Studying abroad in London is great, but how do you balance out the pressure to study and the urge to have fun? Well, my solution to the problem was to find study spaces around London—student-friendly coffee shops, hidden libraries, and free public spaces with, of course, free wifi.
Here’s the list:
This is absolutely one of the best places to study! The staff are friendly and you don’t have to worry about being kicked out of the shop for staying too long. The main area to study is in the basement area (surprisingly quiet), so don’t be startled by the lack of seating on the ground floor. The only downside to Timberyard is that it is such a popular place that all the seats will be taken by 10AM. Make sure to get there early!
Hours: Mon-Fri: 8AM-8PM, Sat-Sun: 10AM-6PM (Old Street location)
Mon-Fri: 8AM-8PM, Sat-Sun: 10AM-8PM (Seven Dials location)
Price/menu: Similar to other coffee shops around London—teas and coffees are usually £3-4 pounds and pastries are £3 or above. They also offer ready-made sandwiches.
Travel time: 20-25 minutes by public transportation
- Arrive before 10AM to make sure you get a seat.
- If you are planning on staying here for a long time, be nice and order more than just a cup of coffee. Although there aren’t any staffs who will stare you down for staying for more than 2-3 hours, be courteous and recognize that this is a store, not a public library.
- Charge your laptop before leaving! Power outlets do exist, but you have to look for seat with the outlets next to it.
2) Barbican Center
Barbican center is mostly known for its theatres and exhibition halls, but there is a library located on the 2nd floor of the building that anyone can use. There are study spaces throughout the library, but the Music Library has the most outlets and study cubicles. Free wifi is available–the password is available at the main desk located nearest to the Music Library.
Address: Silk Street London EC2Y 8DS
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9AM-11PM, Sun: 10AM-11PM (Barbican Center)
Mon-Wed: 9:30AM-5:30PM, Tues&Thurs: 9:30AM-7:30PM, Fri: 9:30AM-2PM, Sat: 9:30AM-7: 30 PM, Sun: CLOSED (Barbican Library)
Travel time: 30 minutes by bus OR 40-45 minutes by walking
- There are total of 5 power outlets in the Music Library and 3 in the general library area. The outlets are located at 5 study cubicles, so if you don’t find a seat in one of these cubicles, then you’re out of luck. However, the library has a sign that says laptop users who need power outlets have priority in using these cubicles to make sure non-laptop users aren’t taking up the space.
- Charge your laptop before coming—there might not be free power outlets for a while.
- If you can’t find any available power outlets, go to the ground level in the general cafe area where there are tables and outlets available.
3) Southbank Centre—Royal Festival Hall
If the weather isn’t too great and all you need is a place that’s not Conway or Fischer to study, Southbank Centre is your best option. Although there are seating areas available on each of the floors, the best place to study is the 4th floor in Blue Bar. One things to note is that since it is a bar area, on Fridays and during the weekends, the place might be used primarily as social gathering area. The only disadvantage is that there are (as far as I know) only two power outlets in the Blue Bar area.
Address: Belvedere Road London SE1 8XX
Hours: Mon-Sun: 10AM-11PM
Travel time: 3 minutes by walk
- Charge your laptop before coming!!
- Check for any events that might be going on to avoid crowds and performance noises.
4) Wellcome Library
One of my favorite places to study in London, not only because there are enough power outlets for everyone, but because of its studious atmosphere. There is also a cafe downstairs on the ground level that you can use for coffee breaks. One interesting policy about the library is that you cannot take your own bag into the library. Instead, you can either leave your bag in a locker that’s located on the same floor as the library (for £1) OR you can use the free cloak room on the first floor. They will give you a clear plastic bag where you can put whatever you need to study and then you store away your bag with the security. I also haven’t found a working wifi here…
Address: 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE
Hours: Mon-Wed, Fri: 10AM-6PM, Thurs: 10AM-8PM, Sat: 10AM-4PM, Sun: CLOSED
Travel time: 20 minutes by bus
- Take only what you need to since you’ll be transferring your bag contents to a plastic bag they give you.
- There is Euston Square tube stop (tube ride 20 minutes), but try to take the bus instead of the tube to see what’s around the area (the bus route goes down Kingsway)
5) Look Mum, No Hands!
This is the place that was frequently recommended online as a place to study, so I had to check it out. The place is part bicycle shop and part coffee shop/restaurant. I was a little overwhelmed at first by number of people there, but no worries—there are seats for everyone. One thing to note is that they take credit cards only for purchases above 5 pounds, so make sure you have cash if you are interested in getting just a cup of coffee or tea. One disadvantage is that they say they have free wifi, but you can’t seem to find it. The lady next to me got onto their wifi but then got kicked out of it 30 minutes later. Hmmm…so it’s not a free wifi after all.
Address: 49 Old St, London EC1V 9HX (located right next to Timberyard)
Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30AM-10PM, Sat 8:30-10PM, Sun 9AM-10PM
Prices: Similar to Timberyard—coffee and teas are usually around £3 and pastries are £3 or above. They also serve breakfast and lunch that ranges from £7-10.
Travel time: 20-25 minutes by bus Suggestions:
Avoid busy lunch hours. I suggest coming in after 1PM instead of coming early at 9AM, just so you don’t have to deal with staff members telling you to move to another space to make room for people coming here for lunch, because they will tell you to move.
6) Kings College Franklin-Willkins Building
Franklin-Wilkins Building is convenient place to study because it is so close to Conway Hall and the facility is great. I have use the library inside the building a couple of times, later to learn that only students of King’s College or its affiliated school are allowed to use it (without King’s ID, you buzz in and the front desk staff will open the gate for you). If they are nice, they will let you in. Otherwise, use any of the seating areas in the building instead. I like to study in the cafeteria area that is just across from the library and there are lot of power outlets by each of the tables. Upon entering the building, just don’t forget to sign in and don’t mention anything about being a visitor—the security will not care but just pretend you are a King’s College student.
Address: Stamford Street, Lambeth, London SE1 8WA
Hours: M-F 8:30AM-1AM, Saturday-Sunday 10AM-1AM (Library) (check website for updated hours)
Travel time: 2 minute walk–it’s the building right next to Conway Hall!
7) Starbucks *on Kings Way
Alright, despite how nice and cute the independent coffee shops are, a lot of them are located in East End area where you have to take a bus for at least 15 minutes. If you just want a close coffee shop, not to be cliché, but Starbucks is perhaps one of the best places to get some work done. I am specifically recommending Starbucks located on King’s Way because I find this location to be more student-friendly than the two locations on Strand. For starters, the place is more spacious and possibly because it is located near LSE, it feels more like a sit-in and study place rather than “let’s chat over coffee and hot chocolate” like the ones on busy Strand.
Address: (Right across from Wasabi)
Hours: M-F 6AM-9PM, 8AM-7PM
Travel time: 10-15 minute walk
- Da Som Kim (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)
You can view the full blog post (with extra pictures) at Travel &
Images©Da Som Kim. All rights reserved.