, printer in the UK, so I had to get two!
Also, double plus for the associate who gave me directions to used book stores locations!!
Definitely come get your books here!
I absolutely love Foyles.
There is something about being in a place with such history, with floor after floor filled to the brim of some of the best books in print that I find incredibly inspiring.
Foyles not only has an incredible mix of very niche books with the mainstream and best sellers, but I was absolutely blown away by the number of books on computing they sell.
From books on Twitter to C# to how to set up your own server, I've not seen a selection like this since wandering into a Borders in the Silicon Valley.
Better than Waterstones and Borders (may it rest in peace), Foyles is by far the best (and biggest) book shop in London. Just make sure you give yourself and adequate amount of time to browse, as you could easily spend your entire afternoon here!
Foyles : Books :: Warren Buffet : Money
Powell's, Tattered Cover, Elliott Bay Book Company, Oxford Books (RIP) ... nice, but no cigar.
By the time I stepped back into Charing Cross Road, my vision was blurred and my knees wobbly. And it wasn't from the diesel fumes. I stumbled around the way to recover with a coffee in the window at Balans Cafe.
You cannot come to London and not stop by this place. Cannot.
For me Foyles is the perfect bridge between the independent book store you can get lost in and those big, old heartless chains like Borders and Waterstones. You know you're not buying into a big chain but also you know it won't take you 2 hours of searching around shops to find the book you want and with their book ordering service and Foyalty card you really can't go wrong.
Saying that I can, of course, get lost in this shop drifting mindlessly from Politics to Philosophy through Latin texts and back to the History section. Every time I'm in London I seem to spend £100 or more in this place and I've been known to spend three or four hours just looking and picking up books. As well as the books there's a good selection of your standard book-shop stationary objects on the ground floor, they also stock Smoke a great London .. fanzine I suppose you'd call it. And there's also Ray's Jazz Café a love which could easily spread over into a different review.
Saying that I have a few minor gripes. The lifts that go up from the ground floor nearest the entrance smell of god-knows-what and it's really not pleasant. The staff are either super-lovely, friendly, happy and helpful or grumpy and abrupt I have to say it's mostly the former but there are a few of the latter hanging around. Apart from that it's pretty much the perfect place in London to do some serious book shopping without sacrificing liberal guilt or ease of shopping.
It's much more than a bookstore. I feel home...
I was enchanted by the South American Pan Pipes and Celtic Spirit from the Global Journey music box on the lower ground fl. Later on I discovered the music store on the 3rd fl, rare collections from 9 inches to wild int'l titles and sheet music. Folyes even has the live Ray's Jazz events a couple times a week at the Cafe (bit.ly/1wLzEZ)
The service quality of the Foyles staff members is also top notch. Without providing my name and details, I walked in late at a poetry event feeling a bit embarrassed. Surprisingly, during the intermission, the staff member recognised me and provided the raffle ticket and my discount coupon. Moreover, at the panel discussion, one panellist wanted to reference a book and the book was in his hand within 5 mins.
Quite a few of my friends told me at Foyles you find more titles and selection choices. I enjoyed my own little surprises on interesting titles that I discovered, such as the Paris Review, and the Guinness official celebration of 250th anniversary.
Finally, if you're a book lover, you will also enjoy the experience walking up and down the Charing Cross road :)
As a writer there is nothing more peaceful than walking around being surrounded by beautiful and interesting books.
What is the best part about this Foyles however?
The PIRANHAS. Yes, they have a piranha fish tank in the children's section of the store. Absolutely amazing.
The store has other smaller ones around Central London, but this is the best one to visit, having floors upon floors of different types of literature to suite anyone's needs.
There is also a small charming cafe that usually is packed. The smells wafting on that floor is all things heavenly.
The staff are extremely knowledgable and friendly, if you are looking for a certain type of book (especially if it's a lesser known American author) you should be able to find it here or the staff will direct you to where you can find it.
A another fabulous place to visit on Charring Cross road.
This Foyles would probably be a good place to haunt when I'm dead. The main stairwell sort of smells like a toilet, but that's probably the residue of souls who had that idea before I did.
This place is huge! Where else can I get sidetracked from my drama research and end up reading about raising miniature livestock for an hour? I haven't been into the cafe, but the hum of conversation in there is somehow soothing when I'm browsing the cookbook section.
The folks manning the register on that floor are also really hilarious if you like eavesdropping. A gem from when I was visiting: one of the ladies explaining why she uses different towels for every part of her body when she dries off after a shower and how obsessive she is about sorting her laundry...and then going on to complain about someone else's picky habits!
This place is the mother of all bookstores. It has three levels of departments (including fiction/non fiction, art, and guess what else--- a medical department!)
I loved the different departments and the layout of this place, it really is pretty good store for you to get all your shopping done in one place. The thing that baffled me though is the 2nd floor medical reference department. Something you hardly see anywhere else! They sold scrubs, steths, shoes, and the most medical books I ever found in one place.
My heaven! I could spend hours here.
Yes, it is mayhem inside.
Yes, it can be hard to find what you are looking for.
Yes, it can be overwhelming.
But it is all worth it. Their selection of books is amazing, especially when it comes to obscure texts. I found a rare anatomy book here that was completely out of print... AND at a fair price.
This store is simply a classic, and as the previous posts have said, it has definitely evolved over the years. I look forward to days where I can wander the aisles with no itinerary and simply browse the seemingly endless stacks of books.
3 stars as a bookstore; it's just okay. Sure the place is huge, but the selection is poor / disorganized. They say a certain book is in stock, and then it's no where to be found and the excuse is that they carry a "limited" (IE: 1 or 2 per title) amount. Very frustrating, especially if you've called in advance.
Also, more staff is needed. I've had trouble on multiple occasions finding a staffer who can help me locate a particular novel. They always seem preoccupied with something else.
Once, the book I ended up purchasing was noticeably flipped through. But as I was dying to read it, and it was the last one left, I ended up purchasing it anyway. Sort of disappointing because I like to keep my books in immaculate condition.
Pricing is also occasionally off here. I've seen books retail here for £6 - £8 more than at Waterstone's, for no good reason. I don't understand that at all. A recent example would be The Flavour Thesaurus.
The cafe doesn't do Foyles any favours. It's always packed (half of the people not eating or drinking anything either) and the one coffee I did manage to get after some copious effort did nothing to heighten my spirits. Perhaps if a band was playing or the stage was in use. Alas.
I was tempted to leave two stars for the detestable quality of the toys and other non-book fare available here. I've gifted a small plush once that ended up having a hole in the seam. So embarrassing. The worst was when I purchased holiday crackers last Christmas from Foyle's and they didn't even work. Talk about putting a damper on the holiday spirit.
I think I will stick to Waterstone's and ordering from Amazon.
I LOVE Foyles. It's as simple as that. I'd even go so far as to say that this is possibly the best book store in London. You can quote me on that.
When I was studying and had the arduous - and frequent - task of tracking down obscure Derrida/Sartre/Debord writings, Foyles was there for me. Their exceptional staff always going well beyond the call of retail duty to locate hard to find texts.
When I was looking for a book on the symbolism of the mask in African art as a birthday gift for a friend I found not one, but two books that fit my needs. And at different price points to match.
Foyles is also blessed with an unusually good cafe in the form of Ray's Jazz. This is the place to enjoy abtruse herbal teas and soya lattes in between browsing for books and music. Foyles is bona fide bookworm bliss.
When you think of bookshop - you think of dusty shelves and library type staff. I was told Foyles is the most famous bookshop in London. Why? Apparently in the older days, all books were sorted by the authors name and it was almost an impossible mission to find something.
Today everything is sorted by themes and they have indeed a broad and deep selection of any interesting book I was looking for . From business guides, science, medical, architecture, art, mathematics, languages, biographies and best sellers such as Jamie's Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver to music.
Foyles demonstrates a successful retail concept and it is one of these shops when you ask for advice you get a quality answer - as you know this person has read the book.
This place is mammoth. It's the go to place for books in London. Old as old school gets.
Many an hour can be lost in here and has been lost to the annals of time.
Foyles is one of the most amazing bookstores I have been to. It seems to be more of a library, with books spread out over five floors, and comprehensive listings for each subject.
I came here for an event organized by Wastafari, a literary magazine, that had four authors from across the world talk about their favorite work. They even had some complimentary glasses of wine and nibbles. Its really amazing that this space in the bookstore can be used by for literary events.
Another reason this place gets five stars are the wonderfully well informed staff, who seem to have degrees in database mining combined in hospitality. And there is fresh coffee on tap nearby at Rays...
Foyles by the sound of it could pass off as a confectionary shop. Contrary to what I imagine, its truly a big collection of books to bury ones head in.
This bookstore is very carefully categorised and one can order a book if it doesnt exist in the store. They provide you with a posting service or you can even pick up yourself if you perfer. Books for all readers and interests, they even have music especially a specialist Jazz and Blues collection.
A sound place for acquiring your taste in reading. 50% discount from now until Christmas on a new list of books everyday. Check in store for more details.
Foyle's is one of my favourite bookshops of all time. It has an excellent range and selection but at the same time doesn't feel like a big impersonal corporate bookshop. The graphic novel selection is my particular favourite bit and generally the whole place emits a pro-intelligence air, which makes you feel clever and part of the smart & cool group all at once. What isn't great about Foyle's is the price and their deals are often not wonderful, most books sell for the RRP. In this day and age, that's a rum deal as anyone with fingers can get a cheaper price on the internet. Of course, you don't get the calm, breezy, browsy experience of getting to finger all the books first, or stumbling upon something you had no idea you wanted.
They also host quite a few readings and things.
The jazz café at Foyle's is a lovely place to sit with latte and an overpriced sandwich to read your recent purchases or use the free wi-fi internet. There is a high stool bench which looks out on to Charing Cross Road so you can dreamily people-watch this is particularly nice to do if the weather is awful outside and you are toasty warm and cupping a hot beverage watching the schmucks schlep through the rain/hail/snow/grade 5 hurricane.
Leg-shakingly-strong organic, fair-trade Rocket Fuel Coffee is the reason to stop here amongst the crazy jazz cats of London. On the 1st Floor of Foyles, this is Ray's Jazz, nestled in the bookshop, serving uncommonly good coffee. The almost hidden door is on Charing X Road, with a neon sign - go up the stairs and follow that delicious roasted bean aroma!
Located virtually opposite denmark st, we like to stare into the eyes of surprised top-deck passengers and pigeons from the first floor window, as we munch on rather nice hippy-inspired tea-time dishes. The latte here is happily one of the best hits in town, and for us geeks, the place is laptop friendly, although at peak times they request you sit at the window seats to make room for proper customers. Don't bother getting your kit out at lunchtime though, this place does get a bit rammed at times. But that's Jazz, baby.
Mmm Latte and other drinks : around £2.00,
Cakes: around £3.00 -4.00
other food / drink available
A very very cool for cats venue. Pleasant coffee shop , good coffee and food, love the cakes.
You may sit on a stool looking out of the window, or even share a table, it's not very big, and usually only a couple of staff, so sometmes a little wait it's not fast food, but very pleasant food.
Add to that a jazz audio shop with a huge range of jazz cd/discs.. and on some saturday lunchtimes a little live jazz, I've seen Jonathan Gee, and Tony Kofi.
The clientelle naturally ooze mtropolitan cool. you can try and fit in!!!
Update I don't like taking stars off places, but Foyles actually forced me to drink my coffee sharpish and move elsewhere today. If you're going to advertise your free wi-fi, then you should at least make it work. The internet here is notoriously unreliable and I can't work from here. Shame, because other than that it's pretty damn perfect. Update
I came here for the private viewing of Londonist's Slow Exposure exhibition and I was shocked to find this morning that I haven't reviewed this place yet!
Foyles is one of the best book shops in London. The jazz cafe is one of the best cafes in London. The jazz artist the book are some of the best there is. Throw in a decent coffee and some good company, and you've got Christmas.
Do I need to say anymore?
Oh alright then. They have disabled access - including the loos. The coke comes in bottles. the staff are friendly. There's free wi-fi (although how you'd get any work done with the book shop next door is beyond me. I would be mostly shopping). You can get a beer too if you like.
They could have easily popped a normal chain cafe in here like other bookshops, but Foyles have gone one better.
A great place to sit and people watch while drinking glorious Monmouth coffee, eyeing up the delectable cakey goods and pretending to do lots of serious work on your laptop.
The cafe used to be on a different floor, which confused the hell out of me recently when I started frequenting the place again after a few years off. After waiting very patiently for the lift (heavy bags), going up to where I thought it was and wandering around like a startled rabbit, blinking in confusion, I eventually read the floor guide and located it. Reward for such foolishness = one lovely cup of coffee.
Another favorite bookshop of minethis is a great place for non fiction of any kond. There is quite literally a section on anything. It has an exhaustive music section, and an antique book area.
It is a bit tempting to become embroiled in a quest to teach yourself the harp in 3 easy steps or read all about economics.
In that sense it is a little dangerous, especially for those of us who can't resist an unusual looking read.
I do love to while away an afternoon here, although I can only enter either with a trusted friend who wont let me go crazy with the credit card or on a strictly cash only basis!
Ok I admit I've delayed a bit on writing this review, I don't want this place to get any more popular than it already is! Ah well...
Ray's was initially started and run by Jorge Fernandez (now run by his wife), who co-owns the Fernandez & Wells chain.
Mr Fernandez is also the former GM of Monmouth Coffee Co., you may then understand that Ray's has all the makings of being a gem of a place. The proto-good-coffee-place of London, you might say.
It's a fair bit cheaper than the F&W outlets, but still offers the same great quality food. The coffee (Monmouth) as you'd expect, is top notch, though this usually does depend on the person making it. Every now and then you'll get someone who's a bit of a newbie and may not make one's flat white to one's exacting expectations.
The music is particularly good here. Though I've never attended any live jazz session, whoever selects the background music (not strictly jazz, thankfully, but definitely not mainstream) is pretty awesome, as they have introduced me (and some members of my family) to some great, great music.
I do have a few problems with this place though, which is why I can only give it 4 stars. Ray's gets amazingly packed, so good luck finding a seat if you get there after, say 12h30 on the weekend (good atmosphere though).
Ray's also seems to run out of food very quickly, so if you've made your mind up on what you're going to eat, before you get there, I'm afraid you may be forced to change it quite quickly once you hit that queue to get served.
- more affordable than F&W
- great food
- great coffee
- great music
- usually friendly (though sometimes stressed) staff
- packed to the rafters (get there early)
- limited supply of food
- only one toilet, bit harsh for such a popular place
Oh yeah, bookshop heaven. Foyles is among the other bookshops down Charring Cross road (sadly the massive Borders is no more of course) but I think it is my favourite of the bunch.
As well as a wide selection they also have a space that has been used for art in the past - they had an excellent Post Secret exhibition in there at one point a few years back.
Great for a browse and easy to spend an afternoon in particularly on a rainy day
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