While being in an office isn’t exactly the dream, nor is working alone at home all day (especially when you’ve eaten 12 biscuits by 11am, then have to say something out loud at 2pm to check that your voice is still working). With more people than ever working remotely, we’re here help get you out of your PJs and into the real world. Here’s our guide to the best restaurants, bars and cafés for getting your head down, so you can re-invent the wheel/write your memoirs/save the world/look at pictures of cats on a day when you're 'working from home' but not at home. Feel free to share the fruits of your labour with us…
The Book Club, Shoreditch (above)
This exuberant boogie bar draws in Generation Y-ers to dippy events such as ‘Cr** Film Club’, King Pong ping pong, twerking school, ‘death drawing classes’, and 1950s jive and disco dancing in its basement club. But it’s also open from 8am for bleary-eyed breakfasting, with spacious tables and friendly staff creating a work-conducive ambiance – the clue’s in the name.
Counter, Vauxhall (above)
Gone are the days when the only offerings in Vauxhall were a questionable 24-hour nightclub and trying to find a plug meant only one thing. Counter has sprung into one of the arches, with an all-day dining concept, mood lighting and plenty of quiet booths in which to slog away at your latest project (before skipping off to that sauna up the road, obvz).
Dean Street Townhouse, Soho (below)
You have to hand it to the Soho House Group for creating this dynamo of a place – the neighbourhood’s media goings-on would practically grind to a halt without it. The day begins over a full English and a cup of strong coffee in the buzzy ground-floor brasserie, then the area’s rakes, wordsmiths and fashionistas are back in again at lunch, making it a great place to people watch when you want to procrastinate.
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Holborn
Black-fronted DCSA is essentially a new-breed coffee shop set up by a couple of young guys from down under. Once an ironmonger’s, it has been recast and reconfigured as an uncluttered, caffeine-focused social hub supported by local designers and artists (their works are displayed on the café’s bare brick walls). You can also hire the Department’s private room for coffee-fuelled meetings around a communal table.
Forge & Co, Shoreditch (above)
Located on the ground floor of a shared events space, art gallery and hot-desking hub, Forge & Co’s self-styled ‘canteen’ is less strip lights and dinner ladies, more hip Scandi-style hangout. With friendly staff and a dedicated lounge for drinks, Forge & Co has pitched itself as a top Shoreditch spot for work or play. We suggest you dabble in both.
The Hoxton Holborn, Holborn
Yes, it’s a hotel, but one where you won’t feel out of place if you’re not a guest. Open-plan, several bars and restaurants lead off a spacious lobby, making it a versatile place for meetings, eating or solitary confinement (sorry, we mean study). In particular, Hubbard & Bell (below) has lots of booths to tuck yourself away in, with plenty of sockets for laptops, or whatever else you might be charging…
The Laundry, Hackney
Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien has converted this post-war laundry into a creative hub, with first-floor units rented out to musicians and designers. In addition to an events/club space that hosts cool all-nighters, the site now incorporates a pared-down post-industrial canteen and bar to keep you sustained as you toil. Kurobuta’s Scott Hallsworth recently set up shop here too with the arrival of Joe’s Oriental Diner, so you can get stuck into a bit of Asian once you’ve finished writing that paragraph, of course.
Look Mum No Hands, London Fields and Clerkenwell
This freewheeling social hub/art gallery/cycle-themed shop is ideal if you fancy networking on a one-to-one basis, firing up your hardware, touching base with other blue-sky thinkers and sharing all of your other very worst business jargon phrases. Breakfast staples and espresso shots are all part of the regular service, so you’ll quickly bust that hangover before settling down to a day of really hard graft.
No. 67, Camberwell (above)
By day, No. 67 functions as a café – albeit one where the coffee is from Allpress, and breakfast includes the quirky ‘full Spanglish' starring paprika-laden chorizo and spicy morcilla. Sounds like exactly the kind of place a south London freelancer should spend the day. By night, the area’s trendy sophisticates come out to play, so get your mates to meet you and join the throng.
Seven, Brixton (below)
If you fancy yourself as an arty type, head down to this cheap and cheerful daytime caff in Brixton Market, which morphs into a rustic, Spanish-style backstreet bar come evening. Exhibits by local artists are featured in a punky, anarchic gallery space above which is sure to get your creative juices flowing. Then enjoy a selection of wines at peasant prices, which will suit your whole impoverished artiste image.
Shoreditch Grind, Shoreditch
This post-industrial refectory on Old Street’s silicon roundabout opens for continental-style breakfasts, and offers an all-day roster of cakes, soups and sandwiches. The ‘grind’ of the title refers to freshly roasted and brewed coffee in all its forms, from skinny lattes during the day to espressos in the evening, so there’s absolutely no excuse not to work from dawn to dusk.
Timberyard, Seven Dials
This ‘co-working’ café is an excellent halfway house for when you don’t want to go to work (feigning interest in Michael from Accounts’s cacti collection again may result in murders), but want the buzz of other work-y types around you. Super-speedy Wi-Fi and flat whites practically on tap: it doesn’t get much more productive than this.
This article was published 27 July 2015