i’m in the process of packing up my home ready for our eviction, and while my office area is definitely going to be the last space i dismantle, working surrounded by immense piles of clutter – and the clank, clank, clank of workmen on the scaffolding outside – is proving to be highly demotivating!
thankfully, the beauty of blogging – or any contemporary business built to run online – is that you really can work from anywhere these days! in the past few months i’ve logged on from a sun-lounger by the pool in rhodes, a packed london tube carriage, a train hurtling up to manchester and back, several hotel lobbies and innumerable coffee shop counters.
of course, we all have our favourite remote-working spots to set up our laptops for the day and get down to business, so given the extensive research i’ve done over the past few weeks i thought i’d round up a list of my top places to work in my city, either for free or the cost of an espresso or two (or three!):
unlike many independent coffee shops that frown upon nursing a single coffee while hogging a table to work, timberyard have wholeheartedly embraced the creative freelancer revolution and actively encourage their customers to take their time and use the space to work, network and hold meetings. their coffee is also top-notch, which is no surprise when you discover their head of coffee is yuko inoue was runner-up in the coffee masters london this year. sadly their old street branch is now closed, but their outposts in soho and seven dials offer comfortable seating and free wifi throughout – which mercifully doesn’t require a fiddly sign-in form in order to connect! the food is also fabulous so there’s no need to decamp over lunchtime (although it does get very busy) – i heartily recommend the courgette, cardamom and coconut soup and the vibrant array of colourful salads, although don’t forget to leave room for a rinkoff’s crodough if you’re having a particularly good/bad day (*delete as appropriate, whatever day it is you’ll want one!)
4 noel street, w1 / 7 upper st martin’s lane, wc2
City: barbican kitchen
you either love or hate the barbican and i definitely fall in the former camp – i simply adore the striking brutalist architecture and could send hours wondering the concrete ziggurat, discovering new corners and unexpected delights. whenever i’m in the area and need to catch up on work i make a beeline for the spacious barbican kitchen (run by benugo) on the ground floor, overlooking the open lakeside terrace. sure, it is always busy over lunchtimes and just before/after a theatre performance but usually it is not hard to find a space to slot in along the long table banks or at one of the booths towards the back. i’m often distracted people-watching the crowds outdoors or simply caught gazing at the stunning architectural geometry, but i find it a wonderful space in which to draw inspiration. and when i need to actually concentrate i simply put on noise-cancelling headphones and find a spot away from the window where i can usually work uninterrupted with no trouble at all.
barbican kitchen, silk street, london ec2
east: forge & co
forge & co is my go-to whenever i’m in shoreditch and need to get a good few hours of work in. set in a 1950’s modernist building, forge & co is a unique new social workspace that offers individual desks, hotdesking, office space and studios for members, while also providing a canteen on the ground floor that is open to the public for drop-ins. there is a cosy lounge area by the bar that is perfect for meetings and socialising and if you’re there to work you can request a seat at a ‘proper’ table – and ask for access to a wall socket for charging if required. the service hasn’t been necessarily been the best when i’ve been there but the coffee is good and if you’re in full-on work mode they are happy to leave you alone to get on with things, without pestering you for refills continuously as you often get in other table-service venues. the wifi is free and reliable, and if you’re there over lunchtime i recommend the cornish crab & mango salad – delish!
154-158 shoreditch high st, e1
East: citizenM tower of london
i’ve long used their bankside hotel as a working base when i’m south of the river but having visited the new citizenM tower of london hotel a few weeks ago, i think this will become a regular haunt of mine going forward. the lobby area in the new outpost, which opened yesterday, is vastly bigger than its bankside sibling and provides numerous vitra sofas for social meetings or relaxation, and banks of tables for more serious working. wifi is free throughout and designed to connect your device automatically, as it would in your own home. the walls are lined with trademark floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stocked with coffee-table books, sculptures and the kind of kitsch british souvenirs that should look tacky, but end up just looking charmingly eccentric. you’ll be able to grab coffee from either the coffeeM bar at the entranceway (designed to cater for the 50,000 commuters who use next-door tower hill station daily!) or from the central canteenM bar. there are also large television screens dotted around so you can keep up-to-date with the latest headlines (pretty essential these days..) or catch all the sports events taking place this summer while you work. finally, if you’re able to sneak up to societyM on the top two floors to take in the incredible view over the tower of london, then do – it’s simply breathtaking!
40 trinity square, ec3
South: bfi reuben library
having studied film & television production at university, the british film institute holds a special place in my heart. the reuben library is a place i visit when i’m in full-on work-mode and need the peace and quiet to think clearly and not be distracted by coffee, incessant chatter or phone calls. you need to fill in a registration card when you visit and follow some simple house rules, such as no food and drink (except water) and switching your phone to silent, but it is a great space to really knuckle down and crack on without interruptions. you also have access to their huge collection of materials on film and television so inspiration is never far away if you find yourself in need of a creative spark.
bfi southbank, belvedere rd, south bank, se1 (closed on mondays)
West: v&a national art library
the national art library at the v&a is another space to go when you’re in need of peace and quiet in order to think clearly. the stunning grade ii listed interior located on the third floor of the museum is certainly awe-inspiring when you first step inside, and the public reference library provides the ultimate research catalogue for the fine and decorative arts. you will need to register with photo i.d. on your first visit to the library and again comply with a free simple house rules, such as locking away bags (you take your laptop or study materials in in a clear plastic bag) and turning phones to silent. when it comes to lunchtime the garden café downstairs offers a great selection and if the weather is nice i often decamp to the john madejski garden so i can soak up a few rays while catching up on emails and posts in more relaxed surroundings.
victoria & albert museum, cromwell road, knightsbridge, sw7 (closed on mondays)
manchester: foundation coffee house
given the amount of time i spend up in manchester these days, i naturally have a whole host of remote working spots (which definitely warrant their own post, which i’ll get around to some time), but my favourite has to be foundation coffee house. located on the edge of the northern quarter, the stark design-led interior makes it a great café to blog about design from! the wifi is fast and reliable, the booths roomy and equipped with power sockets, and the coffee meticulously prepared and ethically sourced. service may be a tad slow, but the passion and precision that goes into serving you the best cup of coffee in the city means its totally worth it! if you’re setting up to blog in the early morning i heartily recommend a stack of the protein pancakes with berries and honey – they’ll keep you going right through ‘til lunch, no worries.
sevendale house, lever st, manchester m1
so guys, do you have any top remote-working spots to recommend me – either in london, manchester or beyond? i’d love to know the places you enjoy working from!
this post is in collaboration with dell but all thoughts are, as always, my own.