Hotdesk: The best laptop havens for creative work and side projects. Part 1.

September 02, 2016

Having a side-project like music production or a startup means finding time and space to get lots of extra stuff done, often around a full time job. If you happen to be a parent like me then this is even more essential. What was once a peaceful abode is now as quiet as the front row of a One Direction concert.

Escaping to an oasis of calm and creative stimulation is one of life’s small pleasures. Even if you’re lucky enough to work from home already, sitting about in your pants all day will send you insane quicker than you can say Richard & Judy.

Since starting to write music and run a business I’ve been searching out the best and most interesting laptop havens I could escape to. In each edition of Hotdesk I’ll be sharing a different laptop location, scored by these criteria:

  • How good are the cakes & snacks?
  • Can you sneak in your lunch and freeload for the price of a coffee?
  • What’s the ambience like and will it inspire those creative juices?
  • How good is the wi-fi?


Café W at Waterstones

Cafe W - not for creatives on a diet

Just when bookshops were dead and buried, it turns out someone has had the bright idea of inserting Cafe’s in branches of Waterstones - genius. Waterstone’s describe these as:

...a haven from the high street where you can relax and read a book, meet friends, or catch up on emails using our Free Wi-Fi, all while enjoying top quality food sourced from local producers and great coffee served by our bookseller-baristas.

Having recently undertaken a freelance design contract with some days based in exotic Sutton I was overjoyed to find somewhere that could provide relief from the client’s soul destroying offices.

So how does it fair up ?



More cakes than you can shake a stick at, which is top news unless you’re on Weight Watchers / 5:2 Fasting / Atkins. The gamut includes fresh gateaux, home-made cookies, flapjacks - the works. Coffee is also tasty, with complimentary cucumber or lemon water. Very middle class.




It’s DEAD quiet, which is particularly apt as many of the clientele are collecting their pensions and knocking on heavens door. But If you need to concentrate, think or make music then this is a positive. As you would expect from a bookshop, it smells like real books which is nice. And it’s top notch for finding ideas. Having a swan around the various sections of the shop before starting work will give you plenty to think about, from the latest Harry Potter to The Hungry Caterpillar, it’s all here. On the flip side you may leave feeling middle-aged or even retired, at least at this particular branch where indoor pot plants are dotted around the place and the furniture is straight out of a retirement home. Nonetheless this makes it feel strangely cozy, a bit like your grans house. Note that Cafe W branches nearer to civilisation do appear to be more hipster. 6.5/10

Comfy seats and the smell of books, just like your gran’s house


Like many places Cafe W has the good old ‘Cloud’ service. Pop in a fake email address and you’re off.



You can quite easily buy a coffee and spent the best part of a day camped out here if you want. Sneaking in your own lunch might be pushing things too far but the food is reasonably priced and they do toasties. Be warned though that it’s tough to escape without a literary purchase or two.


In summary

Overall pretty solid marks for Cafe W. Be warned you may end up writing an Elton John track rather than a Skrillex banger, but you will get piece of quiet, more robust love handles and some holiday reading to takeaway.