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Working in London

Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Design | One Comment
Working in London

So, I was able to work from London for two weeks back in February… oh the joys of freelance! I had many ideas on what to blog about, but one topic seemed to be the most relevant for my fellow designers — what places did I end up working from? The area I stayed in was Soho — very similar to the Soho vibe most of us are familiar with in Manhattan. I knew that meant there would be plenty of places to work from once I arrived. In an attempt to line up a few local spots, I researched cool coffee shops and co-working spaces to set up shop, but was disappointed with the scarce reviews I came across. There wasn’t much information out there for a traveling freelancer. And the biggest piece of information I needed to know was often missing — do they have wi-fi? Strong wi-fi? I had a small list of places to check out, but nothing I was confident in.

So, the following is a list of the top 5 places I chose to work from and my review of how they measured up from a freelance perspective. Cheers!

 

TOP 5 PLACES TO WORK FROM IN LONDON

 

#5 Riding House Café

Riding House Café is a very popular and modern spot for breakfast and lunch. I ate breakfast here the first morning I arrived and decided to try it out later in the week as my “office.” The interior is mix of rustic and swanky. It reminded me of something I might come across in Brooklyn. There is a constant buzz of people in and out of here, which adds a great deal of energy to the inspiring decor. There are low tables in the back with comfy sofa chairs. But when I went back to sit on one, I found out that the area was for reservations only. Boo!

Connectivity
The wi-fi is decent here. I didn’t have any issues getting connected and staying connected. The downfall was that there are no plugs. I could only work here for a limited amount of time before my laptop had enough.

Would I Go Back?
Simply put, no. The overall vibe I got from the waitstaff was a feeling of exasperation when I asked about wi-fi and again when I was told I couldn’t sit in the back area where the comfy seats were (even though there were a few people working with laptops back there already). I just didn’t feel welcomed or comfortable and decided this was not a place I could work from for a good amount of the day. The food is also pretty overpriced.

 

#4 Tap Coffee

Tap Coffee is a place all hipsters will recognize from a mile away. With it’s industrial light fixtures and wooden benches, it definitely has a rustic feel and a loud mix of people coming in and out. The place is pretty narrow, but deep. In the back, there was a guy churning coffee beans around in a drum, which was pretty unique. I ordered a coffee and within a few minutes, it was brought right over to me.

Connectivity
The wi-fi is pretty strong here. I didn’t have any issues getting connected, but the outlets were limited. I originally found a seat without a plug and had to move once I saw a table available with a socket.

Would I Go Back?
Maybe, if I had no other options. The waitstaff was really polite and nice, but the bench I sat on was extremely uncomfortable. Since the bench was connected to the table, I also couldn’t adjust how far I sat from the table—and the setup was pretty tight. I wouldn’t recommend working here for more than an hour or two.

 

#3 VQ Bloomsbury

Who doesn’t love a good diner? VQ Bloomsbury is a really big 24-hour diner and café that I ate at for lunch one day… and then decided to stay for a few hours. The waitress was overjoyed when I asked if I could plug in and work for a while!

Connectivity
The wi-fi is really strong here. No issues getting connected, and outlets at every booth!

Would I Go Back?
Yes, but only if there weren’t any other cool, design-y cafés to work at. It’s a pretty standard diner and can get loud at times. It’s not exactly an inspiring place to work in, but the booth was very comfortable and the waitstaff was so nice! If you’re looking for a guaranteed comfortable spot with plenty of room, this is your place.

 

#2 My Place Soho

My Place Soho is a small and cozy dining spot with a coffee bar. It was actually the very first place I discovered and worked from. As soon as I walked in, the waitstaff behind the bar were extremely friendly. I sat right up at the coffee bar and had a nice conversation with the owner while I worked.

Connectivity
The wi-fi is really strong here. No issues getting connected, but plugs were a little hard to find. They are scattered throughout and if you ask, a waiter will crawl under the booth to plug your laptop in for you!!

Would I Go Back?
Yes, and I did two more times. The second visit I was able to sit at a table in the back corner, which was nice and comfortable. I ordered lunch and stayed for most of the day. The third visit, however, was very busy and I had to sit at the very front by the window. I was squished on a small round table top that barely had enough room for my computer and a coffee. Overall, this place is great if you can score a table in the back!

 

#1 Timberyard (TY Soho)

This. is. a freelancers. DREAM. I discovered Timberyard one evening while walking by — there were tons of people in the window working on laptops, so I took a picture of it and hunted it down the next day. As soon as you walk in, you just know… this is the place! This creative workspace has a brew bar right in the center, offering up everything from juice drinks and tea, to delicious baked goods and breakfast and lunch items. The inspiring atmosphere is booming with other designers working in a variety of lounge areas and co-working tables. I ordered tea and a scone, which was brought over to me a few minutes later on a slab of wood.

Connectivity
The wi-fi is the best here. Absolutely no issues getting connected. There are plugs everywhere!

Would I Go Back?
Without question! I worked here during most of my time in London. Make sure you get here early because it gets busy around lunch time. I never had a problem finding a seat, but sometimes you have to cram in. It’s worth being a little crammed though until some people clear out. I spent most of my days here and loved the vibe. If you are ever in London, I encourage you to find this place!

 

How about you? Have you worked in any cool places in London? I’d love to add to my list for the next time I venture over the pond.