19 quiet London coffee shops and cafès that culture-vultures will love

There’s nothing quite like relaxing in a quiet coffee shop with a book, the papers or your trusty laptop, is there?

To me this is one of life’s great pleasures, but it can be hard to find a decent (let alone quiet) coffee shop or cafè in London in which do this.

So I’ve selflessly been spending the last few weeks drinking copious amounts of tea to unearth some of the best hidden gems in or around central London. Purely for research purposes, you understand…

Is your favourite hidden gem on the list? I’d love to know what you think. Let me know in the comments or drop me a message

The Foundling Museum Cafè, Bloomsbury

The Foundling Museum Cafe © The Foundling Museum
Image: © The Foundling Museum

This inspiring cafè on the side of the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury is pretty under-the-radar.

But you can’t help but be creative in this peaceful space, surrounded by a specially-commissioned mural by poet Lemn Sissay MBE, which ties the cafè with its museum’s theme of orphans and childhood nicely.

Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-5pm; Sunday 11am-5pm

Nearest Tube: Euston Square / Russell Square

More information: Visit the Foundling Museum website here or read my review of the museum

The Photographers Gallery Café, Soho

Coffee and cake at the Photographers Gallery, Soho, London
Image: A Peace of London

This arty and very central cafè has beautiful food from a specialist baker (pictured above is the mini salted caramel cake I treated myself to) and a chilled-out, social atmosphere.

The staff are really friendly,  and there’s free wifi, too. All profits from the cafè go towards their programme of events and exhibitions.

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 9.30am-6pm; Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 11.30am-6pm

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

Address: 16-18 Ramillies Street, Soho, London W1F 7LW

More information: Visit The Photographers’ Gallery website here

Park Life Cafè, Burgess Park

Chumleigh Gardens Cafe, Walworth, London
Image: A Peace of London

For decent food, beautiful gardens and a park next door, plus a mug of tea for £1, head to Park Life Cafè next to Chumleigh Gardens in Burgess Park, Southwark.

It’s clear that the locals love this place and you can see why. It’s easy to feel at home here and the staff are really friendly.

Before or after your cuppa, head through the gate to the right of the cafè to see the beautiful Chumleigh Gardens (including the multicultural garden — a secret garden within the secret garden…) or head left for a stroll through Burgess Park.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday 10am-5pm

Nearest Tube: Elephant and Castle

Address: Burgess Park, 3 Chumleigh St, London SE5 0RJ

More information: Visit the Park Life Cafè website

Host Café, City of London

Host Cafè at St Mary Aldermary church, London
Image: A Peace of London

Can you believe that you can sit under this and have coffee?

Not only is Host Cafè set in the stunning St Mary Aldermary church, it also opens at 7.15am and has free wifi. Their teas and coffees are from independent producers, their pastries are brought in on a bicycle.

For lunch, there are organic soups or homemade pates on offer, or you can bring a packed lunch with you. Can this place get any more charming? I don’t think so.

Opening times: Monday to Friday: 7.15am-4.45 pm (until 4.30pm on Monday and Friday)

Nearest Tube: Mansion House

More information: Read my review here or visit the Host Cafè website

Calthorpe Project Garden Cafè, King’s Cross

Calthorpe Project Cafe, King's Cross
Image: A Peace of London

The organic veg served at this meat-free cafè in King’s Cross doesn’t have to travel very far to your plate — in fact, it’s grown just a few feet away in The Calthorpe Project garden.

Even the coffee is homemade and proceeds help support the project’s mission to support the physical and emotional well-being of local people.

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm

Nearest Tube: King’s Cross

More information: Visit the Calthorpe Project website

The Old Dairy at Vauxhall City Farm

The Old Dairy at Vauxhall City Farm, London
Image: A Peace of London

There’s nothing ‘old’ about this light and spacious cafè at one of the nicest city farms in London.

There’s free wifi on offer as well as a great selection of cakes and lunches. Proceeds from the cafè help to fund their work with disadvantaged young people.

And if you fancy some fresh air, the farm is free to visit!

Opening times: Monday: 11am-2:00pm; Tuesday to Sunday: 10:30am-4pm

Nearest Tube: Vauxhall

More information: Visit the Vauxhall City Farm website here

Thackeray’s Coffee House, Clerkenwell

Thackeray's Cafe at the Charterhouse, Clerkenwell, London
Image: A Peace of London

The coffee house of the Charterhouse in Clerkenwell is one of the lightest, brightest and spacious that I’ve been into. The food is delicious and there’s free wifi on offer, as well as lots of natural daylight.

Plus, there’s a free museum to wander around next door, a lovely green space outside and lots of other gems within walking distance. What more could you want?

Opening times: Monday to Friday: 8.30am-5pm; Saturday: 10.30am-5pm

Nearest Tube: Farringdon

More information: visit the Charterhouse website here

Djanogly Cafè at Tate Britain, Pimlico

Djanogly Cafè at Tate Britain, London
Image: A Peace of London

Tate Britain’s cafè is as cool and slick as you’d expect for London’s most famous art gallery.

They roast their own coffee beans on site and they focus on regional produce for their drinks: the soda is from Hackney, the cola is from Northumberland and the apple juice is pressed on a Gloucestershire farm.

Opening times: Daily, 10am-6pm

Nearest Tube: Pimlico

More information: Visit the Tate website here

Café in the Crypt, Trafalgar Square

Café in the Crypt, St Martin in the Fields, London
Picture credit: Jops on Flickr

Take a few moments to look around you at the second church café on our list — an 18th-century brick-vaulted ceiling awaits above your head and tombstones line the floor beneath your feet.

Back on the tables, you’ll have a choice of home-made hot meals as well as teas, coffees and cakes at great value for café that’s smack-bang in tourist central. Go early in the day to beat the lunch and dinner rush, and bear in mind they have live music on Wednesday nights.

Opening times: Monday and Tuesday: 8am-8pm; Wednesday: 8am-6.30pm; Thursday-Saturday: 8am-9pm; Sunday: 11am-6pm

Nearest Tube: Charing Cross

More information: Visit the St Martin in the Fields website here

Cafè Caritas at 30 Euston Square

Cafe Caritas at the Royal College of GPs in Euston, London
Image: A Peace of London

You might struggle to find anyone else who knows about this café in the Grade II-listed headquarters of the Royal College of GPs in Euston.

The building and security guards at the front door look very imposing at first, but get past that and you’ll be rewarded with an airy space with plenty of natural light and free wifi.

The prices are reasonable and there is some good people-watching to be done as the staff at the college go about their doctor-y business.

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm

Nearest Tube: Euston / Euston Square / King’s Cross

More information: Visit the 30 Euston Square website here

George’s Cafè, Holborn

George's Church and cafe, Bloomsbury
Image: A Peace of London

Eat, drink and reset your mind in the church where Sylvia Plath married Ted Hughes in 1956.

The church is newer than some of the other churches on this list, but has its own unique charm and the cafè stretches right around the aisles, making it a very spacious place to spend a few hours.

There’s also free wifi available, and it’s got some of the longest (and earliest) opening hours on this list.

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 7am-7pm; 9am-3pm on Saturday

Nearest Tube: Russell Square

More information: Visit the St George’s Holborn website

The Ragged Canteen, Vauxhall

Beaconsfield Gallery, Vauxhall, London
Image: A Peace of London

I found this place by accident on a walking tour of Vauxhall, and instantly fell in love.

Not only is it on the side of the independent Beaconsfield art gallery, it also serves great coffee and ethically sourced and seasonal vegetarian comfort food in a retro and spacious location (with free wifi).

If you fancy a wander around the building, there is progressive art available to view for free and magazines/newspapers if you forget your book.

Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-5pm

Nearest Tube: Vauxhall

More information: Visit the Beaconsfield gallery website here

Curzon, Bloomsbury

Curzon Bloomsbury
Image: A Peace of London

Tucked away behind The Brunswick Centre is this arthouse cinema with a long history and a chilled bar that doubles as a coffee shop during the day.

Perfect for grabbing a coffee and people watching.

Nearest Tube: Russell Square

More information: Visit the Curzon website

Charles Dickens Museum Garden Cafè, Bloomsbury

Charles Dickens Museum Cafe, Bloomsbury, London
Image: A Peace of London

This little spot in the extension at 48 Doughty Street (the former London home of the author and his family) is inspired by the house itself and — fittingly — perfect for writers and readers.

There is free wifi available and a wide selection of special teas, as well as a whole side table full of huge cakes. Everything from the furniture to the sugar pots is inspired by a Victorian home.

Of course, my favourite part is the reading chair in the corner…

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-4:30pm

Nearest Tube: Russell Square

More information: Visit the Charles Dickens Museum website here

Stanford’s Coffee Shop, Covent Garden

Stanford's Coffee House, Leicester Square, London
Image: A Peace of London

Leicester Square might not be the first place you’d head to get a break from touristy London, but Stanford’s Coffee (in the bookshop of the same name) is the perfect place.

They stock a wide selection of London travel books and there’s free wifi, too — so you can research your next exploration while you’re there.

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 8am-7.30pm; Saturday 9am-7.30pm; Sunday 11.30am-5.30pm

Nearest Tube: Leicester Square

Address: 27A Floral Street, London WC2E 9EZ

More information: Visit the Stanford’s website here

Café Below, City of London

St Mary-le-Bow church, London
Image: A Peace of London

If the idea of having tea in the actual church at Host Cafè doesn’t appeal (see above), try Cafè Below just up the road at St Mary-le-Bow, which is hidden away in the crypt.

The crypt is much altered from when the church was built in 1080, but it’s easy to imagine its original use from the old brickwork and the traditional restored ceiling.

Fun fact: the bells at St Mary-le-Bow Church have rung at 9pm every day since at least 1363, and if you were born in an area where you can hear Bow Bells, you’re officially a Cockney.

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 7.30am-2.30pm

Nearest Tube: Mansion House

Address: St Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside, London EC2V 6AU

More information: Visit the Cafè Below website here

The Refectory at Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral, London
Picture credit: Matt Brown / Flickr

The cafè on the side of Southwark Cathedral is a little hideaway from the touristy areas of London Bridge and Borough at the weekend.

During the winter you can relax in the clean and airy cafè and in the warm weather, they serve food and drinks in the courtyard.

Nearest Tube: London Bridge

Address: Montague Close, London SE1 9DA

More information: Visit the Southwark Cathedral website here

Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Borough

Mouse Tail Coffee Stories cafe, London
Image: A Peace of London

This little chain of coffee shops has branches around London, but I have a soft spot for the one at John Harvard Library in Borough, simply because it’s in a library.

Besides some good coffee (which is the same price, no matter what size you get), they also serve fresh juices, delicious vegetarian/vegan food and some pretty mean cakes.

While you drink, you can browse shelves-upon-shelves of magazines for free, or pull up one of the chairs and make use of the free wifi.

Opening times: Mondays and Thursdays, 10am-7pm; Tuesday and Fridays, 10am-5pm; Saturdays, 10am-3pm

Nearest Tube: Borough / London Bridge

Address: John Harvard Library, St Dunstans House, 211 Borough High St, London SE1 1JA

More information: Visit the Mouse Tail Coffee website here

William Morris Gallery tea room, Walthamstow

Cream tea at William Morris Gallery, London
Image: A Peace of London

A little bit farther out than most of the other cafès on this list, the tea room at William Morris’ childhood home is bathed in daylight and has lovely gardens attached to it if you fancy eating in the fresh air.

They serve lovely afternoon teas, fresh food from local producers and some of the biggest scones I’ve ever seen.

Once you’ve finished eating your way through that, make sure you check out the gallery itself, which is free and gives a fantastic insight into his life and work.

Opening times:  Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-4.30pm

Nearest Tube: Walthamstow Central

Address: Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 4PP

More information: Visit the William Morris Gallery website here

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Host Café at St Mary Aldermary church, City of London

For those of us who crave a moment’s peace and a coffee in the morning — or at any time of a weekday — I think I might have found the perfect place…

I found Host Café  and St Mary Aldermary church a couple of weeks ago. I was unable to get out and explore at the weekend, so I got on a train into London at 6.45am to go and explore on a Monday morning instead.

Here’s how I got on…

St Mary Aldermary church, City of London
Image: A Peace of London

The café is situated at one end of the church, which is not only a great use of the space but also gives you a great view of the magnificent church ceiling from your breakfast table.

St Mary Aldermary church, City of London
Image: A Peace of London

Sitting in this wonderful space for an hour before work gave me the energy and motivation I needed to start another week.

There are also two huge stained glass windows at either end of the church, and a little part of history to see in every corner — from memorial plaques to parts of the church itself.

Host Cafe at St Mary Aldermary church, City of London
Image: A Peace of London

St Mary Aldermary church is just across the road from Mansion House station and the café opens at 7.15am, which made it a perfect stop for breakfast before work on an otherwise hectic morning.

If you want another excuse to visit, they hold lunchtime or evening meditation sessions three times a week.

St Mary Aldermary church, City of London
Image: A Peace of London

Host Café and St Mary Aldermary church: the essentials

Address: Watling Street, London EC4M 9BW

Opening times: 7.30am-4.45pm Monday-Friday (until 4.30pm on Mondays and Fridays)

Nearest Tube: Mansion House

More information: Visit the café website

7 great places to drink rooibos tea in London

Seeing as I’m such a sensitive and gentle soul, if I drink too much caffeine I go a bit nuts. So when I’m out and about in London, I rely on tea rooms and coffee shops to serve me a good cup of caffeine-free rooibos tea (also known as red bush).

Unlike decaffeinated tea, rooibos is naturally caffeine-free. I also have it on good authority that you can’t over-brew it, so there’s no chance of that horrible bitter taste of leaves that have been left in the pot too long. Whatsmore, it’s naturally sweet (so requires less artery-clogging sugar if you have a sweet tooth like me) and it’s versatile: it comes in lots of different flavours so you’re sure to find your own perfect blend wherever you are.

Unfortunately, though, a cup of rooibos tea in London sometimes seems as rare as a yeti on the Tube. So I scoured the coffee shops and tea houses of London to find a few great places to get your redbush fix…

1. Piacha, Islington

Piacha Tea Room, Islington, London
Image: A Peace of London

This little tea room in Upper Street, Islington, was created by owner Pia out of her own search for a decent takeaway cup of tea. They serve three flavours of rooibos; my favourites is the Rhubarb Fudge flavour. They also do tea smoothies! Take a look at their full menu here.

Opening times: Monday – Friday 9am-9pm; Saturday – Sunday 10am-9pm

Nearest Tube: Highbury & Islington / Angel

More information: piacha.co.uk or read my review here

2. Yumchaa, Soho

yumchaa tea soho
Image: Yumchaa

With their range of flavours of rooibos teas, divine caramel shortbread, late opening hours, free wifi, and a branch smack-bang in the middle of Soho, it’s a wonder I’m not in Yumchaa every day. Add to that their lovely downstairs seating area that has a hint of someone’s front room about it, and it’s enough to make me disappointed that I don’t work in Oxford Circus. Such is life.

Opening times: Monday – Friday 8am-8pm; Saturday 10:30am-8pm; Sunday 11am-8pm

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road (Soho branch)

More information: yumchaa.com or read my review here

3. Urban Tea Rooms, Soho

Urban Tea Rooms, Soho, London
Image: Urban Tea Rooms

Thanks to its delicious lunches, this tea room in Kingly Street can get a bit busy upstairs, but head down to their basement for a good cuppa, decent wifi, and a massive slice of cake. I’m told their salads are pretty good, too.

Opening hours: Monday 7.30am-5.30pm; Tuesday 7.30 am-10.30pm; Wednesday and Thursday 7.30am-11.30pm; Friday: 7.30am-12pm; Saturday: 10am-12pm; Sunday: 12pm-7pm

Nearest Tube: Soho

More information: Urban Tea Rooms website

4. Coffee Geek and Friends, Victoria

Coffee Geek and Friends, Victoria, London
Image: Coffee Geek and Friends

Free (and fast) wifi, great food (I recommend the halloumi and pesto wrap) and one of the most interesting “as standard” rooibos teas on our list: their Spicy Rooibos comes with brazilian red pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and a hint of orange.

Plus they do great coffee, if you want to live dangerously and treat yourself to some caffeine.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday 7am-5pm; Saturday: 9am-5pm; Sunday 9am-3pm

Nearest Tube: Victoria

More information: coffeegeekandfriends.co.uk

5. Amanzi Tea, Marylebone

Amanzi Tea, Soho, London
Image: A Peace of London

Oh my goodness, this place is a dream… four different types of rooibos teas, big slices of healthy snacks, free wifi, and a great location just off the main streets of Marylebone. The teas are all loose-leaf and brewed to perfection before they’re served, and I love the atmosphere of this cool, relaxed, and stylish tea house; the upstairs is clean and sleek, whereas the downstairs area is homeley and productive.

Opening times: Monday–Friday 7.30am-7pm; Saturday 10am-7pm; Sunday 10am-6pm

Nearest Tube: Bond Street

More information: amanzitea.com

6. Bloomsbury Coffee House

Bloomsbury Coffee House, London
Picture credit: duncan c on Flickr

Regular readers will know I adore Bloomsbury Coffee House. Their rooibos tea is called Winter Spice and it’s lovely with their honey granola, plus they have free wifi and they’re just round the corner from what is possibly the quietest bookshop in central London and a free museum about ancient Egyptians.

Opening hours: Monday – Friday 8am-6pm; Saturday – Sunday and Bank Holidays 8am-1.30pm

Nearest Tube: Russell Square

More information: bloomsburycoffeehouse.co.uk

7. Good & Proper Tea, Old Street

Good and Proper Tea, London
Image: A Peace of London

I first found Good & Proper Tea at Brockley Market, and it was only a couple of days later that I travelled all the way to their tea bar in Old Street to experience their lovely tea and delicious salty crumpets. It’s all brewed properly, too, and the service is top-notch. One to watch…

Opening times: Monday – Friday 8am-6pm; Saturday 10am-4pm

Nearest Tube: Old Street

More information: goodandpropertea.com
 

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The Hoxton Hotel, Holborn: write, eat (and sleep) day or night

There are many things I like about Holborn: the brilliant City Lit evening courses, the long escalator at the Tube station, its proximity to The Hunterian Museum, and now… somewhere to write after-hours.

I’ve been looking for somewhere like The Hoxton for months… somewhere convenient to go after work and not have to leave after an hour because they’re mopping the floor get me out. Somewhere to go for drinks without having to stand in a packed bar and awkwardly act like it’s normal to shout at each other.

Somewhere I can go with my laptop in the evening and not feel like I’m the only person in the world who isn’t drinking cocktails. Somewhere cool that doesn’t take itself too seriously, where the staff will leave me alone with their free wifi after I’ve bought a cup of tea… You get the idea.

Tonight I found that place, and it’s a two-minute walk away from said escalator at said Tube station. The Hoxton is a sleek hotel in the centre of town with a lovely bar downstairs. Grab a tea or coffee (or a smoothie) from the coffee bar, grab a drink from the actual bar: it’s up to you, and they’ll give you great table service at the same time, on a tab if you like. It gets quite busy straight after work, but if you don’t mind a bit of white noise then it’s the perfect place to sit and write for a few hours; it quietens down again during the day though, or after about 8ish in the evening.

The wifi is surprisingly fast for such a big place, and there are no annoying sign-in forms or passwords to get through before you can use it. Just order something and you’re good to go.

Oh, and they have beds, too…

Nearest Tube: Holborn

More information: The Hoxton website

Featured image by Henrik Löwenhamn on Flickr

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Yumchaa Tea Shop, Soho: the place for ‘tasty tea’ (and cake)

After a long day of exploring London’s best peaceful spots, what you really need is a cup of tea in… a peaceful spot. And nestled in Berwick Street, Soho, there’s a perfect place.

Yumchaa means ‘drink tea’ in Cantonese, or ‘tasty tea’ in English slang. And they don’t disappoint: enter the shop to be greeted by tea flavours galore, from burnt toffee caramel black tea, through lemon sherbet roobios, to mint white teas, and chilli hot chocolate thrown in there, too.

Continue reading “Yumchaa Tea Shop, Soho: the place for ‘tasty tea’ (and cake)”

Piacha Tea Bar, Islington: An imaginative blend

You don’t have to go far to find a coffee shop in London (even a peaceful one). But a tea shop? Now that’s something special. Which is why I paid a visit to Piacha Tea Bar in Islington this week.

This tea bar and shop in Upper Street is a haven for tea drinkers. Their USP is tea done right — ‘unapologetically good tea’ as they put it — and owner Pia has an intimate knowledge of tea blends and brewing methods.

Continue reading “Piacha Tea Bar, Islington: An imaginative blend”

14 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

Bishopsgate Institute, London
Image: slocumjoseph / Flickr

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 Wren

The Wren coffee shop at St Nicks Cole Abbey, City of London
Image: A Peace of London

The Wren at St Nicks Cole Abbey is one of the lovely church cafés in the City of London and, alongside Host Café at St Mary Aldermary, is one of the best.

Drinking coffee and writing on your laptop in a church might seem a little odd at first, but personally, I think it’s a fantastic use of the space and a great way for the churches to pay for the maintenance of their centuries-old buildings.

I’d recommend you give it a try: they are lovely spaces to write in and the two mentioned above are open very early in the morning, so you can get an hour’s worth of writing in before work.

Trust me, it beats breakfast at a fancy hotel hands-down…

Nearest Tube: Mansion House

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 7am-4.30pm (closed 1pm-2pm on Thursdays)

Address: 114 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BJ

More information: Visit The Wren website

RHS Lindley Library

RHS Lindley Library, Pimlico, London
Image: A Peace of London

Travel to Vincent Square in the depths of Pimlico and you’ll find the headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society and their little-known (but very quiet) library. Remarkably, the library is free for anyone to use and you don’t even have to be a member.

There are a few good writing desks and free wifi, as well as lots of reading material if you need a break. Not many people know about this place, so it’s surprisingly quiet, and the staff are very nice, too — I’d highly recommend it.

Nearest Tube: Pimlico

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm

Address: 80 Vincent Square, London SW1P 2PE

More information: Visit the RHS website here

John Harvard Library and Mouse Tail Coffee

Mouse Tail Coffee Stories cafe, London
Image: A Peace of London

If you can’t decide whether you want to write in a lovely library or drink coffee while you work, then you’re in luck… yes, Mouse Tail Coffee is a coffee shop in a library.

And this little coffee shop on the side of John Harvard Library takes its coffee very seriously; the mouse tail name refers to the ideal shape of the stream of espresso, which should be fine and continuous.

The staff aren’t serious though — they’re actually very nice and also serve good tea, food and cake. If you’re not in the mood for refreshment, you can use the library instead, but the free wifi is provided by the coffee shop.

Nearest Tube: Borough

Library opening times: Monday-Friday, 9am-7pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday 12pm-4pm

Address: 211 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1JA

More information: Visit the Mouse Tail Coffee website or Southwark Libraries

V&A National Art Library

National Art Library at the V&A, London
Image: pml2008 on Flickr

Tucked away in one of the most popular museums in London is a quiet spot to that many Londoners miss.

It’s a bit more of a hassle to visit than many of the other coffee shops on this list, but you’ll be writing in one of the most inspirational places in London and it’s free, so I think it’s worth it.

To use the library, you’ll need to join. This is free, but make sure you take current ID and proof of address (read instructions here) with you. You’ll also need to check your bags into the cloakroom downstairs — you’ll be given a clear plastic bag for your laptop/notepads and remember to take a pencil, as pens aren’t allowed.

Nearest Tube: South Kensington

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5.30pm (until 6.30pm on Fridays)

Address: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

More information: Visit the V&A website here

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!)

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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

Black Sheep Coffee

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This small chain of coffee shops has branches all over the City of London, but my favourite is the one in EastCheap.

Like all coffee shops, there is a lot going on here but the staff are super-friendly and it’s perfect if you like some background noise while you write.

I especially love the character of the place — the wall behind the counter is decorated with a funky mural and it’s completely devoid of pretence.

Nearest Tube: Tower Hill / Cannon Street

Opening times: Monday – Friday, 7am – 5pm

Address: 31 Eastcheap, London, EC3M 1DE

More information: Visit the Black Sheep Coffee website

The Barbican Centre

Barbican Centre, Central London
Image: .Martin. on Flickr

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: barbican.org.uk

Bloomsbury Coffee House

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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: bloomsburycoffeehouse.co.uk

Pancras Square Library

Pancras Square Library, London
Credit: www.camden.gov.uk

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

The British Library, London
Picture credit: Paul Hudson 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: bl.uk

The Southbank Centre

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London
Image: Aurelien Guichard on Flickr

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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