Like all management students, Saanya Narang found herself with lots of reading to do. But rather than staying in the library, she ventured out to find the best coffee shops for studying near LSE – and these were her favourites.
I’m always asked how I find the time to explore London whilst being a student in the Global Masters in Management programme. The reality is: it’s not a pastime. It’s nothing less than my LSE survival strategy.
Close to losing my mind in FOM1 readings, I realised after my first semester that if I didn’t come up with an ingenious study plan I would never leave the NAB, library or desk. So I became one of those people: the kind who convene in cafes for hours with a laptop, drinking limitless filter coffees whilst comparing and contrasting Fayol versus Mintzberg.
However, I didn’t just settle for my next door coffee shop. I made it my mission to discover quirky cafes in interesting neighbourhoods. This allowed me to explore new areas, taste the best lattes and get excited about studying. Efficiency at its best, right?
Here are some of my favourite cafe spots near LSE, so reading The Visible Hand won’t feel so tedious!
Host Coffee is an adorable little coffee shop that was initially started by two school friends in Old Street station with just a coffee machine. Now it’s a fully established artisan coffee shop in Covent Garden that prides itself in being environmentally sustainable. I love the atmosphere at Host: the staff are friendly, the cappuccinos are delicious and the music provides just the right level of background noise. The location is great as it is right next to an oyster bar, opposite Sticks n Sushi and on the same street as Flat Iron. Dinner plans suggest themselves and travel time can be replaced with another reading!
This is probably one of the oddest cafés I have ever been to. Fix is a unique mixture of plush, grunge and vibrant that comes together to create a warm and comfortable place to study. From wooden stools, to leather couches you can sink into, colourful wall art, modern lamps and even some vintage chandeliers, this place is bizarre. Yet, for some reason, it is my go to spot for writing essays. Despite having their own signature coffee, they also feature guest blends so every visit is different. Better yet, they place a lot of emphasis on their music – you can even view their Spotify playlist on their website if it appeals to you. Whitecross Street and the Barbican area is also an interesting neighbourhood to explore with its street art, food market and the Barbican Exhibition Centre. I would recommend Fix Café for the weekends or days you don’t have university so you can spend half the day studying and the other half exploring!
As far as cool places go, it doesn’t really get cooler than this one. If you love cycling around London as much as I do, then this is definitely the place for you. Look Mum No Hands is a cycle café and workshop, meaning that you can literally cycle right in. As you cry over Jensen & Meckling, the friendly baristas, mechanics and chefs will cater to all your bike and caffeine needs. It is always very busy so I find it a good place to study when I’m lacking motivation and want to feel energised. It is the best place for days when I just want to cycle around so I can stopover, grab a coffee, complete my seminar work and then continue my bike ride around London. It’s almost too good to be true.
This is a gem inside of the Covent Garden piazza and combines traditional and modern French creations. Apart from the blatant beauty of this café, the ambience is perfectly quiet. I find it the ideal place to escape the chaos of London and do my readings in this peaceful sanctuary. I particularly enjoy the fresh teas that are the perfect companion after a long day of class and make reading about the Agency Problem, that bit more bearable. Its location at the heart of Covent Garden means that the second I walk out the doors, London in all its glory is waiting for me. Let the fun begin.
What I love about this café is the mystery that surrounds it. Just entering it involves a quest as it is hidden away in a courtyard in East London that used to be a diamond-cutting factory. Once inside, you are transported to a cottage in the countryside in Ireland. It is filled with love, warmth and delicious food. It is the ideal destination to spend hours completing assignments whilst enjoying homely food and beverages. In my opinion, it is the best cappuccino in London!
I feel the need to mention this place because a surprising number of students are completely unaware of its existence – including me, until recently. I only discovered it eight months into my degree and realised how much time, money and effort I had been wasting. Located behind the NAB in Lincoln Inn Fields, it is warm, it is delicious, and it offers LSE students 25% off! The bacon and maple syrup French toast is the perfect pick-me-up after a 9am case discussion, especially since you don’t have to walk far for it. I recommend Fields for group meetings as it is practically on campus so it is convenient, it’s cheap and the round tables make working together easy.
I stumbled across this café in sheer desperation. My friend and I couldn’t find seats in the Hoxton and the music in the Holborn Grind was too loud. In contrast, the Drury was an intimate café with couches, tables and walls adorned with books. Yes, books: real, physical, crisp books that you can hold in your hands and smell the pages as you turn them. After ordering our respective pots of tea, we sat down, took out our laptops and asked the waiter for the Wi-Fi password. He gave us a disapproving look and explained to us that the entire concept of this establishment was to disconnect. It was a place to put away our phones and laptops and to simply read. In that moment it was frustrating. However, I soon realised I had found a rare gem; a place I could come and read with no temptations or distractions!
That’s all for now. But there are so many more incredible cafes out there. We are so fortunate to be studying in this vibrant city where every corner is filled with something new to discover. If you plan your time wisely, you can achieve so much more than your standard monotonous timetable. Some days I just wake up, grab my laptop, jump on the bus and see where I end up. Whether it is Somerset House, the Barbican Exhibition Centre, Brick Lane or the Coffee Bar in Harrods, with the right coffee shop, FOM1 readings can be conquered!
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