Explore London

Seven best alternative places to work

Fancy working somewhere different?

The trendy hotel (Shoreditch)

Found in the heart of Shoreditch, The Hoxton is designed for hipsters – we’re talking great, customisable coffee. Popular with start-ups, the buzz of innovation in the atmosphere is contagious while their large meeting rooms double up as fully-stocked kitchens (including complementary snacks).

Why should you go there? At the end of the day you can unwind in one of the innumerable nearby bars.

Interesting fact: Apt for the city that never sleeps, The Hoxton is open from 7am until 2am, for whenever you find inspiration.

What’s wrong with it? Annoyingly they don’t refill your tea, so if it’s too strong or you want to add just a bit more of boiled water, you can only re-order a new pot of tea.

The room with a view (Southbank)

The Royal Festival Hall is host to some of London’s finest concerts, and if that isn’t music to your ears, it’s also a great place to work. Good bars, free wi-fi; but most impressive is its fantastic view of the Thames, wide enough to handle even the brightest ideas. The terrace area is open in the summer, providing a cool place for meetings.

Why should you go there? Easy to pop down by the river for a break, or a cheeky concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Interesting fact: there is a beehive on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall, known as the Royal Festival Hive. Central London is an excellent place for keeping bees, as there is a wide variety of plant life.

What’s wrong with it? Food and drinks are quite pricey, while visitors in the Southbank Centre there to see the exhibitions or concerts can be distracting.

The hip place (Soho)

A café, but designed for creatives. Timberyardoffers both casual tables available as well as designated workspaces on the ground floor which can be booked, so it is ideal for casual and more formal meetings. Their best asset (in addition to its great, central location) is its range of speciality teas and coffees, ideal for keeping you fuelled right through to its 7pm closing time.

Why should you go there? Central, open-plan and inspiring, with art almost as beautiful as its selection of tea.

Interesting fact: In addition to the usual free wi-fi and selection of food and drinks, they provide ‘reverse osmosis’ water. Nice.

What’s wrong with it? Not that big so you may have to wait for a free space (or check out their Covent Garden (tyuk.com/locations/ty-seven-dials/) branch).

The luxury hotel (Marylebone)

In general hotel lobbies are tidy places to spend time working, with free wi-fi, plug sockets and (depending where you go) plush surroundings. The Mandeville Hotel in Marylebone has all three, providing a superb West End stop-off for some serious grind.

Why should you go there? ‘Luxury boutique’ is how the hotel describes itself, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Interesting fact: In 1936 the Mandeville Place was going to be re-named as Marylebone High Street, but shopkeepers objected as they wanted to retain their links with the posher Oxford Street.

What’s wrong with it? While great for meetings, it may be a little stuffy for some companies, especially at the start-up stage.

The posh canteen (Shoreditch)

Another great spot in Shoreditch is the Canteen at Forge & Co. Not only is it a great social and working environment but it also has a fantastic lunch menu, making it a good informal meeting place. It’s even possible to book in advance for tables and sofas to secure space during busier periods. It does get a bit louder towards the night, so best to get your work done earlier in the day.

Why should you go there? Delicious lunch, social atmosphere, variety of tea and coffee. You can also have some drinks later on.

Interesting fact: You can also hang out here on weekends for their scrumptious brunch. For £10 you can even add bottomless prosecco.

What’s wrong with it? No plugs in the sofa area (but they are in the table area).

The artists’ hangout (Soho)

Free wi-fi, a fine café… These all make the Photographers’ Gallery is a fun, creative workspace that is great for meetings. However, what really sets it apart is the plethora of photos and exhibitions held in the gallery. Since 1971 the venue has been a space of cutting-edge photography, providing the perfect lunchtime respite from those meetings.

Why should you go there? It’s an oasis of calm on Ramilles Street, round the corner and a world away from Oxford Street.

Interesting fact: With regular events and discussions on contemporary photography, you may find new inspiration for your business from an alternative source.

What’s wrong with it? There was only one plug (last time we went). Slight issue there.

The place where time stands still (Old Street)

Ziferblat on Old Street offers a unique concept, charging you for the time spent there, not for food or drink. Describing itself as a ‘treehouse for adults’, the café feels like an extension of your grandmother’s living room, filled with comfy chairs, art and boardgames.

Why should you go there? A comforting and unlimited range of breakfast foods and coffee, if you need a break there’s even a piano.

Interesting fact: Ziferblat means ‘clockface’ in Russian, from where the company originates with branches across Moscow, St. Petersburg and, previously, Liverpool.

What’s wrong with it? Just don’t oversleep.