You’ve finally kicked the office habit and have started working freelance - congrats. But between getting distracted by your Xbox, the construction site outside your building, or just the fact that you haven’t felt direct sunlight in three days, you’ll understand that there’s a reason why the majority of freelancers head to coffee shops to get some work done.
That said, you can’t just work at any coffee shop. Sure, they should all have decent coffee, but you also need reliable internet, comfortable seating, and enough power outlets so you don’t end up having to go home after a couple of hours. Here are the best coffee shops in London to actually get some work done.
If you’re in central and have a couple of hours between meetings, go to Timberyard. This coffee shop pretty much exists to serve the laptop crowd, and it’s always full of people concentrating really, really hard on whatever’s on their screen. There are plenty of tables and sofas, and meeting rooms if you need to hire one. You’ll be able to get anything from fake cronuts to tasty salads if you’re hungry, and there are power points aplenty too. Bear in mind that it’s popular, so get there early to secure a seat.
Like Shoreditch, Farringdon isn’t exactly short of coffee shops. But Prufrock has been one of the best in London for a long time, both for the quality of their coffee and the environment you’ll drink it in. It’s laid back enough for you to relax and go deep and finish that Powerpoint, and the service is also great.
Just because your Instagram bio says ‘digital nomad’ now doesn’t mean that you can’t get cabin fever from working in dingy cafes. Hit the Riding House Cafe in central which is a lovely and incredibly convenient place to post up for a few hours. The sofas and long communal table are a good shout, and it’s also bright inside, which helps if you’re prone to a bit of seasonal affective. There’s a varied all-day menu of posh brasserie dishes, but it’s also good for eggs in the morning too. Bear in mind that it gets busy at peak times.
There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank screen and needing to be creative under pressure. You aren’t going to get heaps of inspiration from your local cafe, but we always find that posting up at The Hoxton Hotel helps. For a lobby, it’s busy but civilised, and you’ll always see interesting people passing through during the day. There are desks, sofas, and proper tables if you’re with others, and there’s a full restaurant adjacent if you’re having a working lunch. The central location five minutes from Holborn tube is also incredibly convenient.
If you’re local, you’ll know that Coffeeworks gets slammed at the weekend. But during the week, it’s much quieter. The deal here is excellent coffee, reliable wifi, and a distraction-free environment for getting shit done. The setup’s simple - counter at the front, lounge at the back, and a garden for when you’re taking your twentieth break of the day.
A lot of theatre cafes tend to be boring, slightly depressing afterthoughts that only see any action during intermissions, but Park Theatre is actually great. It’s usually busy with freelancers and local theatre types chatting, but it’s never so busy that you won’t be able to grab a seat. The internet’s fast and the setup feels spacious, and you’ll definitely want in on some of their Portuguese custard tarts when they’re available.
From the arty vibe around Tate Modern, you might think there would be plenty of places to sit and do some work. In reality it’s slim pickings, but The Coffeeworks Project around the corner is perfectly suited to this purpose. There’s plenty of table and counter space to sit with a laptop, and as well as fast internet and lots of powerpoints, the coffee here is A+. Staff are friendly, and though the industrial vibe might not be the cosiest, it’ll definitely stop you from getting too comfy and drifting off.
If we’re talking incentives to get work done, a cold craft beer must be up there. Bean & Hop in Earlsfield is a cafe by day that does excellent sausage rolls and good coffee, but has an extensive craft beer list that you can get through at night. The internet’s reliably fast and there are plenty of power outlets, and the cafe has the sort of laid back indie vibe that’s always welcome in this part of town.
Coffee shops are to Hackney what teenagers are to Camden: there are loads of them there. But the best place to work in Hackney isn’t a coffee shop. Instead, it’s Martello Hall, the excellent pizzeria-slash-bar on Mare Street. During the day, there’s a comfortable first-floor lounge where you can get bottomless coffee and fast wifi for a tenner, and the ground area is ideal for a casual meeting or lunch. The pizzas and cocktails are fantastic for when you’re ready to say fuck it and call it a day.
If you’ve spent any amount of time working from coffee shops in Shoreditch, you’ll know that the Ace Hotel is the default for most people. Problem is, it’s hard to work in a hotel lobby when guests start knocking back drinks in the middle of the afternoon, especially at a place as sceney as the Ace. Go to Forge & Co across the road, which is perfectly set up for working: there are tables for work and meetings, sofas for informal chats, fast wifi, and a full menu if you’re planning to spend the whole day there.
The area around the Old Street roundabout is rammed with coffee shops, ranging from your Cafe Neros to the sort of places that take 20 minutes to make your drink. Problem is, most of them are noisy and horrible for actually getting any work done. Walk a few minutes up City Road to Coffee Junction which, owing to being slightly out of the way, is quiet and spacious, and perfect for settling in and going deep on that children’s novel/spreadsheet you’ve been working on. The mugs of coffee are big if you’re on a freelancer budget, and there’s also a nice outdoor area for meetings when the weather’s nice.
Perfect if you’re close to Vicky Park, the Peanut Vendor is a cross between an ‘artisanal’ coffee shop and a trendy vintage furniture store. While we’re not loaded enough to casually pick up a coffee table, we can definitely settle for their coffee and excellent cheese toasties. Setup-wise, there are plenty of tables and there’s lots of counter space if you’re working solo, and it’s quiet enough during the day for you to spread out. As a bonus, it’s dog-friendly too.
Although the term ‘getting some work done’ has a very different meaning in Chelsea, Beaufort House is still an excellent place to settle in with your laptop. This being SW3, it’s more of a sloaney bar than an indie coffee shop, but it’s relatively quiet during the day, it’s very comfy, and the drinks are good. If you’re really serious about this freelance lark, they also offer a membership option for around £30 a month to use a dedicated members’ area that’s open until 3am.
It’s hard to get work done in Notting Hill when you’re fighting for precious cafe real estate with the local trustafarians and a couple of hot mums who are on their fourth glass of wine. Though most cafes along Portobello aren’t ideal for productivity, Bluebelles is an exception. Here, it’s always easy to find somewhere to work, and unlike hanging around in Daylesford, staff are super accommodating to freelancers. As well as nice coffee, the cakes here are especially good.