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With the holiday season coming up, these travel coffee table books will make for the perfect gift for your travel loving friend! Or well, you could pick them up for yourself too. Your secret is safe with me! :)
This year has been one for the books for sure. Some months have been worse than others, and I was in a weird funk for most of September. Things are looking up though, and for everyone who left a kind comment on my posts last month, thank you so much. I truly appreciate it.
Anywayyyyyy, getting back to business now. It’ll be fair to say that instead of air miles, most of us have been steadily collecting “home miles”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but even as I savor this experience for what it is, I continue to dream of places that I will visit once this
nightmare season of life is all over.
Over these last few months, I’ve found myself reaching for different forms of escape. Some days, escape looks like reading a book. On other days, cooking up something new. And on some other days, browsing through the travel coffee table books that I’ve amassed over the years, indulging in some armchair travel.
I am an unapologetic fan of coffee table books, expensive though they might be. They not only make for some gorgeous décor props but also serve as pure inspiration. In the case of travel, I know that our traveling days will be back soon, but in the meanwhile, travel coffee table books allow us that window of escape to cities and towns far away.
21 Fabulous Travel Coffee Table Books
I’ve rounded up some of my favourite travel coffee table books from over the years. These would work as amazing pick-me-ups for your travel loving soul as well as your jet-setting friend. There is something here for all sorts of travellers. Travellers who love books. Hikers. Solo women travellers. Francophiles. Slow travel enthusiasts.
Have a browse through this list of 21 gorgeous travel coffee table books and let me know your favourites in the comments below!
The Bucket List: Places to Find Peace and Quiet
This gorgeous book will appeal to all the introverts out there, as well as those seeking a temporary respite from the mad rush of modern lives. The Bucket List: Places to Find Peach and Quiet features wilderness havens in the middle of urban jungles as well as spiritual and meditation retreats across the world. It includes small parks and squares, lovely old churches and spiritual sanctuaries, uncommon museums and galleries, hidden courtyards and gardens, tiny local eateries – and even cemeteries.
You better believe that some of these destinations have been added to my personal bucket list as well!
Gray Malin: Italy
If you’ve been on Instagram over the last decade, you will likely not be a stranger to Gray Malin and his awe-inspiring (and perhaps jealousy-inducing) photography. His latest coffee table book Italy – from last year – covers the Italian coasts from Cinque Terre down to the Amalfi Coast in his signature bright style. There are a lot of brilliant drone shots as well!
It brings back happy memories of my trip to Italy many years ago.
A Booklover’s Guide to New York
Okay, so this isn’t a conventional travel coffee table book in the sense that there are no full bleed images peppered all throughout the book. Rather, there are illustrations aplenty instead.
And yet, something about A Booklover’s Guide to New York transports you right into the heart of the Big Apple, especially if you’ve ever spent an afternoon or two wandering around the many independent bookstores that New York has to offer. You can be certain of finding offbest, indie bookstore recommendations as well through this book.
Hideouts: Grand Vacations in Tiny Getaways
2020 notwithstanding, travel has become a fairly commonplace hobby for our generation. At the same time, the way we travel – or want to travel – has changed a fair bit.
We’re constantly looking for that “something special” on our trips to make one vacation stand out from the other. The tiny, unconventional holiday stay options featured in Hideouts: Grand Vacations in Tiny Getaways could be just that “something special” for our next vacation.
She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild
This inspiring guide is full of ideas and inspirations for female travellers who want to strike out and make their own way around the world on their own terms.
She Explores documents the stories of 40 diverse women on unforgettable journeys in nature. Besides the gorgeous pictures and personal narratives, the book also has useful and practical tips for women planning their own solo adventures.
Even if you’re a confirmed urban traveller, you might find yourself being persuaded to explore more outdoorsy travels once you’re through with the book. Or to take that solo trip you’ve been dreaming of forever.
Vanlife Diaries: Finding Freedom on the Open Road
I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to adopt the vanlife permanently, but damn! this book sure makes it look all so tempting.
Vanlife Diaries features the stories of multiple modern nomads who’ve given up conventional living in favour of the vanlife, replete with breath-taking photography. I love how personal the stories are, and all their experiences make for some beautiful reading.
kate spade new york: places to go, people to see
place to go, places to see is not the newest kid on the block and yet, something about it has timeless appeal.
The photographs are reminiscent of old world glamour, and every time I flip through the book I have this insane desire to just pack my bags and jet off to one of the glamorous locations. Paris, New York City, Amalfi Coast, Marrakech, Tokyo, and St Moritz – they’re all featured in their glorious beauty, and the book is peppered with charming quotes and little nuggets of wisdom.
I absolutely adore this coffee table book!!!
Overview: A New Perspective of Earth
Thanks to the rise of drone cameras, we’re now used to seeing “overview” shots of places from across the world. But Overview: A New Perspective of Earth takes drone photography up several notches, all the way to high definition satellite photographs to present a stellar and breathtaking view of Earth from above. And boy, is it beautiful!
The photographs in this book are not mere eye candy though. It is also a telling tale, in the subtlest of manners, of how human progress has impacted the natural world. It’s a spectacular book to give away as a gift, and also to adorn your bookshelves.
Great Escapes: Africa (The Hotel Book)
I haven’t come across too many coffee table books on Africa which go beyond photographs of the majestic wildlife that the continent boasts of.
In that context, Great Escapes: Africa comes as a welcome surprise. It showcases some of the most stunning hotels across the vast continent. The landscape is a sight for sore eyes and the beautiful interiors will make you want to book your tickets right this minute.
The Monocle Book of Japan
I’m a huge fan of the Monocle publications and their travel guides are fantastic compilations. This detailed volume on Japan is in their trademark style of combining well-written essays and striking photography. There are cute illustrations as well as interesting guides on how to navigate across this massive country.
The Monocle Book of Japan comes across as an ode to the country’s endlessly fascinating culture, and it is as informative as it is beautiful, covering food, art, popular culture and a lot more.
Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs from a Year in Space
Space and its vast, unexplored beauty continues to remain the final frontier for travel. Until commercial space travel becomes a reality, we’ll have to make do with images supplies by NASA or say, the Hubble Telescope.
Or alternatively, we could browse through these stunning images taken by Scott Kelly documenting his stay on the ISS. The awe-inspiring photographs featured in Infinite Wonder are absolutely marvellous and make you realise the vast scope of our planet and the universe.
The Hidden Tracks: Wanderlust – Hiking Adventures off the Beaten Path
I am so not a hiker, and yet these kind of travel books make me wish I was. The Hidden Tracks: Wanderlust features spectacular walking trails and hiking destinations and would make for a fabulous gift for your avid hiker friend.
I love that it features trails from across the world and while it does have some tidbits of useful information in terms of practical matters and trail descriptions, you should really be buying this book for the photographs alone. I mean, look at that cover!
If The Hidden Tracks covers hikes and trails from across the world, Wanderlust USA is all about The Great American Hike. It does a fantastic job of portraying the diversity of America’s landscape.
It’s comprehensive in the sense that it covers ideas for epic hiking adventures as well as more manageable day hikes. The photography is stunning and would be a perfect gift for any outdoorsy person in your life.
Travel Anywhere (And Avoid Being a Tourist)
I’ll admit – this book is a little more of a travel guide than a travel coffee table book. And yet, I had to include it in this roundup.
Travel Anywhere is quite unlike most travel guides out there, and it inspires you to deeper than just tourist level travel. It truly is the perfect travel guide for the modern traveller. The accompanying photographs are also stunning and there is a little something for everyone. There are also helpful interviews and amusing anecdotes peppered throughout the book as well.
prettycitylondon: Discovering London’s Beautiful Places
London continues to be one the most visited cities in the world for a reason. prettycitylondon goes beyond the usual tourist hotspots to showcase everyday beauties from around the city.
I wouldn’t say that it’s much of a travel guide, but the neighbourhoods showcased do give you a good sense of places to explore in London beyond the main attractions. The book is rich with photographs of cute cafes, quiet street corners, adorable bakeries and so many more such little things that lend character to a city.
PS – prettycitynewyork is also a worthy title in this series!
Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views
This is a Paris coffee table book with a different. Paris Views is an intimate portrayal of the city and its residents. In an almost voyeuristic fashion, we’re invited into the private lives of Parisians as they go about their daily lives.
Of course, in capturing Parisians through their windows, we also get a ringside view of the intricate architecture of the city. There’s a follow up book on Italian Views which looks just as fascinating.
Slow Travel: A Movement
“Slow” anything has become quite the buzzword in the last few years. And for good reason. There is more to life than just constantly rushing from point A to point B.
Which is exactly the point of Slow Travel: A Movement. It’s about reclaiming travel in a way that makes sense to you. The book details places, activities, tours and experiences that encourage you to travel at your own pace. Above all, it’s a book to inspire you to savour your travels, rather than just make it yet another thing that you rush through.
Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places
In a roundup of travel books, NatGeo and/or Lonely Planet had to finally show up, right? To be fair though, there are so many travel coffee table books from their publications that it really is difficult to pick one!
Destinations of a Lifetime features photographs and practical details of 225 stunning places from around the world. There are some amazing travel ideas covered in this book, though I find that it’s fairly US-centric. Nonetheless, it makes for some excellent browsing and may very well inspire your next travel plan!
Patterns of India
I am allowed to include one book from my own country, right??!!?? And sure, while it says Patterns of India, the subtext is actually “a journey through colors, textiles & the vibrancy of Rajasthan”. Rajasthan is a large north-western state in India, extremely popular with travellers, both domestic and international.
Colour is omnipresent in India, be it in the clothes we wear, the architecture, the markets – just about everything. Christine Chitnis uses that as a base to showcase some stunning photographs, capturing everyday details as well as intricate architectural features from the state of Rajasthan. It’s a rich, vibrant book, and manages to convey Indianess without necessarily resorting to cliched tropes.
Mr & Mrs Smith Presents: The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms
I love a well-appointed hotel room and have had the unbelievable good fortune of being able to stay in some amazing ones in my travels. This stunning book only deepens that love a little more.
The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms features 35 rooms from some of the world’s most famous hotels. There are additional details about each hotel and also the areas around it. Coming from Mr & Mrs Smith of the online travel club fame (not Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie*!), you know that these recommendations would be stylish, luxurious and delectable.
* I would totally dig a book of hotel recommendations from Brad Pitt and/or Angelina Jolie, by the way!!!
#wanderlust: The World’s 500 Most Unforgettable Travel Destinations
Okay, so this book doesn’t release till 10th November, but created by popular Instagrammer Sabina Trojanova of @girlvsglobe fame, I think this should be a good one!
If her peppy images on Instagram are anything to go by, #wanderlust should be filled with bright and happy images from around the world!
So well, there you have a it. A list of 21 amazing travel coffee table books that you can add to your bookshelves or gift someone. What books would you add to this list? I’d love to hear from you!