Running from north to south between Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross Road has long been a bastion of London’s shabby chic – the street and adjoining alleyways are home to scruffy cafés, old theatres and pokey music shops;

Denmark Place to the east is a favourite among musos and collectors. This strip used to be a hive of bookstores and although their numbers have dwindled, esoteric remnants remain – in the best shops, you’re more likely to find an extensive section on native American mythology than a stand promoting the Twilight series.

Foyles is the most renowned of the area’s bookstores – it’s arguably the most famous anywhere in London. It’s been updated, but its sheer scale means word-nerds can easily spend hours there.

» WC2  Leicester Square
Great for: Old booksh

Words: Tom Sturrock