September 6, 2018

Best Cafes to Work From in Bristol

Written by Edward Woodcock

Dinghy Co-Founder

As former freelancers ourselves at Dinghy, we understand the importance of getting yourself out of the house from time-to-time, away from the luring procrastinations of doing laundry or finally cleaning that little spot in the kitchen. That’s why we’re running a series of blogs of the best cafes for freelancers to work in each major city around the UK. Having kicked-off with London, this is the second instalment in our series in which we focus on the vibrant city of Bristol.

Bristol is home to nearly 40,000 self-employed individuals and sole traders and, as one of the nation’s creative hubs, continues to attract more year-on-year. Freelancers of Bristol are lucky to have an extensive offering of laptop-friendly workspaces scattered around the city, and we have taken what we believe to be the best cafes in Bristol and listed them here. Most locations have WiFi and wall sockets and don’t require any kind of membership sign-up.

The Best Cafes in Bristol for Freelancers

The Canteen Bristol

80 Stokes Croft BS1 3QY
Mon-Fri: 10am – ~midnight. Sat & Sun: 11am – ~midnight

Having worked here myself a few times, The Canteen gets the first mention. By night The Canteen is a well known, bustling bar and live-music venue (well worth sticking around for after work), but by day it has a very chilled out vibe, great for working. Aptly named, the environment of this place does have a somewhat school-canteen feel to it, and hot food is available throughout the day, but WiFi is free, and you can find power sockets dotted around the room. No membership required, however, if a more formal working environment is your thing, there is a membership-based co-working space a couple of floors above.

Do I need Public Liability 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. Unlike other insurance, Dinghy let’s you instantly turn the insurance off, at no charge, once you leave the coffee shop.That’s the Dinghy difference!

Find out more

Spicer + Cole Bristol

Various Locations: 1 Queen Square Avenue, 9 Princess Victoria Street & 16 The Promenade.
Varied opening times from 7:30am – 5:30pm

This has also been a personal favourite of mine when working in Bristol in the past. Light and airy with a very modern feel; Spicer + Cole is an upscale alternative to the more community-centred atmosphere of cafes like Society Cafe, Vx, and Cafe Kino. There’s generally a decent number of power sockets around, and the WiFi connection is good.
Pro-tip when working from the Promenade branch, despite the pleasant setting, try and avoid the window seats at the front in the morning as the angle of the sun makes it harder to see your screen!

Spicer + Cole gear themselves around healthy, seasonal food and artisan coffees and teas, all of which are prepared in the kitchen from scratch by staff. Expect hipsters and hipster-level service from the team during your visit. Vegan cakes and sweets abound, so enjoy one while you’re working.

Cafe Kino Bristol

108 Stokes Croft BS1 3RU.
Mon-Sun: 10am-9:30pm

With a vision statement reading: “Creating inspiring, safe places to cultivate community, cooperation, creativity, and cake”, Cafe Kino is a not-for-profit worker’s cooperative and vegan cafe that offers community space in Bristol. Their food is famous in the area and deliciously vegan, sourced from local businesses including Brian Wogan, Four Seasons Organic, the Severn Project, The Proper Bread Bakery, and Tip Top Teas.

An excellent spot for freelancers but can get quite busy. There are wall sockets at six of their tables and free WiFi. As with all of our recommendations, do ensure to buy something when making use of their space, and with the quality of their food and coffee, you won’t regret it!

The Crafty Egg

113 Stokes Croft Road, BS1 3RW
8am – 7pm

The Crafty Egg is situated just over the road from Cafe Kino. In my experience working from there, I felt the Crafty Egg was a tad more suited to laptop working than Kino. There’s a reasonable amount of table space, and power sockets are also available. Beautiful big windows at the front, so the place is very light and airy, which creates a pleasant working environment. Food is excellent, and unsurprisingly egg-focussed; however, I really enjoyed the hummus dish during one of my visits. They’re also famous for their cheese fondue, a must-try if you’re there.

Boston Tea Party

Various locations around Bristol

Boston Tea Party first started as a single branch on Bristol Park St in 1995 and have since grown to over twenty branches scattered around the UK’s South West – 6 of which are in Bristol. I’ve always found BTP to be an excellent choice for working as the branches are all consistent so you know what to expect, power outlets are plentiful, their WiFi is usually decent, and many of them have a considerable amount of space (the Gloucester Road branch is great for this). Their popularity does mean however that they often get very busy and a little noisy during lunch periods.

Many of the branches have kids areas and are dog-friendly which some freelancers will find beneficial. With many locations, you’re likely to get a table at one of them, and there will be many people meeting and working in the space, as well as people just out for some tea, coffee, lunch, or a chat with friends or family.

VX Bristol

123 East Street, BS3 4ER.
Wed – Fri: 10am – 9pm; Mon-Tue: 10am – 5:30pm; Sat 10am – 6pm; Sun 11am – 5pm;

With a flagship branch in Kings Cross, London; VX describe their offering as ‘Vegan junk food’ (“A cruelty-free vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to be boring” is their tagline). You’ll also find the place to offer groceries as well as merchandise (by the Secret Society of Vegans). If you’re a freelancer with a four-legged friend, you’ll be pleased to know dogs are welcome at VX.

Vx has a small area for eating and being predominantly an eating establishment expect lots of activity in the background. Remember that life imitates art so you might find some happy inspiration.

The Arts House Café Bristol

108A Stokes Croft BS1 3RU
Tue-Sun: 10am – 4pm (brunch) & Mon-Sat: 5pm – 9:30pm (dinner)

Right next door to Cafe Kino – this cafe has a locally sourced menu as well as expansive tea, coffee, cake, and alcohol selections. It also hosts private events, artist showcases, a weekly cinema club, an underground comedy show, and an open mic night.

Freelancers should be ready for activity and carve out a place in a remote corner to plug in with headphones. There are no reservations but there are community tables, so you may need to prepare to share the space. As a freelancer where times can get lonely, however; this is often a silver lining! As its name implies, the Arts House is all about supporting artists, including writers of all sorts.

Society Café Bristol

Farrs Lane, Narrow Quay BS1 4BB
Mon-Sat: 7:30am – 6:30pm. Sun: 9am – 6pm

Society Cafe is a community spot where they welcome all types: bikers, buggy-pushers and dogs. They encourage everyone to visit and have creative spaces for kids. Society Cafe has pastries, cakes, and sandwiches as well as books, magazines, art exhibitions, and even artists in residence if you need a break from working and want to learn about creating art.

Wonderfully light, airy and modern; there’s a ton of space to sit (30 to 40 people) in the shop, but there have been reports of the WiFi being a little sketchy, so avoid it for video calls or other high-bandwidth activities.

Full Court Press Bristol

59 Broad Street, BS1 2EJ
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 5pm. Sat: 9am – 5pm. Sun: 10am – 4pm

Full Court is a quiet speciality coffee shop for the freelancing connoisseur with a downstairs that’s perfect to hide out in until you’re finished with your work. If you really like coffee, you can even become a barista for an afternoon or discuss coffee and current events on the last Sunday of each month at 5pm.

Mokoko

2 Gaol Ferry Steps, BS1 6WD
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 5:30pm. Sat: 8am – 6:30pm. Sun: 9am – 6:30pm

A great option if you’re based near Southville or central. Their coffee, cakes and food offerings are fantastic. For a fiver, you can take as much salad + quiche as you can fit onto the plate as part of a lunch deal. A pleasant, modern and bright spot near the waterfront with decent WiFi and some power sockets and a fair amount of seating, including benches along the large windows so you can watch the world go by.

Bonus listing

Small Street Espresso

23 Small St, BS1 1DW
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 4:30pm. Sat: 9:30am – 4:30pm

This place is tiny, and not somewhere you would sit for the whole day; however, my goodness, come here for the coffee alone! Some reviewers have even described this place to be the best small expert coffee shop (and coffee) in the whole South West. Grab yourself some banana bread as you work here too. I’ve worked from here a few times, it’s very cosy, but I can’t recommend it enough.

Extra Bonus: ‘Non-cafe’ option

Bedminster Library

4 St. Peters Court, Bedminster Parade BS3 4AQ
10am – 7pm (closed Tues & Sun)

Bedminster Library is smaller than Bristol Central Library (also an option) but much like has the same general rules as all the libraries in Bristol – You don’t have to get a library membership to use the WiFi, plug in, research, or use the library’s materials. If you intend to borrow materials, however, you will need a membership.

Being a freelancer and finding a good, quiet, cheap place to work on Bristol is a problem of choice – there’s no shortage of fantastic cafes & other spaces to work from. Hopefully, this list inspires you to step outside of your comfort zone (or at least the shed) and explore your freelancing work options in Bristol, mingle with the locals, and even discover some new foods, music, comedy, or speciality coffee along the way.

Have some of your own favourite spots to work around Bristol?

Please do let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to update this list with some of your resounding favourites! We very much believe in supporting small and local business here at Dinghy and love our community being a part of that mission!

Which city shall we feature next?

Let us know in the comments below so we can focus our efforts on those places next!

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 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 let’s you instantly turn the insurance off, at no charge, once you leave the coffee shop. That’s the Dinghy difference!

Find out more

About Edward Woodcock

Edward has been a technologist for over a decade, with the bulk of his experience in building software for the insurance and e-commerce markets. Having been a freelancer for over three years, Ed has directly gone through the biggest pains that most freelancers experience and knows first-hand what concerns them. This established in him a passion to solve these freelancer worries and improve their lives, so in 2017 he co-founded getdinghy.com, an insurance provider that specialises in freelancer insurance.

Read more blog posts by Edward Woodcock


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