9 quiet places to write in central London (with free wifi)
With lots of distractions and two very noisy cats at home, finding quiet cafés, libraries, coffee shops, and other places to work and write within easy reach in central London is essential for my productivity.
So I’ve tried quite a few of them (with varying levels of success) on my travels and now have a good selection to choose from when I need to be left alone with my laptop and some decent free wifi.
Here are a few of my top spots. Is yours on the list? Let me know if I’ve missed your favourite in the comments below, or drop me a message…
This beautiful little library is just round the corner from Liverpool Street, but you wouldn’t know it from the silence inside. Contained within the Bishopsgate Institute and completely open to the public, there’s no need to sign up to use the free wifi, newspapers or study area. A true gem.
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 10am-5.30pm (until 8pm on Wednesdays); Closed Saturday and Sunday
More information: Visit the Bishopsgate Institute website
The Barbican Cinema Cafe
I’ve written specifically about this lovely place before and I’m including it as a separate point from the Barbican Centre here, as it feels so much more chilled-out and homely compared to its concrete big brother.
The cafe next to the cinema is a lot cosier than the centre itself and little-known enough to be quiet, even on weekends. The opening hours are also almost as good as the centre itself and I still can’t get over how scrumptious their tomato soup is (I know that’s a strange thing to keep banging on about, but it’s really good).
Nearest Tube: Barbican
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8am–10.30pm; Saturday and Sunday: 10am–10.30pm
Hanbury Hall Café
Hanbury Hall is fast becoming a favourite for east London freelancers in the know, thanks to its free (and fast) wifi, plenty of seating spread out over several different areas, and gorgeous food to top it all off. The upstairs area was almost completely silent when I visited as well, even though it was a busy Friday afternoon at Spitalfields Market just down the road, which certainly helped for a very productive afternoon of work.
Highly recommended for anyone wanting to switch off with lovely tea and coffee practically on tap…
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am-5pm; Saturday 10am-5pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm
More information: Visit the Hanbury Hall website
The Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre is the stuff of a quiet writer’s dreams…
Not only can you get free super-fast wifi, a cup of tea for £1.70 and plenty of plug sockets for your laptop, you can sit here and work for hours on end, without having to pay a penny.
It’s also open until 11pm every night (even on bank holidays) and it’s quiet enough to work there on a weekend, too (check out some of the higher levels if the ground floor is a bit busy). I like wandering up to the library to clear my head when I fancy a break.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 9am–11pm; Sunday: 11am-11pm; Bank Holidays: 12 noon–11pm
Nearest Tube: Barbican
More information: barbican.org.uk
Bloomsbury Coffee House
My favourite coffee shop in London and, in my view, a perfect place to write and soak up the studious atmosphere from the university students who surround you.
The word ‘quiet’ is a little ambiguous for this one since it’s off the beaten track with a ‘local’ vibe (and it’s certainly quieter than Starbucks) but there is lots going on with people chatting all around you. So if you like some background noise while you work, then go right ahead.
There’s free wifi available and I promise you’ll find something lovely to fuel your brain, from lovely coffee and tea to big slices of cake and breakfast muesli.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8am-4pm (term time until 6pm); Saturday and Sunday 8am-1.30pm
Nearest Tube: Russell Square or Euston Square
More information: bloomsburycoffeehouse.co.uk
Pancras Square Library
Free wifi and lots of shiny open space are on offer at Pancras Square Library’s new premises at the 14-storey 5 Pancras Square, Kings Cross. There’s everything you need for a break, too: as well as the wide selection of books, DVDs and CDs on offer, you can also peruse the newspapers and magazines or relax at the onsite cafe.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 8am- 8pm; Sunday 11am-5pm
Nearest Tube: King’s Cross St. Pancras
More information: Visit the Camden Council website
The British Library
The British Library might seem like an obvious place to mention in a list of quiet spaces to write in the city, but it’s so well set-up for writers and just a damn lovely place that I’m putting it in anyway.
There’s free wifi, fancy writing desks and a few literary masterpieces surrounding you if you need some inspiration. For a well-earned break, head to the Sir John Ritblat Treasures gallery just downstairs, where you can view gems like Shakespeare’s First Folio, Jane Austen’s notebooks, and Alice’s own copy of Alice in Wonderland.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 9.30am-8pm; Friday 9.30am-6pm; Saturday 9.30am-5pm; Sunday 11am-5pm
Nearest Tube: Euston or King’s Cross
More information: bl.uk
The Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre has open space aplenty (both inside and out) plus views of the river from the terrace and loads of cafes to choose from. Free wifi is available at the Royal Festival Hall and there are libraries onsite too (including The Poetry Library) for when you need a break from all your hard work.
Opening hours: Royal Festival Hall is open 10am – 11pm every day
Nearest Tube: Waterloo
More information: Southbank Centre website
Ask for Janice
This cool and minimalist cafe in Smithfields is open from early in the morning so you can start writing early if you’re a morning person. They have an impressive breakfast menu to kick-start your writing brain, too: their toast and crumpets are reasonably priced, and they have more substantial items like avocado on toast if you’re feeling particularly hungry. Decent free wifi is included.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 7:30am-12:30am; Saturday 4pm – 12:30am
Nearest Tube: Farringdon or Barbican
More information: Ask for Janice website
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