Take a look at the pictures and you'll see why Leakey's has such a following.
When you enter your mind can not get to grips with the sheer volume of books around you. Many are piled, all higgeldy piggeldy, around a man sitting behind a counter. Near him is a huge wood burning stove surrounded by logs. The immediate surroundings are shelves upon shelves of books divided by subject.
Ahead is a black spiral staircase which leads up the cafe. The birdseye view of the shop you get from the cafe is slightly less overwhelming but really gives you an indication of the vastness of this book collection. From this point you also get a great look at the stained glass windows.
We had coffees, which were acceptable, and the staff were lovely and very accommodating to everyone who popped in. The special of the day was a mackerel salad which looked bright and tasty.
After my coffee I went for a looksie around the prints section. The prints seem to be mainly hand printed, hand coloured pages from old books which could possibly not be restored. They run from £8-50 and many have a sticker 'guaranteeing' them to be over 100 years old.
I don't know if it's the concept (giant church becomes second hand book shop/super cool cafe) or the novelty (oh my goodness! all the books) that I like the most but I definitely enjoyed the hour we spent in here.
What was only meant to be a wee zip-in, zip-out bathroom break while passing through Inverness turned into a bigger last-second change of schedule and canceling other plans to spend a few more hours in Leakey's. Absolutely no regrets.
° Books? Oooooh yes, please.
° Second-hand books? All the better!
° Fresh, made-from-scratch food in the bookstore cafe?! Sod the Aberdeen dinner plans - we're staying here for a bite!
° All those shelves! Ooooh, look at the woodstove! Pop more coins in the meter - it'll be awhile :)
It's just so lovely to simply BE in the shop and take it all in. All those words in all those books, which were once owned by someone else, whose pages were once turned by the hands of fore-readers, having traveled who knows where and all over to eventually land here, waiting hopefully, ever-patiently to find new owners, new homes. Who knows what the history of each used book is, the story behind the story behind the book's own story... nothing like a darn fine used bookstore to get a sentimental turn out of me. Oh but *this* one, *this* particular bookstore is epic and wonderful - is alone worth the repeated drive up to Inverness to spend a few happy hours, whether purposefully or merely in passing.
How we hadn't heard of Leakey's before, I've no idea. How we've never been, despite passing through this part of Inverness several times, a near scandal! Here's to having put a final end to such silliness!
What a fantastic used bookshop and cafe! It's housed in an old Gaelic church that was refurbished in 1793 (!!) You read that right...1793!! It boasts that it's the largest 2nd hand bookshop in all of Scotland - and boy does it look it! You really could get lost for hours upon hours here. I certainly wish we had more time in Inverness just to visit this place alone.
The cafe is up a spiral staircase overlooking the bookshop. Great daily specials, sandwiches, soup, desserts, coffee and free WiFi (ask for the password). The cafe is open 10am-4:30pm. We enjoyed all of our food - just like homemade... only better!
This was the perfect Inverness lunch stop for us. Old books and a cafe, who could ask for more? So very glad we happened upon you!
Bookshops are pretty antiquated this day and age, but Leakey's reminds us of a time when bookshops were hip. During a short visit to Inverness, I practically ran here before it closed for the day just to experience the hype, and it was worth every stride. As you enter the shop, your eyes go a little berserk as your tiny human brain cannot process the share volume of books occupying every nook. As I am a more visual person, my favorite section was the vintage prints and maps located both downstairs and upstairs. Even though spiral staircases in Chinese Fung Shui is a deadly sin, the black spiral staircase in the middle of the shop only added some extra splash of spunk. LOVED everything about Leakey's.
5 stars for all the books and the idea! the menu is okish, nothing special. the books an the venue are great though ;)
It's an amazing place if you love books! He buys and sells books - speicialising in old, collectable scottish books.
Leakeys is the perfect place to spend an afternoon on a cold winter's day. The romance of building is astounding.
The upstairs cafe is also magic. The salads are fantastic - the salad dressing is simply the best.
The service is fantastic, quick and efficient.
What a fabulous place!
These places are so rare these days.
Great place to look for treasure in the book department.
One of the few places left in Inverness which has withstood the vast changes seen since we first came to the area in the 70s is Leakies Bookshop and Cafe.
We live nearly 100 miles further north from Inverness so when we go shopping in 'town' we have already driven for 2 hours and ready for lunch.
Leakies is different to other cafes in that it is first and foremost a second-hand bookshop, with huge bookshelves full of all manner of adventure and secrets bound up in leather or paperback.
As a matter of fact, I have been known to arrive in Inverness, pop into Leakies for lunch and stay for hours - only remembering that I came for 'shopping' hours ago and have to dash round the town shops before they close!
The cafe is situated upstairs, reached by a winding staircase. Soups, quiche, salads and sandwiches are the staples and very nice they are too. Not very expensive either.
In the winter, there is a roaring log fire situated slap-bang in the middle of the bookshop with nice big leather chairs arranged quite handily close by. If I lived in Inverness, I doubt I'd never be out of the place.
We now have Borders in Inverness where you can grab a coffee and sandwich from upstairs - but it pales in comparison to Leakies.
Highly recommended for an unusual dining experience!
This could be some setting for a Harry Potter novel only it's better - a big crazy old building, which I gather was once a Gallic church and is now a huge second hand book store with a little cafe on the upper landing. It was a cold day when I first stumbled onto this place and in the center of the store (a book store mind you) was a huge wood burning fireplace -- so cool (ummm I mean warm)
I really like Leakey's. It's great to have a good look around the books and pick up a few good reads then head upstairs to the cafe and have a nice drink and something to eat. I've had lunch here once before and it was really nice. Had a nice sandwich and thought the prices were good too. They have an amazing selection of books with walls covered with them and even in stacks on the floor so you are pretty likely to find a good read there and they don't charge too much for the books either- around £2 when I last bought a book from there. You can also buy prints from Leakey's too.
A lot of people seem to love this place but it just feels a little haphazard and unorganised. As secondhand bookshops go it isn't really up to the standard of some notable (all be it much further away) others.
Great place to spend a wet afternoon, never know what you will find. Nice cafe upstairs if you fancy a quick lunch or coffee.
If only all bookshops were like Leakey's. You can settle in for the day, keep warm, eat, read, talk, and browse the amazing range of stock. Even buy! Charles Leakey observes the ancient and critical rules which used to be displayed in Blackwell's, before they went over to footage when you come to Leakey's, as once you did to Blackwell's, no-one will bother you unless you ask. And the ambience is still pretty much as Thornton's once was, but with the advantage of the spiral ascent to a good cafe and more books. Typical of Inverness to greet the establishment of a full-blown University by losing not just one bookshop but two and allowing the survivor to retreat from the High Street to its dreadful Eastgate Centre. It should make amends by placing a preservation order on Leakey's now. It is going to need it.
this is my favourite book shop in inverness. it is located in the up and coming but actually still dreary old town part of the city. there is a roaring fire every day which is great for a heat. i haven't sold them any books - i tend to give them to charity shops, but i have bought a ferw books and had lunch on numerous occasions. the books are mostly second hand but not all are cheap - they aren't given away but there are some great bargains to be had. there are photos, prints and maps also available to buy. it can feel quite imposing when you go in as there are gazillions of books in the place, but they are well catalogued and it is easy to find what you are looking for. there is an upper level where there is a little tea room/cafe. they do meals and light lunches - soup and sandwiches or a salad sort of a deal. the food is well priced and is a great place to spend an hour just taking in the atmosphere of this fine grand old building. well worth a visit
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