A Freelancer's Favourites: 5 Cafes to Work from in South East London
Whilst I'm not technically a freelancer, most of the work I do for the Health Bloggers Community is done from the comfort of my own home.
"Working from home?" I hear you say. "That must be the dream!"
Well, it is and it isn't. I absolutely love that in the summer months I can sit outside on my balcony, listening to my favourite music and working in the sunshine. I can take an extended lunch break walking around the park and work flexible hours. Some days I get up early and start at 8am, other days, if I have a morning gym class, I work late into the evenings. It means I can go home to visit my wonderful family in Lincoln for longer than a weekend, and if I'm not feeling fantastic, I can literally work from bed. Work freedom makes me happy.
Being a writer and editor, I absolutely HATE sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day; writing creatively isn't something that can be forced.
However, saying this, there are downsides too. It's much harder to motivate yourself as a freelancer. You have to make the conscious effort to get up, get dressed, put on makeup (or not) and get into 'work mode'. Not only this, but it can also get quite lonely - especially if you don't have plans to see anyone in the evening either.
So, to combat this, I work with my boss (the wonderful lady and founder of the HBC, Fab) two days a week, and try to go out to a cafe in my local area once or twice a week too. I don't always get to do it - what with meetings, press events and launches (yes, I know, my life is soo hard!) But when I do, I really enjoy working around other people and trying delicious homemade food.
So here are my five favourite cafes to freelance from in South East London.
Brockwell Lido Cafe, Herne Hill
Distressed wooden tables, avocado on everything and more homemade cakes than you could ever hope to work your way through: this super cute cafe attached to the Lido is an art deco dream. I love sitting at the tall work bench overlooking the pool - it's the area with the most plug sockets so you tend to find that any other keyboard warriors gather around here too. Plus it's next to all the brownies, cookies and cakes - need I say more? The wifi is pretty reliable, although after an hour it chucks you out and you have to re-login. The staff are friendly and don't seem to mind you sitting there for a couple of hours over one peppermint tea - perfect.
Lounge Brixton, Brixton
Don’t be put off by their barely there website. This characterful and spacious cafe on Atlantic Road is run by super friendly staff who give off the ‘we’re so happy to see you!’, vibe despite never seeing you before in their lives. It’s got that hipster lure of re-purposed wood and stripped back simplicity without being pretentious. Lots of plug sockets, plenty of work space, decent wifi and a subtle soundtrack. Also everything on the menu looks AMAZING and it’s all pretty reasonably priced too (I wholeheartedly recommend their juices, cakes, teas and smoothies!) I love sitting by the open window that spans the front wall, so I can gaze pensively towards the appealing buzz of Atlantic Road (I'm a walking cliche, I know). The only downside to this place is that it doesn't open until 11am, and I quite enjoy getting up and out the house on a morning.
The Parlour, Herne Hill
Located a two minute walk from Herne Hill station and overlooking Brockwell Park, The Parlour oozes laid-back intimacy and positive vibes. I'm a big fan of the variety of teas and smoothies on offer and they even have a loyalty card scheme (I'm well on the way to my free chai latte). They err on the healthy side and offer an amazing wrap, side and smoothie deal for £10 - perfect for an impromptu picnic in the park. The only slightly sad thing about this quaint cafe is that they charge extra for soy or almond milk in your breakfast tea or coffee. Not really a big deal, but something that slightly annoys me as someone who doesn't drink cow's milk. Don't let that deter you though, as they more than make up for it in vegan and gluten-free cakes, wholemeal croissants and (again) avocado on everything (can you guess my favourite food?). The wifi is fast, there's plenty of plug sockets and the staff are gorgeously welcoming. It can get quite busy around lunch time as lots of yummy mummies and their adorable toddlers come in for a catch up, but the cafe's small size means that it doesn't become chaotic.
Love Walk Cafe, Camberwell
This independent and bustling cafe probably has the best wifi out of all the places I've tried, however it's not my favourite place to work from. Their menu is extensive and very reasonably priced, plus there's plenty of choice for vegetarians and vegans - the staff were very accommodating when I asked for no halloumi in my sarnie! However, it can get very busy at lunch time; I had to move table three times - twice due to plug socket issues, and once because the staff asked me to move to a smaller table. This isn't a big deal really, but it made me feel a bit out place working on my laptop and I left shortly afterwards. I've included it in the list as I really loved the pastel decor, buzzing atmosphere and tasty healthy food - maybe it's better suited to a casual Sunday brunch than weekday work.
Costa Coffee, Brixton
I know, I know. It's neither alternative, edgy nor the typical freelancer place to go. "IT'S A CHAIN!", I hear you shout. Don't worry, my independent-cafe-loving self reacted in exactly the same way.. Until I went in and discovered that the whole rear of the building is decked out as pretty much the perfect work space for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Some places you go, you feel like a slight inconvenience to the staff if you're not constantly buying food or drink, but there's none of that here. Because it's a chain, staff aren't too bothered about you taking up tables from prospective punters. Wifi is super fast, there's lots of comfy seats and plenty of plug sockets to go around. The only grumble I have is that the stealthy air con has it feeling like a fridge (read: freezer), so take a jumper (and scarf).