In a short span of about five years, Brussels has made the jump from the occasional buttoned-up co-working initiative to a hub thriving with cozy, multifunctional spaces where entrepreneurs of all breeds can find a professional home. From pay-per-minute coffee bars to lush townhouses in the European Quarter, these five co-working spaces represent some of Brussels best choices for the freelancer or small businesses in need of offices, inspiring connections or simply a chat during lunch.
The Library | courtesy of The Library
Making full use of Brussels’s large supply of gorgeous townhouses, The Library boasts locations in Ixelles, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, and at Square Ambiorix, a stone’s throw from the European quarter and its commission building. CEO Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld found herself inspired by the Scandinavian Hygge way to decorate her office spaces, creating pastel-colored, gentle rooms aimed at nurturing a sense of well-being and community. That community—and its diversity—is exactly what the entrepreneur considers “the best part of The Library”: a network not only connecting high profiles in diplomacy, law, translation and think thanks but also young start-ups with a focus on design and art. Add a manned reception desk, homemade cakes, and a sunny garden, and this is what The Library’s higher price tag is about, which is understandable. “Coworking has grown up” is a phrase that has started to pop up regularly, and by looking at Anne-Sofie’s refined space and international clientele, it’s difficult to think of a truer adult in the business.
Bon Jour Bruxelles | Courtesy of Bon Jour Bruxelles
Literally wishing Brussels a good day, Bon Jour Bruxelles, in an intimate corner building on the edge of the EU quarter, also embraces the Hygge style but keeps things more casual with one long communal table. If you’re looking for a little privacy, sit on the cozy mezzanine or in the shared office or the team meeting room. A splendid choice for freelancing creatives to have a reason to get out of their pajamas in the morning, days at Bon Jour regularly end with a workshop or event of some kind. Since founder Silvia Galli has made it her mission to “not just provide a place to work from but a unique world made of connections, new experiences, creativity, and good vibes,” these happenings vary from vision board or cooking workshops to networking drinks, inspiring talks and even concerts. Positivity is held in high regard, and their reasonable prices should make you smile a little too.
What’s in a name? Honest coffee guzzlers have access to all the fair trade coffee they desire while working at The Mug, and that’s just the beginning. With 24-hour access to workspaces on two floors, wifi, a printer, coffee, and tea all included in a €160 monthly subscription, it’s one of the most cost-aware choices around. Journalist and co-founder Lauranne Lahaye is proud to have created the warm and welcoming space she herself was missing in the capital only three years ago when co-working in Brussels still felt decidedly more buttoned-up. Close to Schuman but far from a Eurocrat gathering, The Mug has evolved into a working home to about 50 professionals in journalism, communication, the food sector, NGOs, law, EU-oriented start-ups, and more.
Inside fashion designer Olivier Strelli’s former ateliers between the south station and the Brussels ring, 70 proudly mismatched seats await the bums of another mishmash: designers, producers, architects, watchmakers, and a whole bunch of other creatives have selected Factory Forty as their go-to place to get some work done. Quite surprising because of its size, the co-working space boasting seven halls is actually a family business. Co-founder David Sdika and his family are around often, making sure their coworkers “feel like they are in a ‘business B&B,’ more than in a corporate environment.” Besides being the only “chicken-friendly” place in town (four eggs are laid in the chicken coop daily), Factory Forty’s garden with a pond, its sunbathed rooms, and its plethora of plants allow for even the palest of office workers to feel at least somewhat closer to nature.
Being stared out of your favorite coffee shop because of too much computer time is a thing of the past when striking down at La Récré Café, just off Ixelles’s humming Place Stéphanie. An idea brought over from other metropolitan hubs by entrepreneurs and filmmakers Alice and Boris in 2015, the pay-per-minute “coffee bar annex, co-working space annex, boardgame living room” embraces visitors lustily tapping away at their keys for hours on end. Their “pay for how long you stay” formula charges four euros for the first hour and an additional 50 cents for every 10 minutes after that. These prices include all-you-can-guzzle coffee, tea and water, and all-you-can-eat cereal and biscuits. An entire day at the space will set you back 16 euros in total. Since La Récré is only open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends, freelancers who hold irregular hours and don’t mind the occasional game of chess played by their side could find a great solution here.
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