As every freelancer knows, eating toast in your pyjamas with your favourite music blaring is fun at first but hardly leads to a productive day’s work. Sometimes you need to make a break from the house and pitch up in a café with plentiful plug sockets to stand a chance of getting anything done. Here are five of the best places to work in central London where you can enjoy office-free independence at the same time as mastering your to-do list.
Second Home is growing – and fast. Large, open, light spaces allowing you to work in an extremely civilised environment. It is, if you like, a library for the Silicon Valley era. Co-founder Sam Aldenton told the press that ‘we removed the things you typically see in an office – there are no water-coolers, no-kitchenettes, no microwaves.’ Certainly not. In Second Home, you’ll find cafes and restaurants, lectures, talks and exercise classes. Second Home offers various different membership schemes, so you can pick one that suits you (or your boss). It also has an onsite nursery for those with children so that you can work with your little ones close at hand. They have sites in London, Lisbon and Los Angeles.
Waterstones Piccadilly is huge (there are about seven floors), imposing, and holds various commercial events, to keep the lolly coming in. Despite all this, it’s a marvellous place to work – either in the cafe on the basement or the bar on the top floor. Its size means it is very easy to find your own corner with space and power for your laptop. If you like to be within reach of a glass of wine as soon as the laptop is closed then Waterstones Piccadilly is for you.
Heaven on earth for bibliophiles, but particularly for those who rather like to avoid chitchat, get their head down and focus on the next big deadline. It smells of leather, and operates a silent policy: an oasis of peace in amongst the loud and pointless charade of existence. Set in St James’s Square, central London, the Library has been supported by the great and the good of the literary world since its establishment in 1841. T.S. Eliot, once a president of the Library, said that ‘the disappearance of the London Library would be a disaster to civilisation’ and he wasn’t wrong. There’s almost nowhere more pleasant on the planet. Membership costs £510 per annum.
(The Library has recently launched an Emerging Writers Programme which offers all attendees one year’s free membership.)
Ark coworking was set up by a group of entrepeneurs who renovated an old victorian building with the help of their local church in Kings Cross. They have turned it into a shared work space for freelancers and entrepeneurs with the emphasis being on providing community for those setting up businesses, social enterprises or working independently. It features group lunches and a shared spotify playlist which everyone in the space can contribute to. Once you are a member, it costs £20 to turn up and pay on the day but this space is hugely popular and sells out fast so get there early. Spaces can be reserved for three days for £150 or on a monthly basis for £300.
Fire off your emails in the luxury surrounds of Soho House’s workspace initiative: Soho Works. Shoreditch’s branch features phone booths for private calls, showers for those who like to run or cycle to the office, plus an onsite cafe and bar. It offers a round-the-clock service as well so perfect for the night owls amongst you. Membership costs £400 per month.