For the ones who are lucky enough to work remotely or are location independent, I’ve curated 5 of my favourite places to work in London.
We all concentrate in varying circumstances, right? Some like a little background noise (a bit of Einaudi, if you will), whilst others prefer pin drop silence. So what exactly am I looking for when I want to find somewhere to work? Aside from strong wifi (this is a given), I’ve consolidated my list based on a number of factors, for example; ambiance, quality of coffee and the amount of time it is socially acceptable to stay. Probably also worth adding that in my (now) 8 year career, I’ve spent almost half of that time working from home or working remotely from various locations, so hopefully my suggestions are somewhat credible.
So, combining the ability to work remotely, with an apartment in the middle of a Vauxhall construction site (meaning working from home was no longer an option!), here’s what I came up with.
The first time I went to Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, I was invited to work here alongside a friend. A “working date”, as we’d call it. Exactly the kind of company I love! Anyway, there were a few things I loved about this place.
The atmosphere is fantastic. Relatively loud music, but not so loud that you couldn’t simply pop some headphones on and block it. Personally, I love that. Depending on the task, I enjoy some music in the background. Plus, the table service makes it super easy to have drinks brought over to you once you find a great spot. The cherry on top? The coffee is pretty decent, too.
Everyone in there seems to have work to do, so actually, this was quite a motivating place to be. Plug sockets absolutely everywhere, with lots of extension cables around for those who aren’t sat near a wall. For those who always leave their portable chargers at home (i.e. me), this is an important detail!
Possible downside? It is incredibly busy in there, so people tend to get there early to secure a good space to work. Noise levels fluctuate but it’s definitely on the louder end of the spectrum, which may not be your thing. It seemed like a miracle that my friend and I got a decent enough spot on a Friday evening at 7pm, where surprisingly, there are still tonnes of people working silently. However, aside from being a quirky hotel, Ace Hotel’s raison d’être extends beyond the mere facilities on offer. You’ll find yourself sat among a community of entrepreneurs, fellow nomads and interesting travellers (it is a hotel, after all). Who knows where a conversation could go, or the connections you might be able to build!
London School of Economics (LSE) Library
Admittedly, this one requires a little planning, but it’s totally worth it once you get your membership. The many times I frequented this place in 2019, tucked away in Holborn, I always found it super easy to concentrate and actually get stuff done. At the time, I was a masters student with Warwick University, so was able to access a number of other university libraries to study — including LSE. However, membership is open to the public too.
Now LSE is like any standard university library — books, tables and general silence (with other, more explicitly stated ‘silent’ zones!). What I loved the most about my time there was the routine I had. I’d go to the Sainsbury’s outside Holborn station, stock up on snacks, walk over to the library and basically stay there all day and night until my work was done. I often secured a booth so I could work privately, be blocked from any and all distractions, and avoid accidentally tripping over one of the many students fast asleep on the floor. (This happened once, quite dramatically, only for him to momentarily wake up and then roll over to go back to sleep #truestory).
There is something I love about a university campus, especially when it’s a credible institution. Now, I went to both a no-name poly and a red brick for my degrees, so I personally feel the differences are quite obvious. My undergrad university library was nothing like this. It ended up being a place where friends hung out and discussed the adventures of the previous night. LSE is very very different to that, much like Warwick, only super easy to get to and close to all of the amenities you’d need, and perfect if you’re faced with a task where you need absolute silence to work.
Starbucks at Vauxhall Station, SW8 1SP
The audacity of me to suggest a chain. How very un-hipster of me. But hear me out…
The Starbucks at Vauxhall station is one of the busiest I’ve seen, for all of the obvious reasons. Thousands of people are in and out of that shop day in and out, including me. In fact, I worked out my expenses over the last three months and to my horror (but unsurprisingly), I’d spent close to £1000 on my every day coffee and occasional lunch there. (I’m sure there’s a new year’s resolution in there somewhere, but mama didn’t raise no quitter!).
Regardless of just how busy it is, the trick is to go to the downstairs seating area, which is almost always relatively quiet and empty. The fact that there is even a downstairs area only became known to me halfway through the year, which is a testament to how ‘hidden’ it is. Given how many times I stood in line at the place, I never noticed it. This is why it’s a perfect place to grab a coffee to your liking (I’m a huge advocate for their blonde roast!), and settle into a corner downstairs where you can work undisturbed for hours on end.
CitizenM Hotel, Shoreditch
In an obscure corner in Shoreditch, around the corner from Shoreditch High Street Station, you’ll find this awesome hotel. I’m a big fan of CitizenM, not only because they all offer a funky space that appeals to my inner big kid (see below), but also because it’s an affordable chain that has a presence in some great locations in London and worldwide. Try their Tower Hill hotel bar for the views, or the New York Bowery hotel for access to the Museum of Street Art (MOSA) which is enclosed in the hotel staircase!
Everything about this place appeals to the millennial generation who go from city to city, armed with their laptops, modest wallets and huge ambitions.
The only potential downside is that you have to pay to work there if you aren’t staying at the hotel. I say it’s potential because, unofficially, I’ve never actually been asked to pay for being there. I’ve usually purchased a coffee, had a good conversation with the barista and carried on working in peace. That said, £15 a day for strong wifi and a decent place to meet clients or those you are working with isn’t a bad trade off. There are some huge tables here too, making it much easier to collaborate with a co-worker. Since the area also technically forms part of the lobby, it’s rarely super noisy there, so rest assured you’ll be able to join that important conference call just fine from here.
For something a little bit different, (and let me tell you, this place definitely delivers on that!) Host Café was one of my favourite spots to work last year.
The venue is actually a church, but to one side is a café that offers some great food/beverage options. It’s certainly a nice change of scene, and due to the nature of the place, it’s always pretty quiet in there. Remote workers are welcomed in, and it never feels as though anyone is pressuring you to leave.
The coffee is ok (not the best I’ve ever had, but not notably bad either!), but the atmosphere of the venue and the location itself makes it worth staying (it’s based right across the road from Mansion House Station). For that reason, it’s actually a great spot to spend in the early hours of the morning, especially if you’re more productive at this time, as it opens at 7.30am. The only downside? It’s not open on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and it closes after 4.30pm — which is not the most ideal if you prefer working later in the day!
My personal view of Host Café was that it is an inspiring place to work if you have creative work to do — writing your novel or drawing. In my opinion, I couldn’t always draw the inspiration I needed to be able to work on a techie project (the juxtaposition of reviewing website functionality while sat in a beautiful piece of history seemed odd!), so it was always a relatively short (but worthwhile) stay.