Some of you may be wondering what I used the wonder all the time, when ducking out of the office for a ‘cheeky coffee’ at 11am on a Tuesday:
- How are there so many people walking on the streets at 11am on a Tuesday?
- Why aren’t they at work? And
- What wrong choices have I made in my life that I can’t be gallivanting around London at 11am on a Tuesday?
Well, I can now tell you the answer to these questions: they are probably trying to start their freelance and blogging career, and they probably are struggling to get their lazy butts to work.
Yes, this may be the introductory paragraph to my autobiography. I am clearly prone to bouts of procrastination, and no time is it worse than when I’m working at home. My ‘recently watched’ Netflix list may or may not prove this point (Gilmore Girls, The Big Bang Theory…)
I thus have very quickly figured out: in order to get work done, I need to get my lazy self to a cafe, pronto. But this begged the all important question: where are the best cafes to work from in London?
In order to be considered a good “working from home” spot (I use the words ‘home’ and ‘café’ interchangeably in the post, because full-time blogger), a venue has to have the following criteria:
What makes a great working cafe?
- Fast and reliable free wifi
- A toilet (25 cups of coffee a day means many bathroom breaks)
- Some form of lunch/food menu — not just pastries
- Decent coffee
- The ability to stay for at least 3 hours without feeling terribly awkard and, well, British
- Open later than 5pm
- A nice vibe that fosters creativity rather than distractions
Surprisingly, finding a place that fits all those criteria can prove difficult. So if you’re like me, you end up wandering the streets of London, desperately trying to google “a good working café” while bumping into everyone and wasting precious procrastination working time.
Therefore, through many cups of coffee and months of experience, I bring you my current list of the best working from home cafes in the city (thus far).
The Best Cafes to Work from in London
Address: 64-66 Redchurch St, London E2 7DP (entrance on Club Row)
Opening Times: Mon to Sat: 9a.m. – 11p.m. | Sun: 10a.m. – 11p.m.
This one is a bit of a lazy option considering Stag and I live about 5 minutes from here. However, we can both firmly say that this is the best working from home spot we’ve ever tried.
Firstly, it’s open until 11pm, which means Night Owls like us can pick and choose our schedule based off of when we actually want to work. Secondly, it has a wide variety of seats – from sofas to tables – which gives it a collaborative-office-cum-café kind of vibe. The food is delicious, the coffee excellent, the cookies out of this world (I had to taste test to be sure), and with its huge windows and Shoreditch-industrial vibe, it promotes a sense of creativity that I haven’t found with many other places. A huge thumbs up from us.
Final perk: it is also a cinema, which although will make you feel like the biggest hipster in the world, will win you over with it’s comfy seats and cashmere blankets. Yes, I know: cashmere blankets.
Address: 42 Drury Lane, Covent Garden London, WC2B 5AJ
Opening Times: Mon to Fri: 7:30a.m. – 9p.m. | Sat: 9a.m. – 9p.m.
Talk about beautiful, inspiring cafes that promote creativity: this is one of the most beautiful cafes I’ve worked from, a large space with plants everywhere, marble countertops, leather seats and raw, wooden tables. It’s also the only café to make this quasi-carnivore eat vegan: they offer the most delicious aubergine with tahini that I will choose over all the meat options. The coffee is from Workshop, so you know it has to be good.
It also has the right setting for those of us who need to work: the wifi is fast, and while it’s never dead it’s also never packed. I may not come here for lunch everyday, as at £7.95 it’s a bit steep, but if you’re looking for a coffee or the occasional lunch treat right in Covent Garden, it’s the perfect spot.
Address: 96-98 High Street, Islington N1 8EG
Opening Times: Mon to Fri: 7:30a.m. – 6p.m. | Sat: 9a.m. – 6p.m. | Sun: 10am – 5pm
I will warn you now: this place is small, busy, and the food runs out quickly. However, if you plan your day correctly (i.e. don’t show up to ‘begin your day’ at 4 p.m., a la Eire), it’s a gem of a café for working. If you can, grab one of the window seats, as taking a break to watch the people of Angel pass by is a treat. They have a wide variety of cakes to tempt and coffees to keep you alert, and the food – again, while available – is healthy and nourishing.
Address: 7 Boundary St, Shoreditch London E2 7JE
Opening Times: Weekdays: 8a.m.-11p.m
I realise this is an odd choice, considering it’s a restaurant and not a café, but I have two words for you: outdoor veranda. OK, technically I have four words: outdoor veranda and bacon naan. This famed Shoreditch establishment is notoriously difficult to get into, but heading there for breakfast around 9a.m. during the week it’s surprisingly empty, which means you can easily nab a space outside. It’s the best spot I’ve found for being outdoors while still having fast wifi and no glaring sun, so it’s a perfect sunny-summer-day choice.
A bacon naan and a chocolate chai will cost you just under a tenner, which is actually cheaper than a proper breakfast at many others cafes – it is London, after all. They also won’t rush you out, allowing you to enjoy your chai while working. I can only imagine it gets busy again by lunchtime, but definitely a worthwhile choice if your mornings are your café time.
Address: 23-25 Leather Lane, London EC1N 7TE
Opening Times: Weekdays 7:30am-6pm | Weekends 9:30am-5pm
I end up at Prufrock at least once a week, 4 hours at a time – not least because it’s a lovely and brisk 40 minute walk from my flat. There’s something about the basic wooden furniture, minimal interior and serious attitude to coffee that I, very oddly, find unpretentious and easy to work in. It’s also great for the at-home-worker: it’s never empty (so you don’t feel alone), no one seems to mind if you work all day (so you don’t feel awkward), and their corn fritters are mouth watering. If you stop by here, you’ll probably see me. Make sure to say hello.
And if all else fails…
Since I wrote this post a couple of years ago (!) now, the number of shared office space and co-working spaces in London has exploded. Hot-desking may seem more costly upfront, but when you take into consideration many provide you free coffee (and sometimes food!) all day — plus perks such as fast, free wifi, less distraction, and countless networking opportunities — well, the cost seems pretty reasonable. Stag and I are increasingly using hot desks in London to build our businesses over cafes. Just some extra food for thought!