Home to 150 million items, including the Magna Carta, the British Library is the world’s second greatest book collection, and a must for bookworms and history buffs. Only a short walk from King’s Cross, library is free to enter and membership is available for students and members of the public over the age of 18, via online pre-registration. The tightly controlled reading rooms (water bottles and bags must be dropped off in the cloakroom and pencils are the only writing equipment permitted) are great for quiet study with an inspiring backdrop.
British Library. 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, UK, + 0330 333 1144
BFI Reuben Library
The British Film Institute is a favorite on the Southbank culture scene with its film festivals and stylish cinema on the doorstep of the Thames. Its Reuben Library is free to the public and you simply need to fill in a registration card upon each visit to access the study spaces. When you get tired of work, enjoy the vast collection of resources about the film and television world here, from books and journals to digitized material from the National Archives, or wind down with a cocktail at the bar.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8XT, UK, + 020 7255 1444
Ozone Coffee Roasters
Fashionable coffeehouses are in abundance in Shoreditch, but Ozone Coffee Roasters stands out among the rest with good reason. Not only is the coffee delicious, its beautiful light-filled shop has a chic industrial feel and is decked out with plenty of spacious wood countertops, booths and benches for spreading out stacks of books and laptops. Our favourite seats are around its open kitchen and those in the downstairs roasting area.
Ozone Coffee Roasters, 11 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4AQ, UK, + 020 7490 1039
V&A National Art Library
Study spaces don’t get much more beautiful than the Grade II-listed interior of the National Art Library on the first floor of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Located in Kensington, the public reference library provides the ultimate research catalogue for the fine and decorative arts and is free to join for all members of the public by registering online or in person upon their first visit.
Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London SW7, UK, + 020 7942 2000
The Barbican Library
Situated on the second floor of the city of London’s sprawling Barbican Centre, Europe’s largest performing arts centre, is the Barbican Library. It is a split level library with historical books and a study area available on the upper floor, while the lower area opens up to a music zone with plugin and play digital pianos. To take out resources from the library, you need to either work or live in the City of London, but all members of the public are free to use the library facilities.
The Barbican Library, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS, UK, + 020 7638 0568
‘Tea, coffee, work and play. Reimagined’ is the slogan for Timberyard, meaning workers are welcomed with a smile at this quirky coffeehouse. With two venues to choose from, the study cafés are well known for their work-conducive environment and are usually full of young trendies typing busily away at their laptops into the evening, with a weekday 8pm closing time. Arrive early for the best seats and enjoy their buttered toast with jam; as far as simple breakfasts go, it’s hard to beat.
This kitsch study space should be top of the list for tea enthusiasts; its greatest attraction being the wide variety of both classic and more innovative tea blends. Gunpowder green tea, anyone? Hidden behind Tottenham Court Road with plenty of tables and cosy armchairs to settle into, Yumchaa’s newest branch, is popular with local University of London students and office workers in the busy area.
Yumchaa, 9/11 Tottenham Street, London W1T 2AQ, UK, + 020 7209 9641
Part of the Wellcome Trust, the Wellcome Library is one of the world’s major resources for the study of medical history. Membership to the library is free and open to any member of the public. The library is well equipped for every work need, from a group study room, to an assistive study room for members who wish to use audio software and plenty of computers to login to if you’ve left your laptop at home. Before heading home, why not have a wander around the Wellcome Museum’s curious free collections.
Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, Kings Cross, London NW1 2BE, UK, + 020 7611 8722
Sitting on London’s riverside is the Southbank Centre, a complex of venues including the Hayward Gallery, which boasts the title of Europe’s largest centre for the arts. If you’re looking for a relaxed communal space, lots of light, table and sofa space, free wifi and comforting conversational background noise while you study, the complex’s Royal Festival Hall is the perfect spot. The fifth-floor and its balcony terrace have great views of the Thames.
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX, UK, + 020 7960 4200