As a follow up to my post about not needing (and in fact deliberately not having) an office – here – I thought it would be useful to point out some of the best places to work in London that are free (or at least the price of a coffee). The following are my go-to places for wifi and a cuppa.
King’s Cross has changed so much in the last few years. I had an office off York Way for a few months in 2013/14 and Central St Martin’s had just moved to the area. At that time there was only the St Pancras Hotel, which was OK in the main lobby bit, but they’ve since started charging a minimum of £12 to be there so I don’t bother with that anymore.
Towards Euston there’s the Pullman Hotel – it’s expensive for what it is though. There’s a Notes in amongst the new bits of King’s Cross and sitting upstairs there is pretty good. Another good spot is Granger & Co, especially for poached eggs at breakfast time. (Although if you want a real breakfast treat around there go to Dishoom – not to work though – the food is too good so should be shared with a good pal therefore don’t have your laptop open at the same time).
Nobu have opened a new hotel behind The Hoxton – nice and quiet.
Another one east-ish is the CitizenM overlooking the Tower of London – go up to the 7th floor to their ‘SocietyM’ bit and talk your way in.
I discovered that Ottolenghi has a Spitalfields branch now – I’m sure this is the best, normal, non-hipster coffee I’ve had – it’s quiet for a sit-in breakfast and you get loads of food – great value. (Balans Soho Society, Kensington, does rival it for coffee but has poor wifi sadly).
An easy winner is the Rosewood Hotel near Holborn tube station. That’s their 100Mbps wifi speed above (I took the screenshot last year and it’s never missed a beat since). The only downside to the Rosewood is the lack of power sockets but it’s worth taking the time to find one – head to Scarfe’s Bar for those. There’s really nowhere else that’s worth mentioning in central London.
I don’t venture south very much so if I do it’s usually to a company’s office. If I needed somewhere to hang out for a while it would be another CitizenM, the Bankside one.
West for me means Mayfair or beyond so for that there’s the Churchill Hyatt (nothing special but quiet but near the incredible Al Arez Lebanese for dinner). I can also use the Imperial College Alumni Centre – it’s a bit ‘9-5’ but decent wifi and free coffee, Coke and biscuits. If Victoria counts as west then the Notes there is good – power sockets (the ones with the USB plugs too), great espresso and jugs of flavoured water. (Coffee Geek and Friends has good wifi but also hard seats, a bit noisy and the loo isn’t kept very clean).
The following are places that are just hopeless – poor wifi, bad service, tasteless food, grumpy staff, too many people and inappropriate temperature are among the reasons to avoid:
- The British Library – pretty rubbish in 2009 never mind now – there was always a rush to the door back then. I hope there’s not now. It’s for people who as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau where they should go when setting up a business.
- The Hoxton (any of them, in my opinion) – full of people pretending to work and hoping someone cool is looking at their screen and will comment. The private rooms for dinners and events in The Apartment are still excellent however
- Pret, Starbucks, Caffe Nero etc. Some of the newly refurbished ones are OK but only if you need to be there for 1 hour or less.
- Ozone Coffee – everything The Hoxton has but the staff are grumpy too – I feel like I’m an inconvenience to them by being there.
- Shoreditch Grind – why they have to play rap songs with swearing at 7:30am I have no idea.
- The Wolseley – this is the one place I’d accept phones, laptops and wifi being banned – it’s the best place to people-watch in London.
- Monocle Cafe – odd food and no wifi.