If ever there was a place set up for bloggers and freelancers to sit and write for hours on end, then Barbican Cinema Cafe is it. There are few places in central London where you can pretty much guarantee a good cup of tea, a quiet spot to write in and some lovely food – all on a weekend. But this is one of those rarities.
As close to Barbican Tube as you can possibly get while still being within the Barbican, the cinema cafe is open from 8am Monday-Friday and from 10am at weekends. Their tomato soup is heaven in a bowl (just writing it makes my mouth water) and you can even get a cute little bowl of sweets for when you’re flagging. It’s clean too. Oh, and there’s free wifi.
The best bit? It’s always the right amount of quiet: busy enough for some background noise, but you can always get a seat and you’ll hardly ever have to queue for your next caffeine/cake fix.
Another Holborn-based post after the fabulous Hunterian Museum the other week – this lovely Café is *literally* across the road so you could do both at the same time, if you’re so inclined.
I stumbled across this bright and airy café after staggering around looking for somewhere to put off having to brave Holborn station again (it was Saturday afternoon, after all). This place has lots going for it: daffodils on the tables, vegan sandwiches, falafel in little packets and red bush tea by the cup (all of which are still rare in London).
They even had speedy free wifi, plenty of space to work and if you’re into some light background noise then you’re in luck. The sound of a radio plays quietly in the background, and it’s a perfect working environment.
Turn into Kingly Street at the classy end of Soho and you’ll find the cutest cupcakes inside of the M25. Forget Hummingbird – Crumbs & Doilies is the bakery of choice for the quieter Londoner. And your author can confirm that their cakes are very yummy indeed.
A quick one from the aftermath of a recent wedding in Richmond – have been there once more since and the quality of the service, food and smoothies is brilliant. The other half also assures me that the hot chocolate is top-notch.
Not sure on wifi for this one, but we all need a break away from the internet every so often, no?
I only ask two things of a market in winter: hot apple juice on sale, and cover from the bad weather. At Ally Pally’s local farmers’ market, I found both.
This lovely little food market takes place every Sunday from 10am to 3pm – vendors sell everything from spicy sauces to cookies and fresh meat. There’s also lots of lovely ready-to-eat food on offer, from morrocan to cheese toasties and freshly brewed coffee. Go with an open mind as you never know what you might add to your shopping list.
Venture downstairs through the white arches at the National Gallery and you will find not one but three places to eat and drink: an espresso bar, cafe and a restaurant.
The cafe was quite busy for a Tuesday morning (but still the quietest of the three) but there’s no background music so I could quite happily concentrate on writing for a few hours.
A huge assortment of cakes, cookies and pastries is waiting for you at the door, and they also have sandwiches, salads and fresh juices on stand-by. Having gorged myself on cake and ice cream in Richmond at the weekend, I stuck to a blackcurrant tea, which costed a Starbucks-beating £2. Even the coffee was no more than £2.10 – very impressive for what is essentially a tourist attraction in the middle of London.
Halfway through writing my review, I noticed something odd – I was the only person in the cafe with a laptop. This is an unusual feeling for someone who regularly writes in cafes – I’m more used to squeezing in between a few stressed-looking freelancers and fighting for the nearest plug socket.
But the National Gallery’s distinguished clientele has its pros and cons – there’s no wifi and indeed no plug sockets to fight for, so come prepared with everything offline and a charged laptop if you do want to work here.
Anything else to report? They sell teas by the packet and have prints of famous paintings on the walls – a ploy to get you to buy a print no doubt, but a nice reminder of your extraordinary surroundings nonetheless.