Spark Spots: Inspirational Places to Work
Save to Collections
There's a whole band of nomads out there in London trying to find a suitable spot to work in. And whilst cafes certainly do the job, sometimes you need a special environment to provoke those elusive sparks of genius. Or, equally as important, to give the impression that you're doing something super creative. Here are a selection of places to work in which are free (minus occasional coffee costs) including some beautiful libraries, creative cultural centres, tranquil bookshops and, of course, hotel lobbies.
Tucked away near Liverpool Street Station, this beautiful little library is the kind of place that's easily walked past. A welcome respite to the charged chaos outside, it has two rooms to work in which are quiet and spacious; it also comes with an ornate stained glass skylight. Magical. Not that many plug sockets though, so you might have to wrestle.
Tube: Liverpool Street
Hours: Monday – Friday: 10am-5.30pm.
The iconic British Library might be a pretty obvious choice, but sometimes obvious things are good - like gender equality. The 11 reading rooms get full pretty darn quickly but there are plenty of other spaces to work in and take advantage of the hushed sounds, the calming architecture and any literary treasures you fancy perusing. You need to register for a reader's pass the first time you go.
Tube: King's Cross
Hours: Monday – Thursday 9.30am-8pm; Friday 9.30am-6pm; Saturday 9.30am-5pm; Sunday 11am-5pm
The National Art Library at V&A
Whilst the glorious V&A Cafe often gets plenty of attention, their National Art Library is a pretty ideal working spot. It's the kind of library all libraries want to be: a Grade II listed building with plenty of light, that authentic old book smell and traditional wooden workspaces. It's quiet — unless it's dissertation time — and you can also wonder around the spaces of the V&A when you hit that wall.
Tube: South Kensington
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 10am-17.30pm; Friday : 10am-18.30pm; Saturday: 10am-17.30pm
Wellcome Collection Library
We're big fans of the Wellcome Collection. Not only is it full of free super interesting science exhibitions about the body and mind, it also has a strange and spacious library perfect for coaxing out a little thought. After a fairly recent refurb, there is plenty of quirky furniture, medical books and scientific oddities to keep you entertained. Find yourself an alcove with some natural light and get to business.
Hours: Monday–Wednesday, Friday : 10am-6pm; Thursday: 10am-8pm; Saturday: 10am-4pm
Europe's largest performing arts centre has got plenty of spaces to get a work on within its vast concrete walls. You could bop into the library and take advantage of the study spaces; you could cross the road and take a seat in the cosy surroundings of the Barbican Cinema Cafe; you could just drop your stuff anywhere you find a table and chair. It's free to work here and open until late. The Barbican conservatory also provides some welcome greenery if you need a break from the concrete.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9am-11pm; Sunday: 11am-11pm
If you need to come up with some fresh ideas, then we'd strongly recommend making an outing to the new Design Museum. You can work in either the cafe or the special library and archive, and the building itself — an £83 million conversion of the former Commonwealth building — is well worth a tour. Also, be sure to check their free permanent exhibition Designer Maker User, which is like a Science Museum for adults. The kind of inspiration that's almost certainly going to result in the best work you've ever done.
Tube: High Street Kensington
Hours: Monday—Sunday: 10am-6pm
With its vast open spaces, plenty of light, numerous cafes and views of the Thames, The Southbank Centre has plenty going for it. It's certainly not the quietest of places but perhaps that general conversational hubbub is the kind of background noise you need to focus — have you ever even thought of that? There are a couple of libraries on site and you should find space here without too many problems.
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10am-11pm
Whilst any cafe in central London might do the job, Foyles definitely sets itself apart. That's mainly because it's located on top of a huge 5 floor bookshop which has, by our unscientific reckoning, every book ever written. There are some perfectly suitable shared workbenches to work on with views of the gallery below. Good food and good coffee is also good.
Tube: Tottenham Court Station
Hours: Monday-Friday 9.30am-9pm; Sunday 11.30am-6pm
Alright alright, not everyone is going to find sitting in the lobby of the Ace Hotel that inspiring but we're including this place because when you're in there, slaving away along with loads of other similar sorts you might just feel part of a wave of creativity and all that. It's free, you can stay as long as you want and come any time you want. Often very busy, but those who get a seat cherish it.
Tube: Shoreditch High Street
Hours: Open 24h a day
Hoxton, Holborn Hotel
Just like Ace Hotel and a bunch of other hotels offering the lobby/workspace thing, Holborn Hotel could be labelled an inspiring place due to the variety of characters you get filling the space, doing their shit and churning it out. You could be sitting next to the next Steve Jobs, the next Steve Austin, the next Steve Seagal. That's inspiration if ever we saw it.
Hours: 24h a day