New York City's Best Workspaces for Students and Freelancers

Ace Hotel Lobby
Ace Hotel Lobby | © Eric Laignel
Sasha Rampersaud

New York City is a mecca for dreamers; this influential center of art, culture, fashion and finance attracts writers, artists, actors, students and musicians from all corners of the world with its promise of infinite opportunities and potential success. However, what it doesn’t promise is a large selection of palatable workspaces. Luckily, we’ve rounded up 10 perfect spots throughout Manhattan where students and freelancers can grab a cup of coffee, find an open outlet and work comfortably in a spacious environment.

Ace Hotel Lobby

1. Ace Hotel

Hotel, Independent Hotel

Located in Midtown Manhattan, Ace Hotel ‘has become a central hub for New Yorkers and international travelers alike, and a hotbed of startups, freelancers and people who just want to kick it.’ The hotel lobby is the ideal space to work in; it’s open to the public, it has free Wi-Fi and it holds an assortment of club chairs and custom-made couches that cater to any seating preference. Elegant light fixtures, a stained glass ceiling and table tops made from discarded pieces of the Hubble telescope lenses add a mixture of industrial and handmade elements. This beautiful space, adorned also with large, white columns and a vintage American flag, creates a warm, inviting environment where anyone is welcome to socialize, work or wind down.

2. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

Cheesemonger, Charcuterie, American, Vegetarian

Located in New York City’s Flatiron District, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is famous for its glass-walled kitchens through which visitors can witness ‘the centuries-old craftsmanship that goes into every batch of’ their award-winning line of cheeses. It’s unique two-story structure offers plenty of comfortable seating. Wooden tables, leather armchairs and cushioned booths are arranged so customers can nestle into any nook or cranny they find. Downstairs from the cheese-making kitchen is The Cellar where guests can enjoy a large selection of food such as ’embellished mac and cheese, roasted veggies, braised meats, soups, artisan cheeses and charcuterie.’ To complement the delectable dishes, Beecher’s offers a wide range of coffee, wine, beer and mixed cocktails. Ultimately, Beecher’s is great for group meetings as it provides a quiet but sociable environment, spacious seating and, most importantly, free Wi-Fi.

3. Corners

Coffee Shop, American

Nestled in the far side of Chinatown is a cozy, aromatic gem known as 12 Corners. It’s not as spacious as some of the other venues on this list but what it lacks in seating, it makes up for with outlets. Each small table is near an open power socket, making this a great place to hunker down with a laptop for an entire afternoon. It also has free Wi-Fi that gives access to high speed Internet. While it may not serve much food (other than delectable, fresh pastries), it does offer a long list of coffee and latte flavors, its most notable being the green tea latte. 12 Corners is prized for its $2.50 coffee, and visitors are allowed to warm up their cups one time for free. Moreover, what makes this quaint café even more unique is its impressive latte art; ornate designs embellish the tops of all the delicious hot drinks. 12 Corners recently opened a second location on 121 Mott Street.

4. BlackCat LES

Cafe, Tea

Low ceilings, brick walls and age-scarred wooden columns are some of the first things visitors notice as they enter BlackCat LES. Upon closer inspection, you will find an ornate writer’s desk, an old typewriter, an austere grandfather clock, and a small, wooden piano. The experience is much like taking a step back in time, circa 18th century, which is great for New Yorkers looking for an escape from the modern city. Upholstered armchairs are scattered throughout this saloon-style coffee shop, offering an array of comfortable seating, and free Wi-Fi is available to all. Moreover, customers can enjoy a small breakfast menu and choose from a variety of beverages which include hot drinks, soft drinks and iced drinks. By New York City standards, a cup of joe here is very affordable, with a small cup of house blend coffee going for $2.07. Ultimately, BlackCat LES is a unique space frozen in time; it often hums with lively discussion, so this is a good spot for those who don’t mind a little background noise as they work.

5. Coffee Foundry

Bar, Cafe, American

The Coffee Foundry, New York
Courtesy of Doma Café & Gallery
Coffee Foundry makes an excellent workspace because of its delicious food, great customer service, roomy seating and free Wi-Fi. It is ideal for students seeking a quiet place to study as no music is played inside and the noise level is usually no higher than some whispers. Oddly enough, it becomes a karaoke joint in the evening; however, baristas will occasionally allow customers to use one of the private karaoke rooms for meetings and group work. The laptop-friendly coffee shop has many outlets and sports a minimalist industrial look. While it may not appear to be ‘cozy,’ its austere aesthetic likely encourages productivity amongst visitors as there is not much décor to distract the eye. Coffee Foundry is also notable for its delicious cups of coffee and espresso drinks.

6. Berkli Parc Café

Cafe, American

Inspired by the laid-back spirit of northern California, Berkli Parc sports rustic wooden tables, high-backed wooden chairs and trendy light fixtures that hang delicately from the ceiling. This cozy café doubles as a getaway from New York City’s fast-paced lifestyle to the more relaxed West Coast. Everything from the wine list to the Wi-Fi password reflects California: a UC Berkeley decal adorns a wall, all the wines are imported from The Golden State and the password to the shop’s free Wi-Fi is the name of a California city. Berkli Parc offers all-day breakfast, salads, sandwiches and entrées. There is also a wide selection of beverages to choose from, ranging from coffee flavors to beers to mixed cocktails. This venue is a great workspace due to its plentiful outlets and daily happy hour which make for a laptop-friendly and affordable dining spot.

7. The Bean

Coffee Shop, Vegan, Tea

The Bean’s three new locations all sit on the crux of Manhattan’s East Village. Each offer numerous vegan options, an abundance of outlets, friendly baristas and delectable literary-themed drinks such as the Nutella Fitzgerald. This warm and inviting venue acts as a coffee lounge, internet café and bakery with sunny window seats and free doggie biscuits for neighborhood canines. Although it may be difficult to find a seat, the wait is worthwhile for one of The Bean’s famous chai lattes. The best time to visit is during the morning hours when the shop is most empty and the food is most fresh.

8. The Ludlow Hotel

Boutique Hotel

Two poster bed in a small en-suite room at the Ludlow also featuring a flat screen TV on the wall facing the bed and two purple chairs around a small table
Courtesy of The Ludlow /
The newly opened Ludlow Hotel, located on the Lower East Side, hosts an impressive 187 guests equipped with IndoPeruvian four-poster beds and lofty city views. It also has a lobby, bar and garden open to the public, making it a versatile workspace for meetings or a quiet study session. The lobby is elegantly furnished with a large, limestone fireplace, comfortable leather sofas, soft rugs and stylish ottomans. It has the look and feel of a sprawling living room, thus making it one of the most comfortable areas to work in. The adjoining bar has an eclectic, upscale design and the outdoor patio and garden is a beautiful escape from the busy streets of Manhattan. Public space at the Ludlow Hotel is largely inspired by the 1980s New York City scene. With spacious seating, strong cocktails and an impressive restaurant and lounge, this hotel is a hidden gem that is perfect for work and play.

9. The NoMad Hotel


You do not have to be a guest at this Parisian-inspired luxury hotel to benefit from its beautiful bi-level library. Open to the public, The NoMad Hotel Library offers finger foods, coffee, tea, wine and cocktails. The two levels are connected by an original spiral staircase imported from the south of France, and custom-made cushioned chairs are neatly placed to provide spacious seating and a pleasant aesthetic. The library gives off a warm, pleasurable and inviting feeling to visitors as its dimly lit lamps and spotlights complement the dark oak furnishings. According to the site, ‘An eclectic literary collection is available, featuring extensive volumes on such wide-ranging topics as the History of New York, Music, and Cocktails and Spirits.’ This is a stunning hidden escape that is ideal for quiet studying.

10. Think Coffee

Shop, University

Step into any one of Think Coffee’s eight locations and you are likely to see dozens of students and professionals working, reading or writing. Whether you’re around Union Square, Hell’s Kitchen, Hudson Yards, the Meatpacking District, the Flatiron District, Bowery or Greenwich Village, each venue offers spacious seating and lots of tables to work at. The original location, situated on Mercer Street, is steps away from New York University, so be prepared to walk into a shop brimming with anxious students during the fall and spring semesters. Additionally, only three venues have free Wi-Fi: the Mercer Street location; the 42nd Street location, located in the courtyard of Silver Towers; and the Meatpacking location on 8th Avenue. While this may seem like a hindrance, it may be important to note that the Internet is more often a foe than a friend when it comes to productivity.

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