No overheads, no commute, every day is a dress down day if you want it to be and you can work cross-legged on your sofa or in a hammock in the Caribbean.
For many people, life as a digital nomad — loosely defined as someone who can work online in a location of their choice — is the dream. It offers a sense of freedom: like work is a permanent adventure rather than a necessary grind.
But let’s be real: most digital nomads — also known rather less romantically as self-employed or freelance — spend their lives either at their kitchen tables or in local cafes.
According to IPSE more than 4.8 million Britains now identify as self-employed which is seeing a rise in demand for work-friendly spaces across the country and certainly in the capital. In online freelancer forums the question: “Can anyone recommend a quiet place to work in London?” is frequently asked.
But what makes the perfect place for a digital nomad to work?
Strong Wi-Fi and good coffee are musts. Noise levels are subjective — some people like a bit of a buzz while, others want as much silence as is possible in a public space.
Many digital nomads want to see likeminded people each day: a proximity to others within their field gives a sense of community that many self-employed people don’t have.
But mostly, a space that is welcoming, friendly and relatively peaceful is going to work. Oh, and somewhere with plenty of power sockets!
While private members’ clubs are really popular with a lot of self-employed folk, not everyone can afford the membership or, frankly, the cost of the coffee.
So, we’ve rounded up some of the best, inclusive spots for digital nomads to open their laptops in London. All but one of these places are technically free to enter, but it goes without saying that ordering absolutely nothing while using the Wi-Fi for hours on end is unlikely to go down well.
Vibe: Hot desk heaven
High ceilings, huge spiral staircase, greenery in the middle of Shoreditch – this is exactly the sort of space every digital nomad fantasises about finding.
You don’t need to book – in fact you can’t reserve a desk, but there is almost always space. If you buy a hot desk pass (£10 a day, with weekly and monthly passes available too) you can have bottomless coffee and it works in Serata Hall’s sister venues, Martello Hall in Hackney, Teatro Hall in Ealing and Canova Hall in Brixton. There is soon to be another venue opening up in Clapham, too.
Because there is the expectation of hot deskers, the staff is well-versed in customers who are here to work – the service is slick but discreet; there is no danger of frequent interruptions to see if you have everything you need.
Best for: Working alongside other self-employed freelancers.
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm
Where? 207 Old Street, London, EC1V 9NR
The British Library Reading Rooms
Vibe: Serious study sessions
Where better to get your head down than the UK’s national library and one of the biggest libraries in the world – home to some 14 million books? Choose between 11 of the Reading Rooms in the British Library to immerse yourself in projects or tasks that require concentration and contemplation. There is a formal atmosphere – don’t even think about bringing a packed lunch and munching on the job or allowing your phone to buzz with abandon. The rules might be strict but the knowledge that this space is, and continues to be, somewhere that so much extraordinary work is created and lives makes it feel really special.
While it is free to enter, you will need to pick up a Reader Pass to gain access.
Best for: The sweet sound of silence – chatterboxes will not be tolerated.
Opening hours: 9:30am to 8pm
Where? 96 Euston Rd, NW1 2DB
b2 at Bermondsey Square Hotel
It welcomes anyone with no fixed work address and invites them to see this space as a (stylish and comfortable) office. You can drop in but we recommending booking your space to avoid disappointment. Alongside the abundant power sockets including USB and superfast fibre optic Wi-Fi, there’s a TV area, big sofas and friendly faces.
Best for: Dog owners. Yep, your pooch is welcome.
Price: £12.50 per person for four hours – this includes your workspace, three cups of tea or coffee plus a sandwich and chips.
Opening hours: 11am to 9pm weekdays
Where? Bermondsey Square, Tower Bridge Road, Southwark, SE1 3UN.
Leafi at Foyles Bookshop
Vibe: Buzzy café
Right at the top of Foyles is light and airy space where you can type away all day long. Around lunchtime it tends to get very busy here – thanks, in part to the small but delicious selection of salads, quiches and cakes – so be prepared to ask to share a table or to share yours. What’s lovely is that you’ll catch snatches of conversations between bookworms and find your mental reading list expands with every passing hour.
Best for: Ensuring you will end the day with a new book – we defy anyone to descend five floors of literary treasures without making at least one purchase.
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm
Where? 107 Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 0DT
Courtyard café at Wallace Collection
Vibe: Stately escapism
Surely one of the most glamorous places to open your laptop in the whole of London, the Atrium Café at the Wallace Collection is central and yet not mainstream. The café is part of the Wallace Collection, a museum dedicated to fine art and antiquities, so expect a refined clientele. There is a restaurant here too, so plenty of people will be having jolly lunches and knocking back vino, which could be a deal breaker for those who value pin-drop silence when they work.
Best for: The beautiful glass roof – and the carrot cake is pretty good, too.
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm
Where? Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN
The Standard Library Lounge
Vibe: Retro cool
Once home to Camden Council Library, this achingly cool retro-inspired space in the heart of The Standard Hotel is loyal to its roots and is abundantly stocked with reference books on all sorts of topics that you are actively encouraged to explore. Despite being so good-looking, this lounge also feels functional – there are plenty of actual tables rather than coffee tables, which are always a bad idea for the posture of anyone who uses a laptop all day. Also, it’s perfect for after-work drinks: laptop closes, cocktail menu opens.
Best for: Early birds.
Opening hours: 7am until 6pm when a ‘no laptops’ policy begins
Where? 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG
Vibe: Clean minimalism
Aside from the insanely good coffee – with seasonal changes to the menu for connoisseurs, juices and plenty of power sockets, one of the main draws to Nola is how light and bright it is in there, which puts a spring in your step. Or would if you weren’t sitting down. It’s just really beautiful and uplifting which is exactly the sort of space that feels good to work in. The all-day brunch menu means you won’t go hungry, regardless of when you want to tuck in.
There are plenty of digital nomads here – you certainly won’t be the only one with your nose in a laptop.
Best for: Anyone wanting to escape chaos and clutter.
Opening hours: 8am to 4pm
Where? 224 Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4NL