I was extraordinarily lucky to live in London with very little in the way of outgoings when I moved in with my boyfriend, who owns a flat and had lodgers. As we were both preparing to digital nomad it up, writing our book, we spent a lot of time traipsing around East London looking for good cafes to work in, and here's what we found:
Without doubt, Crisis is our A Number 1 favourite place in London to work. The positives are almost endless:
- The cafe is run by a homeless charity and supports its works
- They make amazing, fresh, healthy, environmentally and socially responsible seasonal food that changes on a daily basis
- It is CHEAP, SO SO CHEAP
- There are heaps of tables, huge windows and high ceilings
- It's usually quiet in the morning until a lunch rush
- Staff are really friendly (difficult to find in London)
There are only two minor negatives, which are
- It's only open 8am until 3pm, Monday to Friday (although that's just a good motivation to get up early)
- Wi-Fi comes on a two hour basis (but we ended up going so often that they would usually just give us a daily code; also, you don't have to buy another tea to get a new code)
Sigh. When we get back to London, we're so looking forward to returning to Crisis.
For some reason I can never remember the name of this place. That's not to say it's forgettable, because it's excellent. When Crisis closed for the day, we'd often walk here (about 20 minutes, briskly). Timberyard's pluses
- Pleasing array of tea flavours, served with a countdown timer set for that specific tea, so it doesn't "over-brew"
- Lots of seating at street level and in the quiet but buzzy basement area - well lit, good tables, good seats
- Large conference-style table that's kind of separate which is good if you want to conduct a meeting
- Really nice decor, nice and brightly lit - it feels really cosy if it's dreary outside (ie, London)
- It's pretty expensive, especially if you're peckish. I'm not sure anyone would mind if you snuck a sneaky sandwich while sitting downstairs, though.
Look Mum, No Hands
This is officially a "cycling cafe", which you'll be able to tell from the rangy 40something men in their lycras as you walk in. LMNH is good if you want to push on after Timberyard shuts at 8pm, as it's only a few doors down. Overall, I would tell you to go for it as a last resort or as a late-ish night.
- If you want to work a bit later in the day, it's open until 10pm
- Lots of bench-style seating in front of the big windows - it's set up for freelancers
- High ceilings
- Very dimly lit - it's a kind of dull fluorescent
- Quite drafty and chilly as they often seem to have the doors open
- REALLY expensive
- I seem to remember the internet being quite temperamental at times
Okay, this is an interesting one - I haven't used Google's actual co-working space, which I could not afford, but it's free to get a card and use the cafe underneath it. Jon and I went there once and... it wasn't great. But we'll start with the upsides
- Really fast internet, obvz, it's Google
- Huge space, brightly lit, loads of seating and loads of plug sockets
- A cool app testing space where there were every mobile device known to human kind - so great if you're an app developer
- Drinks were, if I recall, not terribly expensive but I doubt anyone would notice if you didn't even buy a token coffee, because....
- It was absolutely rammed. There were heaps of seats, but you could barely find one, especially as there seemed to be a culture of people just leaving their bag on a table to claim it. DICK MOVE. But that wasn't that surprising, cos
- IT WAS FULL OF DICKS. A lot of people talking very loudly so people could hear about how great their startup is and how much money they're making and how in demand their stupid protein powder is. It was a massive turn-off.
YumChaa is a small chain of independent teahouses. They boast an incredible variety of teas, which come at you in individual teapots. I've worked in both the Soho and Camden shops (NB - not the one in Camden Lock) and enjoyed them very much. The Soho one gets incredibly busy, especially on weekends, but the downstairs area is pretty quiet on weekday afternoons. The Camden one is much bigger and has a lovely high atrium-style ceiling, so lots of natural light. Nice.
Wilton's Music Hall
This is an outlier but I have a soft spot in my heart for it because it's in Shadwell, where Jon and I used to live. It's got an incredible history, gorgeous menu, quiet atmosphere in the daytime and an amazing look. I wouldn't recommend a long stint working here, as the furniture's a bit crookedy, but if you want to meet someone and perhaps refer to the internet, take them here - I'll pretty much guarantee that they wont have been there, and it's located just one stop from Bank on the DLR.