ask for janice farringdon - avocado on toast

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

Bishopsgate Library

This beautiful little library is just round the corner from Liverpool Street, but you wouldn’t know it from the silence inside.

It’s contained within the Bishopsgate Institute and completely open to the public, so 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

Address: 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH

More information: Visit the Bishopsgate Institute website

The Barbican Cinema Cafe

Barbican Cinema Cafe, London

Image: A Peace of London

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

Address: Art’s Centre, Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS

More information: Read my review here or visit the Barbican website

Hanbury Hall Café

Tea, lunch and silence at @hanburyhallldn. Tap the link in my bio for more quiet places to write (all with free wifi!)

A post shared by Quiet London blogger (@apeaceoflondon) on

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

Address: 22 Hanbury Street, London E1 6QR

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

Address: Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS

More information:

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

Address: 20 Tavistock Place, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9RE

More information:

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

Address: 5 Pancras Road, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AG

More information: Visit the Camden Council website

The British Library

british library

Credit: Guido D´Elia Otero on Flickr

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 are 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

Address: 96 Euston Road, Kings Cross, London NW1 2DB

More information:

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

Address: Belvedere Road, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX

More information: Southbank Centre website

Ask for Janice

ask for janice farringdon - avocado on toast

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

Address: 50-52 Long Lane, London EC1A 9EJ

More information: Ask for Janice website

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Comments (48)

  1. Hi!

    So nice to see this list. How busy do these places get? It’s almost impossible to find a spot at The British Library.


    1. Hi Shaz, thanks for your comment! It depends on when you go. Weekends are usually busier anywhere but then I’ve usually been able to get a spot at the Barbican cinema cafe even on Sundays. Barbican centre you might have to go up to the library or one of the top levels. Bishopsgate Library is always pretty quiet but it’s only open during the week.

  2. What a great list of places and a cool idea for a blog! I love visiting london but always insist it’s too busy for me to live there but this list is kinds making me want to reconsider :p

    As a writer it would be lovely to have so many libraries and tea shops to twiddle away an afternoon at the keys.

    Great post! I just discovered you on an historian about towns blog. I only wish this were a wordpress blog so that new posts would show up in my reader but ive subscribed :)

    1. Hi, thanks so much for your comment! London can be quiet if only you know where to look :) Hope the blog helps on your next trip. And thanks for subscribing! :)

  3. Ooh, some great ideas to check out here. My computer battery life is appalling, though – do all of these have plug sockets available (esp. Bishopsgate Inst – that looks fantastic)? I’m looking for that elusive trinity of wifi, (inexpensive) tea and plug sockets!

    1. Hi Jennie, yes I’m pretty sure all of these have plug sockets available. I know Bishopsgate Institute does definitely, and their wifi is pretty good too!

  4. Hi Charlotte, thanks for your great article. Do you know whether it is possible to just walk in the British Library and take a seat and table or do I need a membership card? Thanks a lot for your help!

    1. Hi Fleur, thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay! Yes, you can just take a seat in the British Library, although you’ll need to create an online account and login to use their free wifi.

  5. This article is great timing – Im in town tis week and was looking for a place to write for a few hours. I’m thinking of trying the Barbican Library – would that be a good choice?

  6. This is great Charlotte! Love the list! I haven’t been to any of them, oops :).
    By the way, I was looking for places where I can work on my own as am a freelancer, but also need places where I can make phone calls as well.

    Is that possible at all in the list above? Do they have phone booths or areas, where I can make phone calls without others hearing it? Like business calls etc….?

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure whether you would guarantee whether the above places have somewhere where no one would hear a phone call. As far as I know, they don’t have phone booths or anything like that. You could try contacting the individual places to see if there’s anything they can suggest?

  7. Your list really saved me today. I had a deadline, internet in my homeoffice that broke down, then a sudden downpour on my way to the office… A quick google search and I found your post, with Bishopsgate Library only a few yards away where I was sheltering from the rain. I didn’t even know it was a library there! And it was exactly as you described. A few hours later I had the job done and delivered – and guess what! It had stopped raining too. :)

  8. Love this – thanks for sharing! I’ve been doing the same myself for at least a year but there’s a good few on your list I didn’t know about. I would add your local public library – the new(ish) one at Canada Water is pretty good and right next to the tube station, with a view over the water.

    1. Hi Anna, thanks for your comment! I’m working on a larger version of this list at the moment so will pay a visit to Canada Water Library for my research. Loads of local libraries in that already as they’re such a good resource. If you know of any other quiet spots for writing, do let me know and I will make sure to consider them. Thanks again. Enjoy your writing!

  9. Wonderful list! My new hideout is the ArtHouse cinema in Crouch End, the upstairs of their cafe is nice and cosy, their wifi is fast (vital!) and no one really knows anything is up there so it’s just me, my blog and that nice cafe hum in the background!

    1. Thanks Chris! This sounds wonderful. I might be paying a visit very soon as I’ve got a lot of writing to do over the next few weeks…

  10. Thank you for this perfect list! A just found the ideal place to work and it’s been under my eyes for months whithout realizing it!

  11. Thank you Charlotte for your fab list. I visit Hanbury Hall for my workshops, I can say is a fantastic and quite place in the heart of Shoreditch and I discovered it on your blog :) I am so grateful for this!

  12. This is one of those sanity-saving posts that I want to share with everyone (but I won’t in case they come and spoil the nice quiet workspaces!).

    Thanks so much Charlotte.

  13. Hey Charlotte!
    Thanks so much for writing this. After a long bout of writer’s block, a friend sent me this blog post and this week, I’m working my way through the list. Yesterday I tried the Barbican Centre where I got a lot done, which was great! I found it a bit dark though, so today I might check out the British Library…
    Thanks again for sharing!

  14. Lovely theme for an article. Finding some solitude in this great city is not always easy. Also intrigued by your mention of Bloomsbury Coffee House. Definitely want to go and pay a visit and see how it fairs.

  15. Thank you Charlotte! You may just have saved my day job (and sanity ;)) am planning to scope out the East London spots on Saturday! Looking forward to more of the same (subscribed!). Am field based but home working far too isolating.

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