Looking for coworking offices, cafés and all-purpose spaces in London where you can bring the laptop, get a decent coffee and get some work done with the children in tow during the school holidays?
I freelance from home, so I’ve been on the hunt for places to take the kids and squeeze in a bit of work time while visiting London this Easter. I picked out three of the best child-friendly coworking spaces for an article in Time Out London, and once I started looking, I found so many great places that it seemed a shame not to do anything with the rest of the research.
So, here they all are – in one massive brain dump.
Some of these I’ve tried first-hand, some are courtesy of my good friend Google, and some are thanks to some very helpful fellow freelancers on three excellent Facebook groups (Freelance Heroes, Freelance Lifestylers and Doing It For The Kids: Community, if you’re interested – they’re all amazing).
There are 15 places in total and they cover formal coworking offices with nurseries for babies and preschoolers, soft play centres with cafés for school-age kids, workshops where you can leave the kids and work in an adjoining café for a few hours, plus a few London museums, bookshops and cafes with Wi-Fi where you could work alongside a teenager revising for exams.
Oh, and that playland thing in IKEA.
15 Places In London Where Freelancers Can Work With Kids In Tow
London coworking spaces with a creche or nursery for babies and preschoolers
Firstly, if you’re a parent with a baby, toddler or pre-schooler, this amazing guide from DIFTK is a must-read: http://www.doingitforthekids.net/#coworkingguide (and if you’re new to DIFTK, the new podcast is brill: http://www.doingitforthekids.net/diftk-podcast/)
It’s got some great info on some of the places listed below, plus loads of extras. My favourites are…
1. Cuckooz Nest, Clerkenwell, because they have a pay-as-you-go option and you don’t have to be a member. You can literally book a desk and a slot in the creche for a day if you just need to get some work done. Huge bonus is that your baby is close by for feeding times etc. http://www.cuckooznest.co.uk/location/clerkenwell/
2. Second Home London Fields looks great too, if you’re happy to become a member: https://secondhome.io/londonfields
3. Third Door in Putney looks ace – I emailed the founder, Shazia, to see if they also offer childcare for older children and this was her reply: ‘Yes, we offer childcare for children aged up to 8. Most of our members will bring their school-aged children in during school holidays and sometimes we take them after school. It is usually on an ad-hoc basis. Our offering is mainly for daycare for under 5’s but going forward as we open more sites we have space and offering planned for school-aged children aged up to 11 for after-school and holidays.’ Amazing! https://www.third-door.com/
4. Huckletree West is another of the biggies in this category and looks pretty swish, again it looks like you have to sign up for membership though. Worth a look: https://www.huckletree.com/locations/west
Creative play spaces for school-age kids
5. While I was researching solutions for older children – the kind of age that can’t be left to their own devices just yet, but are usually too old for a creche – I discovered Under 1 Roof in Greenwich, which looks really cool:
They have all sorts from soft play and an indoor adventure playground to shops, places to eat and even kids’ hairdressers. Events manager Lucy told me all about the space:
‘We have free guest Wi-Fi throughout the building. Our on-site cafe has access to Wi-Fi too. You find many people working from their laptops regularly in there! We have free onsite parking.’
Plus, she explained they have a holiday club that’s running over Easter and sounds like great value for money: ‘During the Easter holidays we have our Holiday Club running for the 2 weeks. This is a drop off service between 8am – 6pm. This is for 5 – 11 year olds. They do various organised activities around the centre. It is £25 per day.’
This runs in other holidays too, so could be a great option. http://www.under1roofkids.com/about-us-2/
6. I discovered over-8s can be left for 4 hours at Kidzania and they’re scanned in with a wristband so they’re totally safe. There are cafés with Wi-Fi close by and on the premises, or you can just hit the shops in Westfield and call it work… maybe. It’s about £ 23 over Easter which isn’t a bad hourly rate and the kids will love it. https://kidzania.co.uk
7. If you just need to be able to reply to emails but don’t need to sit and do solid, uninterrupted work, a soft play centre could work. This post is amazing: https://www.thelondonmother.net/home/londons-best-indoor-playgrounds if you’re looking for London’s most epic soft play centres and indoor playgrounds. My favourite is The Sherriff Centre in a vaulted church. It’s divvied up into 1-hour slots so you can whizz through some emails and watch them from a ringside seat in the café. https://thesherriffcentre.co.uk/things-to-do/hullabaloo-softplay/
8. Desperate? Drop them off at the SMA playland at IKEA while you work in the café. Walk out with an hour’s work done, happy kids and a BILLY bookcase… The one in Tottenham, for example, takes kids aged 3-8 for an hour of supervised play. They need socks. https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/store/tottenham/
9. There are some gorgeous looking child-friendly London cafés in this fab post: https://www.nanniesinc.com/blog/our-pick-secret-child-friendly-london-cafes – I like the look of Little Highness in Highbury in particular: https://www.facebook.com/littlehighness/
10. Also, Yummy Yummy In My Tummy in Stoke Newington looks pretty fab: http://www.yummyyummystokey.co.uk/
11. Oh! Another one that looks great is Cuckoo Hibou in Fulham. A helpful Facebook freelancer told me they have coworking days and a play area plus coffee and Wi-fi: https://www.facebook.com/cuckoohibou/
12. This is random, but if you need to hire a space for a bit more of an oddball project, Vrumi looks cool – you can book everything from not-your-average meeting rooms to art studios and places to host dance workshops: https://www.vrumi.com/
13. On my Google travels I also discovered andco.life for office spaces in London (and Bristol) if that floats your boat: https://www.andco.life/
14. The Royal Institution do some fab science-related holiday sessions for children, so you could book them in to a half-day one then work using the café’s Wi-Fi: https://www.rigb.org/whats-on
Cafés for teenagers revising for exams
15. If you’re going to work alongside them while they revise, and need a break from the kitchen table, there are some brilliant coworking cafés you could bring a teenager to. I’ve picked out one – The Wren, in a gorgeous church near St Paul’s – because I’ve been and it really is beautiful. Take a look: http://www.thewrencoffee.com/
And if you’re on the hunt for similar spaces, this post is fantastic: https://london.eater.com/maps/best-london-cafes-freelancers-work-wifi. I’ve earmarked Timber Yard and Coffee Works to visit next time I’m in the city and need somewhere to work.