Update: as new cafes open up, old ones close down, and existing ones change their rules, we have accordingly updated this post to reflect the state of working cafes in London in 2021 since its original publication in 2018. Of course, we’d always recommend checking the café site directly (linked in the café title) for the most up to date information and opening hours, so you don’t end up lugging your kit all around London!
Being a freelancer affords a lot of flexibility. Unlike the average desk worker, you aren’t necessarily tied to one location. Instead, you can choose to work from just about any suitable spot you please.
Getting out of the house and finding cafes to work at provides a change of scenery (known to boost creativity), offers the opportunity to meet and co-work with other freelancers and has the added perk of high-quality coffee and snacks being brought straight to your table, freeing up more time to focus (as long as it’s a cafe with Wi-Fi, of course).
Many freelancers do prefer to stay and work from home, using a home office, but on the days that you’d appreciate a change of scenery or if you’re visiting the UK’s capital city, here’s a selection of the best cafes to work at in London that should be at the top of your list.
This is not a sponsored article and neither Dinghy nor our staff has received any kind of promotional gifts or payments for the websites or services mentioned in this article.
As more people turn to freelancing and businesses have become more relaxed around remote working, coffee shops and cafes are in-turn embracing an evolving type of customer who chooses to use them as working spots. There are a few essential qualities that a place needs to be fully laptop-friendly, and those most preferred by remote workers are:
- Coffee shops with fast WiFi;
- Cafes with power sockets for laptops;
- Places with large enough tables for laptops;
- Comfortable seating for work;
- Quiet places to study or work;
- Laptop-friendly cafes.
That last point is crucial and often overlooked, it’s super important that you’re working from a place that’s laptop friendly. There are some establishments where working with a laptop simply isn’t appropriate. These tend to be busy establishments serving food, with a fast turnaround time for each table – for example, small cafes near tourist hotspots. They are a business after all, and when they might be able to serve food to sixteen people (four lots of four) over two hours on a single table – it simply isn’t sustainable for them to lose that custom to a single freelancer buying a coffee or two in that time.
With all the above key points in mind, and with Dinghy being a remote company, thus having each personally spent a considerable amount of time working from public spaces – we have compiled a list of the best places for a freelancer to work in London in 2021. Looking for laptop cafes in London? Coffee shops near Euston Station? Or the best cafes in Soho? Whatever you’re trying to find, we’ve got you covered.
What are you looking for?
This list includes a broad selection of cafes, libraries and coffee shops across London so that you can find an atmosphere that best fits your work style.
Rather than just picking and sticking with a couple, it’s worth giving all of these spaces a try and then see which ones suit your needs best. Some days, you might want a space geared primarily for working while other times you might want something more laid-back where you can kick back to enjoy a coffee, pastry and a good book.
The best cafes in Central London to work from as a Freelancer
96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB
Opening hours vary
The British Library is a beautiful and quiet place to work from if you are looking for an area where you can sit down, get started on your projects, and enjoy free WiFi in an inherently peaceful environment. There are a number of cafes to choose from, including Origin Coffee. Note that the opening hours vary for each café at the British Library. For our money, the British Library is one of the best to study at in London.
If you didn’t fancy a cafe then The British Library’s Reading Rooms are a convenient and quiet working location, and you’ll also get access to the library’s entire collection of works – whether you want to research something, find inspiration, or just take a short break from your projects. It’s a very calm place to be, and they provide you with everything you need to focus on.
In the Reading Rooms, you can claim a private desk nook where you can set up your laptop, plug in, and connect to the library’s free WiFi. Hundreds of people come in every day to do the same thing, but there are usually a few open desks at any given time so you won’t have a problem finding a seat.
Access to the Reading Rooms is entirely free, but you’ll need to sign up for a Reader Pass before you go in. You can sign up on the Upper Ground Floor at St Pancras, London. Pre-registration can be completed online to speed up the process.
Do I need insurance when working from a coffee shop?
Accidents happen, but when they do, insurance is there to help you set things right. At Dinghy we offer flexible Public Liability insurance to help pay for any damage you accidentally cause to people or their stuff.
Dinghy also offers Professional Indemnity insurance, to protect you when mistakes happen for work that you have completed when working not just in a café, but anywhere in the world.
Opening hours vary
Foyles is a legendary independent bookstore chain, now with four locations across London. While they don’t openly advertise to freelancers who are seeking a place to work, they do have room for you to come in and sit down for a while. It is known as a popular working spot for writers and authors. Their vast selection of books is ideal for freelancers looking to conduct research or to break up their workday by purchasing a new book and doing a spot of reading.
The staff are always friendly and knowledgeable, and the stores are large, with enough space for yoga classes and other events. They have a boardroom and event space for hire in case you are considering holding a big collaboration or meet-up with clients or other freelancers in your area.
There is usually an empty seat for you to grab at any of the Foyles locations. Make sure to check the hours before you head out as each site has slightly different opening times. You can call ahead or check their website for a fast answer to any questions you have about their operating hours or holiday schedule.
If you are planning on going for reading or research purposes, you should also be sure to check their online catalogue. Each store has slightly different offerings and if needed, they can order in any book you request.
Various opening times
Association Coffee House has two locations in London, make sure to check the opening times before visiting, as these have changed a few times throughout the pandemic.
A smaller spot, you may have to fight for a table but it’s worth the wait. Customer reviews rave about the coffee, and as you would hope, they offer a variety of milk alternatives, including oat milk.
The best spots for freelancers in North London
183 Holloway Rd, Lower Holloway, London N7 8LX
Sunday-Monday: Closed, Tue-Fri: 8am-4pm, Sat: 9am-4pm
About a 5 minute walk from Holloway Road Station, EZ & Moss is a hub for students of London Metropolitan University and freelancers alike to come study, work, and hang out. It’s favoured by freelancers as a place with a decent amount of power outlets and free wifi.
They serve Allpress coffee and vegetarian and vegan food, which is a must-try regardless of whether you’re veggie or not.
This cafe is just down the road from some lovely green open spaces. When you have the time, and the sun isn’t too bright, it’s worth walking out that way and working from one of the parks.
Hampstead Lane, London, NW3 7JR
Open 9am-6pm every day
Kenwood House is one of London’s hidden gems. With an array of art to enjoy, including works from Rembrandt and Vermeer, a visit to Kenwood House could be a great way to combine freelancing with a day out.
Kenwood House is free to visit, so you could enjoy an inspiring trip round the galleries before settling down in the café to complete some work. In the summer months, you can sit outside in the garden whilst you work and sip on a coffee.
The café also offers a range of food choices, and if you are there on a Sunday you could even tuck in to a Sunday roast!
Freelancer friendly cafes in East London
40 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4DJOpening hours 24/7
citizenM is a very well thought-through and stylish chain of hotels located in Bankside, Tower Hill and Shoreditch. Being a hotel, you’ll pay a bit more for food and coffee than a cafe, but it’s an excellent working environment and the canteen is open 24/7. The WiFi is good and there’s a considerable number of comfortable tables to work from including a few private booths dotted around. Every table has a decent amount of power outlets, so you’re almost guaranteed to be able to plug in.
However, as the hotel requests; please do respect that guests have priority use of these workspaces, though it’s infrequent for the entire place to be full of workers.
Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
Varied opening times, closed on Sundays
The Barbican Centre Library is an excellent choice of place to do some freelance work for the day. It’s become a particularly popular hub for creatives since it has tens of thousands of CDs and collections of sheet music you can take out and is the centre of performing arts.
As a freelancer, you are welcome to sit down to enjoy the quiet and calm atmosphere. As you would expect, there is free WiFi available. There are multiple places to sit and some desks to make use of. People tend to keep to themselves here, which is useful if you’re looking to focus for a while without any distractions.
Keep in mind that the Barbican, like many major libraries now, may ask to search any large bags you bring into the building, so it’s best to pack light for your day of work. A simple laptop case with just the essentials will help you get through security with ease so you can sit down and begin working.
11 Leonard St, London EC2A 4AQ
Mon-Fri: 7:30am-5pm, Sat-Sun: 8:30am-5pm
Being located right by the Old Street Roundabout, this New-Zealand run establishment has regularly been a favourite eating and working spot for those working on tech start-ups. They are very laptop-friendly; however, a clear separation is made between those intending to eat as a group, and individuals looking to work. This means on busier days, you may need to queue for a short while to get a space.
They roast their own coffee on the premises, which you can quite often witness them doing in the downstairs area. Naturally, their coffee is astounding and is available in all different forms from espresso to mad-scientist-looking siphon coffee, or even to purchase as beans. The food is pricey but outstanding.
Freelancer café spots in West London
203 Upper Richmond Rd, London SW15 6SG
Mon-Fri: 7:30am-4pm, Sat-Sun: 8:30am-4pm
About an 8-minute walk from East Putney Station is Artisan Coffee. Another one on our list to serve coffee from the London-based roaster Allpress Espresso. They have both breakfast and lunch menus to suit you for the time of day you’re looking to work, and their food is good.
The company is quite established in West London with footholds in Stamford Brook, East Sheen and even the Artisan Coffee School in Ealing.
640 Fulham Rd, Fulham, SW6 5RT
Mon-Fri: 7am-5:30 pm, Sat: 7:30am-6pm, Sun: 8am-5:30pm
Local Hero is a great little independently owned coffee shop near Parsons Green serving coffee from Climpson & Sons and a trendy brunch (both healthy and less healthy variants). There’s also a second location in Kingston upon Thames.
Best cafes for freelancers in South London
18 Clapham Common Southside, Clapham, SW4 7AB
Mon-Fri: 8am-5pm, Sat-Sun: 9am-4:30pm
It’s quite small and can get busy, but for summer days The Black Lab also has outside seating. Regular customers say that it’s the best coffee you can find in the area, and it does seem to live up to the reputation. The staff there are friendly and approachable, which always makes working somewhere so much more pleasant. They have a lovely assortment of sandwiches, croissants and cakes to get you through the day, including a delicious vegan and gluten-free cheesecake. Free WiFi and power outlets make this an excellent choice for South London.
424-426 Garratt Ln, Earlsfield, London SW18 4HN
Mon-Friday: 8am-4: pm, Sat-Sun: 8.30am-4pm
A charming little place on the corner in Earlsfield who, as the name implies, serve not only celebrated coffee but also, over 50 different craft beers if you fancy an after-work tipple. Due to its small size, this is not somewhere you would work from all day, but great to pop into to prepare for a client presentation or make some website edits. Look out for their great sourdough pizzas later in the evening.
Join the discussion!
Have any favourite spots of your own that you like to work from in London? Let us know in the comments below! We’ll add some of the best suggestions to this post.
Why should I have Public Liability insurance when working from a coffee shop?
You just opened your laptop, plugged in your headphones and then a client calls – so you spin around to get your phone out of your bag and send the latte flying – straight onto your neighbour’s laptop!
Accidents happen, but when they do, insurance is there to help you set things right. At Dinghy we offer flexible Public Liability insurance to help pay for any damage you accidentally cause to people or their stuff. Unlike other insurance, Dinghy lets you instantly turn the insurance off, saving you money, once you leave the coffee shop.
You can also insure your business equipment, so if your laptop is stolen whilst you are working in London, or in fact anywhere in the world, Dinghy will be here to help. (Bear in mind that like every other insurer, we can’t cover you if you leave your equipment unattended in a public place, like a coffee shop so remember to be extra vigilant). Get a quote with Dinghy today.