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17 unexpected places for freelancers to work in London

Do you really need to rent a desk in a shared office? From shops to theatre bars, we pick surprising places to whip out your laptop

By Bobby Palmer
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Remote working is having a moment. You might have noticed. These days, you can’t turn a corner in the capital without stumbling across a new co-working space, with its promises of free fruit and ping-pong tables for a few hundred pounds a month.

Why bother? Scratch the surface, and you’ll see that there are loads of London spots that have everything the discerning freelancer needs. Ignore claustrophobic cafés and overpriced ‘hubs’ (nope, us neither), these are the best places to work in London.

Places to work in London

FOOD_DrinkShopDo2_CREDIT_DanielGianini_pressa2011.jpg
© Daniel Gianini

Drink, Shop & Do

Bars and pubs Café bars Caledonian Road

At this quirky King’s Cross café, there’s loads of space for freelancers among the brightly coloured tables and jazzy hanging lanterns. Grab a coffee and a pastry to work through the day, then stick around in the evening for a glitter lettering workshop or some vagina cupcake decorating. That’s all bases covered, then.

Photograph: Camilla Greenwell

Wellcome Café

Museums Science and technology Euston

The Wellcome Collection is one of London’s hidden gems, an enormous, totally free museum and library of scientific artefacts and medical paraphernalia for the ‘incurably curious’. If that’s you, its spacious café welcomes hard workers with open arms.

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Chucs at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Restaurants Grills Hyde Park

Fancy making Hyde Park your new office? The café side of this uber-cool restaurant – in the Zaha Hadid-designed Serpentine Sackler Gallery – is a workers’ haven away from the toil and trouble of London’s busy (and much less pretty) co-working spaces.

Venue says Serving up brunch, lunch & dinner in Zaha Hadid’s remarkable extension to the Serpentine Gallery.

Photograph: Andrew Burton

Garden Café at the Charles Dickens Museum

Museums Bloomsbury

While the man himself might have preferred a quill and ink to a battered MacBook Air, that doesn’t mean you can’t channel his writing spirit in the museum café. The floral courtyard is a welcome breath of fresh air in an otherwise busy part of Bloomsbury.

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Fifth Floor Café at Harvey Nichols

Shopping Home decor Knightsbridge

Free wi-fi for all customers means you can take a seat in the department store’s stylish fifth-floor café and raise a glass of bubbly to celebrate a productive day definitely not spent idly scrolling through your Twitter feed.

Booking.com

The Distillery

Hotels Portobello Road

The perfect Friday destination for freelancers, this working gin distillery lets you take a pew to fire off some last-minute email chases before treating yourself to a chaser of mother’s ruin. You deserve it.

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Tate Modern

Art Galleries Bankside

There are a number of restaurants and cafés at Tate Modern, most with an enviable view of the Thames. Best of them is the bright and airy eighth-floor Granville-Grossman Members Room in the Blavatnik Building (formerly the Switch House). Membership starts at £90 a year, which is a lot less than the cost of renting desk space at a WeWork – and you get access to all the exhibitions too.

The Wren Coffee at St Nicholas Cole Abbey

Restaurants Cafés Blackfriars

If you spend your days praying for unpaid invoices to be resolved, where better to work than in a church? St Nicholas Cole Abbey hosts a midweek service but it’s also home to The Wren Coffee café from Monday to Friday. Aside from its beautiful interior, the space benefits from loads of natural light and top-quality coffee. Amen!

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Tamesis Dock

Music Music venues Vauxhall

For the money-conscious freelancer, London pubs have to offer that extra something to warrant splashing out on a drink as decadent as a pint or a G&T. How about a pub on a barge? Yep, that’ll do.

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© Ben Rowe

Look Mum No Hands!

Restaurants Cafés Old Street

This café-cum-bike workshop is a fave destination for Lycra lovers, with cycling events often shown on the big screen. It’s a great spot for freelancers, too, with its peloton decorations and windowside seats for those riding solo. Bonus points if you cycle there too.

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Garden Museum

Museums History Lambeth

This gorgeous museum housed in an old church on the south bank of the Thames is unsurprisingly famed for its gardens. Its Garden Café offers all the tranquillity of an alfresco Zen retreat while also providing cover from the rain.

Hurwundeki 15

Restaurants Coffeeshops Bethnal Green

Want to make the most of your time? There’s no better way to do it than at this Korean restaurant, café and creative space, where you can also get a haircut. The ‘15’ in the name refers to the number of minutes they’ll take to cut your hair, so you can totally squeeze a trim into a screen break.

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Fortnum & Mason

Shopping Department stores St James’s

This foodie-friendly department store has ideal remote-working credentials: take your pick of the spacious gallery and the low-key 3 and 6 Bar. In need of a sugary pick-me-up? The wi-fi here extends to the ice-cream parlour on the first floor. Sweet!

V&A

Museums Art and design South Kensington

There’s free wi-fi throughout the V&A, so you can hot-desk anywhere, from the stunning National Art Library to the Silver and Ceramics Galleries. One look at the historic main café, with its domed roof and marble columns, and you won’t want to work anywhere else.

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Southwark Playhouse Bar

Theatre Private theatres Elephant & Castle

Minutes away from Elephant & Castle tube, you’ll find one of London’s loveliest off-West End theatres – but this is a destination for more than just aspiring thespians. In the charming bar there’s free wi-fi, fresh pastries and plenty
of nooks and crannies where you can hide
away for the day.

Doodle Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Bermondsey

Perfect for the more creative remote worker, Bermondsey’s Doodle Bar allows (even encourages) you to draw all over the walls when the confines of your laptop screen start to be a little too limiting or you’re stuck staring at the spinning rainbow wheel of doom.

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Burgh House

The Buttery Café at Burgh House

Restaurants Hampstead

This majestic mansion sits on the south side of Hampstead Heath, housing the historic collections of Hampstead Museum. The café offers a range of locally sourced treats, and is an opulent location for decluttering your inbox.

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