If you’re lucky enough to be studying in London, you’ll know that it’s a huge creative hub full of wonderful places to work. With the rise of virtual working, London is busting at the seams with co-working spaces, cafes with great WIFI and Londoners seem to be really making use of the city’s parks and libraries to work or study, more than ever before.
This guide will take you through some of our top finds – whether it’s great coffee you need to keep yourself focused, a quiet or late space, or even just some inspiring scenery to keep you company while you study.
If you’re tired of being tucked away in a corner of the library, the Southbank Centre is a vibrant spot to work that will give you a real change of scenery. You can plug your laptop in at the Royal Festival Hall – or, the Queen Elizabeth Café is an airy space with lots of light and of course coffee to keep you going. While you’re there, keep an eye out for what art is on display at the Hayward Gallery – what better way to spend a study break.
Where? Just a 6-minute walk from Waterloo.
Serpentine Bar and Kitchen
If you’re someone who benefits from the inspiration of beautiful surroundings, you might want to try the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen which you’ll find in Hyde Park. You can sit yourself down right in front of the Serpentine lake with your laptop and a coffee. Take in the sounds of nature or enjoy watching the pedalos go round and round while you work.
Where? Hop on the number 16 or 36 bus to Marble Arch.
V&A National Art Library
Especially if you’re studying an art-related subject (but not exclusively), the art library found in the V&A is an inspirational study spot to find yourself in. It’s quiet, airy and the quintessentially English architecture alone is enough to get your creative juices flowing. You just need to register online before you go.
Where? Hop on the District or Circle line to South Kensington.
In the brighter and drier months, make use of London’s green space and find a park to set yourself up in for a few hours in the open air. Getting outside can be the change of scenery you need to be inspired and get some quality work or studying done. Treat the lack of WIFI as a welcome change – it’ll mean fewer distractions while you work. Many of the parks have refreshment vendors too.
Where? All over the city – try Hyde Park, Battersea Park. Regents Park, Dulwich Park, Alexandra Park, St James Park or Richmond Park.
The Wellcome Library at the Wellcome Collection
The Wellcome Collection is a museum that hosts one of the largest resources for the study of medical history in the library – but, you don’t need to be a medical professional or studying medicine to visit the library as it’s open to the public. The library has high-speed WIFI and plenty of computers available to anyone to use, along with group study rooms where you can make a little more noise than the main library. There’s also a comfy reading room with art on the walls and sculptures in the centre – an idyllic place to catch up on some reading.
Where? Hop on the Victoria line to Warren Street.
Bookstores can too be an idyllic setting for a study session. Foyles have comfy seating with adequate desk space for your laptop. We really recommend the Charing Cross shop. With four floors of books, it’s a huge space so finding a quiet spot to work isn’t hard.
Where? There are a few dotted around London – try Charing Cross, Montfield Road, Waterloo Road or at the Southbank Centre.
Any Carnegie Library
There were 660 libraries built in the UK by Andrew Carnegie – 19 of which are in London! That means wherever you are based, you won’t be too far from one. The Grade II listed Herne Hill Carnegie Library is an example of one of the more beautiful architectural settings you can find. It’s worth checking the opening times before you go as they’ll differ depending on which one you visit.
Where? All over London.
The British Library
One of the world’s largest book collections, the British Library is home to no fewer than 150 million items. For that reason, it can be an inspirational place to do some studying. You’ll need a Reader Pass to use the facilities – but, these are free for anyone who has a reason to use the library. You’ll need to register online for this before going. Just bear in mind that you can’t take much in with you – you’ll need to drop your bag off in the cloakroom before you enter.
Where? Just a 6-minute walk from St Pancras station.
The Barbican Library
This is quite a different feel to the British Library, but a great place to study all the same. You can find this library on the second floor of the Barbican Centre, a leading piece of Britain’s famous Brutalist architecture. With it being a performing arts centre, there’s a lot to experience here. Apart from the designated study zone, you’ll find a music area where you can enjoy a study break having a go on the digital pianos. You can also make use of the café in the central courtyard with outdoor seating for the sunnier months.
Where? Hop on the Circle line to Moorgate.
Yes, you can study for free at Google! Students are more than welcome – you just need to become a member online before you go. It’s a huge, bright coworking space spanning seven floors, with lots of sockets along with a café which you can work from too if the work areas get a bit overcrowded.
Where? Hop on the number 43 bus to Finsbury Square.
If you have a little to spend
This cinema offers a great deal for students where you can pay £30 for an annual student membership that gives you access to the member’s room along with a few other perks perfect for cinema-lovers. Along with member’s room access, you get two movie tickets, up to £3 off future movie tickets, 25% off all food and drinks as well as access to the roof terrace. The member’s room stays open late and is a comfy space to get some studying done – you’re most likely to find creative types coming here to work.
Where? Hop on the Piccadilly line to Piccadilly Circus.
SecondHome coworking space, Spitalfields
If you need to make use of a more formal setting – say, for group assignments or study, you can purchase a day pass (for about £40) which allows you access to shared or private rooms with the basic equipment you might need, unlimited printing and scanning along with high-speed WIFI. One of the key benefits of this coworking space is that it’s open 24 hours, so if you’re a nocturnal studier or you find it hard to work anywhere with noise, this could be a great option for you. The day pass also gives you access to showers (perfect if you’re pulling all-nighters) and complimentary tea and coffee. If you were to decide you want to make studying here a regular thing, there are memberships available which would probably be a more economical option for you.
Where? Hop on the Direct line to Aldgate East.
Student-friendly coffee spots
Paper and Cup café
Another bookstore, but a very different one. This is a small, artsy non-profit cafe and second-hand bookstore in Shoreditch that really promotes a work and study friendly zone. Along with the wall of second-hand books, they have an ever-evolving selection of contemporary art on the walls that’s up for sale too.
Where? Hop of the number 47 bus to Shoreditch High Street.
Timberyard café and coworking space
You can tell this café is a virtual-working hotspot when you pass and see the heads down over a sea of laptops. It’s a comfy, welcoming space for people to sip coffee alongside their work or studies. You can come by yourself and find a spot on one of their long sharing tables or make use of one of their meeting rooms for a group study session.
Where? Hop on the number 188 bus to Deptford Fire Station.
Bloomsbury Coffee House
This basement café is a popular one for students. It’s a large but comfy space and plug sockets are plentiful. Great WIFI, great coffee, great cakes – what more do you need?
Where? Hop on the Victoria line to Euston.