It can be hard these days to find a café that truly satisfies the book lover’s desire to curl into a quiet nook with the perfect book undisturbed and simultaneously interact with the charming world of quirky coffee shops. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of the best Glasgow cafés that’ll satisfy the quirky whims of us literature and coffee fanatics who will do almost anything to find the perfect reading spot.
1. Tchai-Ovna, Otago Lane
Strewn with soft rugs and floor cushions, this cool hangout is not much of an advocate for chairs, though if you so desire you can fight for a space on one of the cosy overstuffed armchairs that face each other in front of the hearth. This tiny hidden gem is brimming with the smells of warm yogi chai mixed and over 80 other kinds of delicious tea. There’s even a residential cat – how’s that for café enticement?
Its neighbour is the enigmatic and notorious second-hand bookshop, Voltaire and Rousseau, making Tcai-Ovna even more perfect for curling up with a book for a couple of hours. Don’t expect any shelves or much of an ordering system though. This is the kind of place book lovers can be found sitting on their haunches, rummaging for the next dog-eared wonder to whet their literary appetites.
Don’t write this place off simply because it’s a chain, because if there’s anything that us book lovers know it’s that there is no better café than a café where you can sit surrounded by an endless stream of books. This is perhaps one of my favourite Glasgow cafés to haunt when it comes to satisfying my urges as a blithering book fanatic. Both the Byres Road and Sauchiehall establishments are well lit and serve a fantastic espressos (which, as you know, is the only way one should gauge the rest of an establishment’s coffees). Whilst the former is considerably smaller than the latter, both are the perfect space for any book lover to satisfy their literary urges.
3. Smile Café
This tiny and warmly lit Italian joint is renowned on TripAdvisor for serving the best cup of coffee in the West End. Of all the Glasgow cafés this one is a little bit of a walk from the main belt of the West End but it’s worth it for the beautiful view of the river as you walk over Kelvin Bridge and the warm atmosphere, friendly staff and delicious coffee upon arrival. With its exclusively small space, fairy lights and homely clutter decorating the walls, this is the perfect hideaway for any book lover to lose themselves for a couple of hours.
4. The Trans-Europe Café
This is one for those who get inspired by travel just as much as books. Just steps away from the hubbub of Merchant City, the Trans-Europe reeks of hard battered suitcases covered in stickers, if you know what I mean. With huge maps for walls that’ll tint your pages blue as you read, this is the perfect Glasgow café to hide away with a notebook whilst you pretend for a moment that you could be anywhere in the world. This place should be instantly recognisable to anyone who knows and loves the Glasgow-based Netflix show, Lovesick, starring Johnny Flynn (swoon) and Antonia Thomas (double swoon).
5. The Steamie
Continuing with the rustic, homely vibe, The Steamie offers a warm embrace after a lovely wintery stroll through Kelvingrove Park (providing that’s the direction you’ve come from – if not, take a a detour and get inspired by some really awesome fountains). Everything here is pleasingly intagrammable (although what isn’t in Finnieston?), from their cutesy coffee cups to their apple and cinnamon coated porridge. But for those who simply want to get lost in a book, this quiet and peaceful nook provides the perfect environment.
This Glasgow café is as warm and cosy as the word “offshore” suggests, with its steamed up windows, warm blue timbre and beach-yellow walls. Littered with deep, slouchy armchairs and wide threadbare sofas, be careful not to sit on an enveloped literature student, nestled in for the long haul with a book. As a regular hangout for those with books, notebooks and laptops, the background noise is always gentle and, if you care to tune in, occasionally somewhat intellectual. A lovely addition to Glasgow book lover’s arsenal of cafés!
7. The Mitchell Library
The café in this building is cheap, peaceful and accommodating for absolutely everyone. But this is not why it’s on this list of Glasgow cafés book lovers can’t get enough of. It’s because of it’s location, which is inside of one of the most beautiful buildings in Glasgow, that also happens to be a pretty amazing library. So grab a coffee, put on your headphones and a long coat and feel like you’re in a David Lynch movie on the third floor.
8. The Hillhead Bookclub
Although strictly speaking this is not a café, the Hillhead Bookclub is grand enough to be considered a sequestered room in the Grand Budapest Hotel, though maybe a little broodier. Nestled in the heart of Glasgow’s beloved West End, the converted 20th century cinema is now a huge and quirky space where you can turn up for a coffee, cocktail or game of ping-pong alike. For me however, sitting upstairs on one of its armchairs that overlook the downstairs space with a coffee and a book is amongst some of my most satisfying Glasgow “café” experiences.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a battered notebook or your favourite collection of written words and get moving to any of these Glasgow cafés where you can write, read and dream your afternoon away.