Leakey’s Bookshop is possibly my favourite bookshop ever. Located in Inverness, the most northerly city in the United Kingdom and capital of the Scottish Highlands, this one of a kind bookshop is literally an old Gaelic church filled with books. Hallelujah, finally a religion worth waking up early for on Sundays! Considered Scotland’s largest second hand bookstore with a collection of approximately 100,000 carefully selected books, curated over the course of thirty years.
Charles Leakey first established his little bookshop in 1979, back in the day before kindles and audio book subscriptions posed a threat to booksellers. The bookshop has moved a few times during its long history, before taking up permanent residence in its current abode nearly four decades ago, inside a renovated 17th Century church of all places!
The enduring popularity of Leakey’s owes to the warm and welcoming ambiance that embraces you as you enter, combined with the high calibre of the books they acquire. After forty years of trading, Leakey’s seems to be doing something right.
The old Greyfriars Hall may look like the perfect space for a bookshop now, but it must have taken some imagining at the time. With lofty high ceilings, a spiral staircase, elegant stained glass windows, quiet reading nooks, and a crackling wood fire planted right in the middle of the shop, this bookshop is certainly not lacking in charm. Featuring floor to ceiling bookshelves that wrap around the walls, towering stacks of books, and shoppers fossicking through the boxes of books planted around the store, it’s quite overwhelming at first glance. Books piled up as far as the eye can see, yet despite the apparent chaos, the books are categorised neatly and stored in an orderly fashion.
There is a lounge area on the second story where you can read or simply soak up the panoramic views of the bookshop. The second story is also home to vintage maps, prints, beautiful folios and collector sets. One of the greatest tragedies of coming from Australia is the limited luggage allowance. Stuffing my suitcase with heavy books at the beginning of my six week trip was not really a wise choice, but I could have spent an eternity perusing the shelves and picking out my dream library collection. In the end, I left with a couple of light books, preferring to save my limited pennies for holiday essentials, such as food and shelter.
Leakey’s is easily the most visually spectacular bookshop I have ever stepped foot inside. It has a quirky charisma, impeccable customer service, and offers a peaceful retreat for those who want to sink into a chair and relax.
Inverness, United Kingdom
Phone +44 1463 239947
Opening Hours Daily from 10am to 5:30pm
Inverness is a lovely small city nestled on the banks of the River Ness near the mouth of Loch Ness. Inverness is also the gateway to the Northern Highlands and a convenient central location to explore the neighbouring sights. Nearby you’ll find the Culloden Battlefield where the Jacobite uprising between the Highlanders and the English Redcoats came to a bloody end, the nearby Cairngorm National Park that is home to Britain’s only free-ranging herd of reindeer, or see wild bottlenose dolphins swimming in the crystal clear waters of Moray Firth. There is so much to see and do!