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March 22, 2024 —

15 inspiring co-working spots for creatives in London

If you need a change of scenery during the working day, then check out these 15 (mostly free) co-working spaces that you will find in London, where the surroundings will excite and inspire
Free Co-working spaces in London - Kingsland Locke
Co-working in the Southbank Centre in London
Johanne Bertaux-Strenna
Writer,
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Are you a digital nomad, a freelancer, a work-from-homer? Need a change of scenery, a break from your neighbours, your co-workers, your kids? Whether you are a Londoner, or perhaps just visiting the city and need a place to work, we have rounded up a selection of tried and tested places around the capital that you will love to hunker down and get productive in!

Full of character, these places are inspiring, comfy and easily accessible from most parts of the city. They don’t require you to purchase a membership, encourage hot-desking and won’t limit your time – which is often the case in many of Central London’s crowded coffee shops. Most importantly, they boast free and fast wifi, plenty of plug points, a productive and inspiring atmosphere in spacious settings. And, there’s coffee, lots of good coffee.Interior of 100 Hotel in London's Shoreditch. A suitable co-working space for creatives

1. One Hundred Shoreditch Hotel

If you’ve lived in London for a while, you might remember the popular Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street. An electric creative hub, the hotel lobby was already a haven for cool Shoreditch creatives, where guests had their pick from a collection of bars, restaurants and an event space. Falling prey to the Covid-19 pandemic, the hotel closed its doors in early 2020.

But, since a refurbishment by the Lore Group, headed by Creative director Jacu Strauss, the new One Hundred Shoreditch hotel feels like a slightly more grown-up version of its predecessor. A palette of tan and beige tones, natural materials like wood, cork and leather, and large, round sculptures crafted by Jan Hendzel Studio lend a soothing organic feel to the new lobby.

Still very much open to co-workers, the space centres around the same table previously in the Ace, only with a new finish, rounder edges and power sockets elegantly hidden underneath. You can happily type away here until 6pm, set yourself up on the wall-to-wall white couch or in one of the many individual armchairs.

In the spirit of the former Ace, One Hundred Shoreditch also offers a selection of food and drink, with a stylish coffee shop, restaurant, and bar on hand. The coffee shop itself – open daily from 7am to 5pm – serves the excellent locally roasted Origin coffee. Should you need more space, there are meeting rooms and an event space (one with incredible skyline views) available – and you could always spend the night if you get too comfy in those leather armchairs.

100 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JQ | onehundredshoreditch.com

interior of The Hoxton in London's Shoreditch - a great place for free co-working

2. The Hoxton

There’s a reason why The Hoxton, Shoreditch, a fixture in Great Eastern Street for nearly two decades now, is a go-to for digital nomads – it’s awesome! When I visited, the laid-back and friendly staff confirmed that anyone is welcome to work here, all day, with no obligation to purchase or need to book in advance.

On the open-house hospitality scene, The Hoxton Shoreditch is one of the OGs. Built in 2006 from an old car park, the hotel lobby has been welcoming remote workers daily. There are now a few other locations in London to choose from, including the very popular branch in Holborn and one in Southwark, which also offers access to the Working From_ membership scheme.

Inside, you’ll find a generous open space, decorated in typical, industrial Shoreditch style, with a large wire bookcase throughout, leather sofas, exposed brick walls and even two fireplaces.

Get here early to pick your spot. There’s individual tables towards the back of the space, which have their own lamps and power sockets. Also popular is the large communal table near the fireplace, which has the advantage of getting lots of natural light from the floor-to-(nearly) ceiling windows nearby.

This is an all-day destination, where you can get a hot drink or pastry from the café, food from the grill, and even snap a photo or two in the analogue photobooth – and from 8pm, there is a DJ too, to help you transition you from work to play.

Need more space, for more people? There is the option to book a room in the homey “Apartment”, which houses a selection of meeting rooms and events space that will make you feel right at home.

81 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3HU | thehoxton.com

Co-working creatives at Mama Shelter, London3. Mama Shelter

Tucked away in East London near Columbia Road flower market, a stone’s throw from Bethnal Green tube and Cambridge Heath overground, Mama Shelter is a quirky and sassy hotel with a buzzy community vibe.

Come for the exuberant, maximalist interiors designed by Paris-based studio Dion and Arles, who have curated an array of mismatched furnishings in different textures, patterns and colours, to get your creative juices flowing. Every inch of space has been covered, from ceiling to carpet, so it’s definitely not for the faint of heart!

Everyone is welcome to work here in the lobby and restaurant, where there is access to free wifi. Bring your laptop to the large communal table illuminated by an eclectic collection of colourful lamps, which has handy power sockets underneath – or to a cosy sofa corner near the fireplace. And, if you need more private space, you can book one of the two meeting rooms, dubbed “ateliers”.

There is coffee and food on-site, served mezze style in the restaurant or bar. For something more wholesome, get some fresh air at nearby Hackney City Farm, where you can sample some locally sourced food, and say hello to the animals!

On weekends, bear in mind that Mama Shelter does get loud and chaotic: there are regular DJ sets and performances in the restaurant and bar, and nights out often start here, or in the private karaoke rooms downstairs.

437 Hackney Road, London, E2 8PP | mamashelter.com

the bold, colourful interior of London's nHow Hotel, a great place for co-working for free

4. nHow Hotel

If you need an energising burst of colour to liven up a dull London day, then head to the nHow hotel lobby. On a quiet street just off City Road, facing the picturesque basin, the hotel is a short walk or bus ride to Angel and Old Street. It is also next to a small, landscaped area with plenty of benches – handy for a restorative breather.

The lobby here is open to anyone, and you can settle in for as long as you need. The quirky and vibrant décor, styled by Shoreditch-based Design studio Project Orange, is complete with fun, giant sculptures, including neon wording and a giant Big Ben rocket. There is a plethora of plush sofas and couches, individual tables, and a long table with plenty of power sockets, too. When I walked in late morning on a Tuesday, the place was quiet, with lots of lovely spots available and upbeat music playing low in the background. (Note: breakfast is set up on the large table, and usually gets cleared around that time.)

There is of course free and fast wifi and the lobby bar serves hot drinks and alcohol.  Should you get peckish, there’s an all-day food menu, as well as a cake trolley! They also offer several meeting rooms, available through a variety of packages, including the handy “workcation” with an overnight stay.

2 Macclesfield Road, London, EC1V 8DG | www.nh-hotels.com

interior of Kingsland Locke - a great hotel for co-working for free in London
Photo: Ed Dabney

5. Kingsland Locke

From the outside, Kingsland Locke looks like any other residential newbuild on Kingsland High Street. That’s intentional: one of six other Locke aparthotels in London, each location is designed to slot right into its surroundings. Equally open to locals, travellers and longer-term guests, these places are part-hotel, part-apartment, part-coworking and socialising hub – allowing guests to be as self-sufficient as they need.

Conveniently located within walking distance to two overground stations and buses to Liverpool Street and Central London, the co-working space at Kingsland Locke is a large area on the ground floor, with its own entrance. The cool minimalist interiors, designed by Shoreditch-based architecture studio Red Deer, are all concrete meets pastels and plants, with metal framing and colourful tile accents – a nod to the market stalls in nearby Ridley Road.

Co-working here is accessible from 8am to 5pm. There is a choice of convenient individual tables and a long communal table, a very cosy teal velvet sofa, and plenty of power sockets – as well as coffee and brunch options from the on-site coffee counter. For something a bit different once your working day is done, book a tour of the Kraft in-house microbrewery in the basement!

As a bonus, most other Locke locations in the capital have dedicated co-working spaces too: Broken Wharf is particularly lovely, with co-working spanning the entire ground floor, and inspiring views of the Thames.

130 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2LQ | lockeliving.com

The Library in The Standard hotel, Kings Cross, where co-working is free.

6. The Standard hotel

Step out of King’s Cross St Pancras station and look for the Routemaster-shaped red lift on the outside of a distinctive brutalist building. This is The Standard hotel, the first location in Europe for the US-based boutique hotel brand.

Once the Camden Council Library, you can work from the den-like Library Lounge on the ground floor, from 7am until 6pm. Shawn Hausman Designs are behind the 1970s cobalt, crimson and ochre retro-chic interior design, where swanky meets kitsch with lots of wood and wool both on the walls and on the floor.

Work surrounded by bookcases, from one of the many squishy sofas, the long wooden table near the outdoor space, or against the backdrop of busy Euston Road from the long leather banquette. If you get peckish, the Double Standard restaurant and bar serves up NYC deli-style staples with a London pub twist – or grab a coffee and some grub from one of the many places on nearby Granary Square or King’s Cross station.

Come 6pm, switch off to a live DJ set or performance from Sound Studio, the in-house recording booth, or head to the rooftop bar to take in the incredible 360 views (note: open from April to October).

10 Argyle Street, London, WC1H 8EG | standardhotels.com

The British Library, London - a free place for co-working

7. The British Library

When I need peace and quiet, the British Library is my go-to. As soon as I walk from hectic and overcrowded King’s Cross station into the bright, soaring central hall of the library, I feel inspired and ready to crack on.

The British Library, now 50 years old, is one of the largest libraries in the world. 1.6 million people visit every year, many of them overseas researchers here to consult the 1.4 million books, stored in more than 746km of underground shelving. Amazingly, the library has a copy of every single publication, from the UK and Ireland!

The building itself is divisive – some love it, some hate it. Architect Colin St John Wilson was formerly in the navy, which explains why it bears resemblance to a ship. Inside, the vast foyer is a large open space filled with natural light, contrasting with the King George III library at its core, an imposing black metal and glass tower home to his collection of leather-bound books.

Working here is an absolute treat. A free Reader Pass will give you access to the 11 Reading rooms, where you will find lofty cushioned chairs, individual reading lamps and multiple power sockets – and a delightfully calm atmosphere. Phones must be on silent, and conversations whispered – if that! There is also no food or drink allowed – so if you need your latte near your laptop, head to the public spaces on every level. I like to bring a thermos and retrieve it from the lockers downstairs when I take regular breaks by the water feature, but there is also a handy selection of cafes and a restaurant to keep you fed and watered.

Be aware, that after the cyber-attack in October 2023, buildings are open as usual, but access to resources and services is still limited (there are regular updates on their website and socials).

96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB | bl.uk

The Reading Room at The Wellcome Collection - a great co-working space for creatives

8. The Wellcome Collection

Just up the road from the British Library is another brilliant place to knuckle down: the Wellcome Collection, housed in a stately 1930s neo-classical building. A free museum and library, the place is run by the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable organisation which funds medical and environmental research, founded with the legacies of pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome.

You could stop at the café on the ground floor, and work from one of the many tables underneath the mesmerising light display by Design Studio Casson Mann – but it does get very loud here, the busier it gets.

Head up the central staircase, and you will find the Reading Room and the Library. Both are delightfully quiet spaces, cosy and welcoming, where you can work surrounded by medical artefacts and rows of books. To access the library, bring proof of ID for a day pass, and you will be rewarded with plenty of snug seating, plug points and excellent wifi. Get in early and nab a two-seater table in between bookshelves, or a space on the countertop tables near the inspiring staircase paintings.

The award-winning Reading Room, on the same floor, is an absolute delight. This is a spacious and bright double-height gallery, painted white with contrasting raspberry and turquoise soft furnishings, bespoke bronze fittings and copper-tinted lighting. Designed by London-based architects and designers AOC to be a socially interactive space, visitors are actively encouraged to explore and manipulate the collections. There is seating aplenty from which to read or contemplate, in the form of giant cushy beanbags, armchairs and tables. No plug points here though, so make sure to charge up before you head out!

If you need a break, make sure to catch an excellent free exhibition in the gallery – themes explore health and the human experience.

183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE | wellcomecollection.org

The interior of the Ruby Lucy hotel in London, where freelancers can work for free in the lobby

9. Ruby Lucy

One of two Ruby hotels in London, Ruby Lucy just recently opened on the South Bank, a few minutes’ walk from Waterloo station. The old-world fairground meets carnival interior design, bursting with mismatched furniture, velvet armchairs in rich jewel tones and warm copper accents, drew me in from afar one rainy afternoon as I was passing by.

The Ruby group, with hotels sprinkled throughout Europe, brings affordable ‘lean luxury’ to its guests – meaning comfortable hotels with luxurious amenities, each with its own cachet, streamlined with sustainability in mind. (Having stayed in the Ruby Emma in Amsterdam, I can confirm that comfort here is outstanding!)

Catering to increasingly decentralised ways of working, the group also offers comfortable workspaces full of character in a few of its hotels, with a range of membership options. No membership here in London – but freelancers are welcome to work in the lobby, where there is reliable wifi free of charge, and plenty of power sockets.

The café serves food throughout the day from 7am to 10pm for outside guests – and if nothing here suits, historic Borough market, with its incredible range of food options, is on the doorstep.

100-108 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7AB |ruby-hotels.com

Inside the SOuthbank Centre in London - a great place for free co-working
Photo: Adam Luszniak

10. The Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre, is, indisputably, a firm freelancer favourite. This is the UK’s largest arts centre, an 11-acre site on the banks of the Thames, comprised of three main performance venues – the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery – each with its own share of restaurants, cafes, and public spaces. With so much to choose from, there really is space for everyone.

The public spaces in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, refurbished a few years ago by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, are pleasantly bigger and better. Bold geometric accents break up the space, complementing the concrete Brutalist architecture: natural light comes streaming through pyramid-shaped rooflights in a higher ceiling; by the large bay windows facing the Thames, an imposing brass countertop catches the light from the round copper hanging lamps and provides plenty of plug points.

There is wifi throughout the centre – even, I was surprised to find, on the hidden rooftop garden of the Queen Elizabeth Hall! With sunnier days approaching, what better place to work than in the shade of leafy birch and fruit trees, rewarded by 360 panoramic views?

And if you really can’t find a suitable spot here (which seems improbable), head downstream to the nearby National Theatre or the BFI, where there are also plenty of options.

Note: there is currently refurbishment work going on in the Royal Festival Hall Level 2 foyer spaces – More info here. Also this is a cashless venue.

Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | southbankcentre.co.uk

interior of Citizen M hotel in London's Victoria - a free place for co-working11. Citizen M Victoria

Like Ruby, Citizen M hotels are all about bringing stylish ‘affordable luxury’ to international city centres for modern travellers. Each hotel has a bold and distinctive style, curated to look like a contemporary art gallery you can work, sleep and network in.

Citizen M Victoria, one of four hotels in London, is within walking distance from the station on Vauxhall Bridge Road. It is impossible to miss, with colourful artwork covering the entire façade of its 1960s building.

The entire ground floor is a lobby / bar / hot-desking area, with bold primary colour accents punctuating the sleek and bright space flooded in natural light. With furniture by Vitra, there are plenty of comfy seating options to be found, including a distinctive custom-built wavy bench the length of an entire wall, individual tables, and inviting large sofas.

My favourite spot is perched on a stool around ‘canteenM’, the all-day café in the centre of the space. It has power sockets all around the raised countertop, and a handy selection of barista-brewed coffee, drinks, and food.

The free wifi is superfast, and if you need an inspiring break, you are free to leaf through any of the coffee table books around!

292 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 1AE | citizenm.com

Host Cafe in London, a great place for coworking

12. Host Café

Host Café is something else. Set inside St Mary Aldermary church, which sits unassumingly at the junction of Bow Lane and Watling Street, this is truly ‘where coffee is a spiritual experience’! A gothic gem, the church was rebuilt in the late 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren (of St Paul’s Cathedral and Royal Navy College fame) after suffering extensive damage during the 1666 Great Fire of London.

The café itself, open since 2012, is ethically run (read about it here) and supported by the Moot community, which also organises group meditations and prayers in the church, outside of café opening hours (7.30am to 4pm).

Pop in for a quick cuppa or moment of quiet contemplation: the setting itself, with its stunning fan-vaulted ceiling and soaring spaces, is well worth the detour. To work here for longer than 1.5 hours, the café asks that you book a space on their website here. For 4 hours, the cost is £10 which does include a hot drink – and you will be able to work away, undisturbed, at a reserved table. There are comfy sofas, several individual tables, as well as a long table with power sockets nearby – and you can also sit in the pews to read or eat your lunch (note: only food from inside the venue can be consumed inside).

If all this wasn’t enough, the café is also dog-friendly!

Watling Street, London, EC4M 9BW | hostcafelondon.com

inteiror of Tribe, a hotel offering free co-working space
Photo: Stephan Lucius Lemke

13. Tribe

Tribe brings a breath of fresh open-space energy to Canary Wharf, where bland copy-paste business hotels seem to be the norm. Thanks to the Elizabeth Line, the area is quickly becoming more than just skyscrapers and work, offering a host of things to see, do and taste – well worth the trip if you’re after something a bit different.

Located minutes from the DLR, Crossrail and tube stations, Tribe is easy to get to. The hotel is part of the Ennismore hospitality group, known for their ‘lifestyle brands rooted in culture and community’ the likes of Mama Shelter and The Hoxton, where guest experience is paramount. A prime example of this, the 24 hour ‘Social Hub’ on the ground floor is open to guests and non-guests alike for working, socialising and relaxing.

The chic, laid-back décor is crafted by the Ennismore Design Studio (now rebranded as AIME Studio), responsible for 22 other properties across 12 different brands. The space is infused with shades of rust, blue grey and sage green, anchored by furniture in round, organic shapes. There are plenty of spots to choose from, including rows of individual bistrot-style tables, as well as plush armchairs to sink into.

Work facing the windows, basking in the soft natural light, and grab a coffee, fresh meal or snack from the Grab & Co counter, open 24 hours, at the centre of the space. Laptop on full charge? Work al fresco on the terrace, weather permitting, and tuck into some crowd-pleasing Cali-inspired fare from their restaurant, Feels Like June.

If you need a break, wander into the lush roof garden at Crossrail Place, a calming green oasis – free entry, and open until 9pm.

15 Water Street, London, E14 9QG | tribehotels.com

The Royal Opera House, where you will find numerous areas for free hot desking
Photo: Charlie McKay

14. The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House might not spring to mind when thinking about where to hot desk – and that’s a shame. Right in the middle of vibrant Theatreland, it houses several elegant spots to work from, which all combine a great view, access to in-house food and drink, and that exciting pre-theatre buzz.

It has been five years now since the massive refurbishment by Stanton Williams Architects, which dramatically ‘opened up’ the historic opera and ballet venue, both literally and figuratively (“Open Up” was the official name of the three-year, £50.7m transformation project). Today anyone, with or without a ticket, can come in and enjoy a drink or a meal – and not just during performances.

Grab a great spot when the doors open to the public at 12pm, any day of the week. There is no need to book in the Ground floor Café, the Level 5 bar or the Piazza Terrace bar – and all spaces have access to free wifi, as well as a few power sockets here and there.

Fine materials like polished plaster, walnut wood or stainless steel make all the spaces feel bright, spacious and soothing. I have a soft spot for the Terrace, where it’s impossible not to feel elevated peering through the large bay windows onto the charming, cobbled Piazza – or the Level 5 bar, where the hole-in-the-wall view onto the stunning Paul Hamlyn Hall (originally known as the Floral Hall) is equally awe-inspiring.

Note: this is a cashless venue.

Bow Street, London, WC2E 9DD | roh.org.uk

Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden - a great place for a short stint of work or a meeting

15. Petersham Wine Bar & Deli

The Petersham Wine Bar & Deli is a quaint little place, nestled on the corner of King Street and Floral court in Covent Garden. I remember stumbling across the flagship Petersham Nurseries in Richmond a decade ago and feeling like I had stepped into an enchanted garden! The Deli feels like the greenhouse version of the South-West London venue, retaining much of the original charm and authenticity.

This one doesn’t encourage you to hang around on your laptop for more than an hour or so – but the space, kitted out in earthy tones, terracotta, wood and wrought iron, with plants dotted throughout, is just perfect for a relaxing break or meeting, away from the touristy hustle and bustle.

I spotted one set of power sockets towards the back, and there is of course free wifi.

No coffee here however, but a curated selection of organic tea, cold pressed juice and pastries – as well as nibbles and finger food. Come cocktail hour, you might also want to test their new card-operated wine machine!

31 King Street, London, WC2E 9DS | thepetershamwinebar.com

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