‘Help yourself to coffee and biscuits!’ says Ziferblat’s impossibly smiley hostess, as she opens a kitchen cupboard. ‘Or I think we’ve got peanut butter and toast. Oh, and onions…’. I’m led to a kitchen, told to consider the place a ‘social space you treat like your home’, shown how to use the espresso machine and urged to bring in a meal or make one using the food in the cupboards (hence the onions).
This is no ordinary café, it's the UK’s first branch of this Russian chain of pay-per- minute hangouts. Everything here is free, but just being there costs three pence per 60 seconds.
People wander about, helping themselves to drinks, two students pore over books and on one table there’s evidence of flower arranging. As a record player softly pumps out Motown and fairy lights twinkle from the walls, it feels like a relaxed common room. But you don’t get many common rooms decked out in such an impeccable selection of cool retro furniture: it’s part living room, part vintage homeware store, a lovely place to hang out without pressure to buy stuff. We may only be a week into 2014, but this has to be a contender for quirkiest opening of the year. If not, I’ll eat those onions. Raw.
388 Old Street
|Opening hours:||10am-midnight daily|
|Transport:||Tube: Old Street tube/rail; Rail: Shoreditch High Street Overground|
|Do you own this business?|
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