I love a good book, I really do, I also love a good old cup of coffee. So why not combine the two? Southampton’s West Quay Waterstones has undergone a bit of a makeover in the last month or so, unveiling a new café on the lower level. So when Lex suggested I come along with her to see it all at their soft launch , I just couldn’t resist. The combination of books and coffee isn’t exactly a sparkling new idea, we’ve all sat in the Costa section of a Waterstones after using up all our energy looking through an array of books, right? This new café however shines with an ‘in house’ quality, extending the love of books through to the decor, with each table featuring a framed book cover.
Not only is it an ideal place for book worms to refuel, it is a hub of creativity in the making. For one thing there’s the simple fact that each table has a plug socket for any budding writers to type away their life memoirs for hours on end, as well as the more psychological feeling that you are surrounded by books, thus the creativity of others. You’re not just shoved into a corner as part of another enterprise, this is something a little more special with a warming atmosphere.
Now let’s talk about the food and drink. As far as I’m aware there’s a whole bunch of homemade food as well as some little nibbles here and there. May I add that it’s pretty damn affordable, it might just have to be my new lunch-break retreat. Upon arrival we were offered some free cake – SCORE! There were plenty of choices, including some fruity chocolate tiffin, a selection of gluten free cakes and a vegan battenberg. In terms of drinks we enjoyed a latte made with almond milk. There’s also the option of dairy and soya, Lex and I thought we’d go for something we had never tried before, seeing as it was free after all. That’s catering for a fair few dietary requirements right from the launch, making it apparent that a lot of thought went into the menu. From what I can remember they use locally sourced ingredients, again contributing to that ‘in house’ vibe. As if it that wasn’t enough, behind the cakes sat a variety of flavours of jam to buy. Hey don’t mind me, just popping in to my local Waterstones to pick up some jam!
Having finished our coffee it soon became apparent that there were other free drinks on offer. Free wine in fact. At this point we had decided to take a look at the rest of the lower level. This part of the shop is full of food and cookery books as well as some children books AND A SLIDE. Yep, so when the adults are sipping on their coffee, the kids have a little indoor play area surrounded by a ton of books. Books that took Lex and I down memory lane. I also never thought that I’d be drinking a glass of red wine while browsing through the children’s books. Oh well. We spoke about how certain books would definitely be read to our own children, IN THE VERY EXTREME DISTANT FUTURE. Yeah not right now, no thank you, not for me! It was quite cute though, the list generally consisted of a mixture of books we were read as children and books we hadn’t heard of but appeal to our own personalities as grown ups, that we’d one day (very far away) want to pass on to our children.
Anyway I’m sidetracking. Also downstairs there seemed to be the arts section. I don’t know what that says about those interested in the arts – to be next to the children’s section. Is that to say we’re more child like in our mind set? I’m probably, in fact most definitely, reading into this far too much, but that’s not always a bad thing. It’s good to delve a little deeper sometimes and I certainly think I take some things for granted, so often just seeing them as they are and not giving them much more thought. But hey, that’s a whole different blog post in itself.
The point is, the new look Waterstones is wonderful, it was great to finally see it all open again and it’s super satisfying to return to dedicated genre sections – simple things eh? I’m certainly going to be frequenting the café for the foreseeable future and you should definitely pay it a visit the next time you’re in Southampton.