Like many itinerant workers, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops (though I recently started branching out to pubs!). When I started freelancing I read a lot of lists about the best places to work for freelancers in London. The one thing they all had in common was that there was almost no mention of spots in north London.
It’s a place often overlooked: not as posh as west London, not as trendy as east London, not as ‘up-and-coming’ as south London… I get it. But that’s what I like. North London doesn’t try too hard and I dig that laid-back vibe.
These aren’t all the places I work but I wanted to show off some of the spotsin the darkest recesses of north London – you know, outside of Islington and Camden.
I judged these places on 6 criteria: Price (not cheap but value for money), Food & Drink (tempting food, tasty coffee, tea, or tipple), Tech (wi-fi speed and plug options), Vibe (too loud, death stares from staff?), Comfort (seating, temperature, spaciousness), Location (near public transport).
In no particular order, here are the best places to work for freelancers in London:
This new north London coffee shop is a 5 minute walk from Finsbury Park station. They serve traditionally English fare and one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in London. If you order anything make it their unique Orancino: a cappuccino poured over a fresh orange peel. In the summer they have a great garden with a bar in the back. They offer hot desks and co-working spaces at great prices. I think Finsbury Park is getting cool.
Downsides: The wi-fi is a bit testy, you definitely need to pack extra layers, and I feel a bit bad staying for long periods without ordering.
Starbucks Wells Terrace
Yes, I know. It’s a chain. But I feel no shame about spending £2 and sitting here all day compared to doing the same at an independent café. I call it ‘sticking it to the man’. This Starbucks is one of few north of Islington, it’s new, has plenty of charging points, and fast wi-fi. The best part? The staff will never ask you to leave.
Downsides: It’s expensive, you smell like roasting coffee when you go home, and the food and coffee aren’t great (though you do spend less money that way).
There isn’t much to go to East Finchley for, but it’s near Hampstead Heath, and a short walk to The Bishops Avenue, home of multi-million dollar mansions. If you ever wanted to know what a giant waste of money looks like, walk down this street filled with empty mansions. This pub is right next to East Finchley station on the Northern Line and they’ve got fast wi-fi and cheap pints. It’s warm inside and has that perfect dimmed lights pub vibe. Service is good and the patrons are a relaxed bunch.
Downsides: You have to look for outlets, food is pricey but fabulous.
This Stoke Newington café makes a mean flat white, but don’t try to order an Americano – call it a long black or it’s far too chavvy for this spot. They have comfortable couches and a good amount of seating. It only gets really busy around lunch time when the mums and strollers come. The thing I love here is that they have a bike rack and tire pump inside – perfect for bike commuters who want to keep their precious out of the rain.
Downsides: Not easily accessible by Tube or Overground.
A glass of Merlot and fast wi-fi will sort out any freelancer that works late and wakes up to wine rings on their notes. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a convenient spot next to Holloway Road station with a good wine selection. It’s a little expensive but offset by 2-for-1 pizzas three days a week, and the ‘Buy 2 large glasses, get the rest of the bottle free’ deal on Tuesdays (maybe save that for when you’re not working…).
Downsides: Not enough plugs, gets loud after work and during matches but you shouldn’t be working when Arsenal is playing anyway!
This place is a favorite on the list of roving freelancer’s places to work, and that’s because it’s a classic. You don’t mess with a classic. The British Library is right next to Kings Cross/St. Pancras station, it’s hard to beat in terms of convenience. There are communal tables, combo chair desks, and cushiony seats for getting work done. Take a break or get inspired in their changing gallery exhibits.
Downsides: Gets very busy and difficult to find a place to sit; no food or coffee options inside but it’s nearby great cafés and restaurants like Caravan and newly opened Dishoom.
This is one of the oldest continuously operating cinemas in the UK and it’s well-located on East Finchley High Road. They have plenty of outlets, fast wi-fi, and the staff hasn’t looked at me funny for sitting there all day once. It’s warm in the winter and perfect if you want to watch a matinee film as a break. Great coffee, food, and cakes top this off as one of my favourite favourites.
Downsides: Busy when a film is about to start, but they file into the theatre shortly after eating and buying drinks.
Tell me: Where do you like to work in north London? Any places I should definitely check out? Don’t forget to share this post in solidarity with the neglected north Londoners!
Lead photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr. CC-licensed at time of publication.