NYC: Where can an out-of-towner work for the day? Willing to pay.
October 4, 2012 12:09 AM   Subscribe

NYC: Where can an out-of-towner work for the day?

I'm visiting NYC and need a place to connect to the internet and make phone calls for about 6 hours. Where can that be done in NYC? I'd be willing to pay a small fee (or buy a few cups of coffee).
posted by jander03 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Sharedesk is like couchsurfing for office space.
posted by carmicha at 12:12 AM on October 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Some good suggestions previously and previously
posted by knile at 12:35 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's something to be said for working in a cafe. That said, depending on where in NYC you're based, this may be difficult. Most of the cafes in midtown are not geared towards freelancers looking for a coworking space, and especially making calls might be a problem.

However, if you're willing to schlep out to Brooklyn, there's a strong tradition of larger coffee shops with sprawling back rooms that are set up for exactly what you want. Most people there will be doing exactly what you're doing, the baristas are used to people camping out, and making phone calls won't be a problem.

I like Breuklen Coffee, in Prospect Heights. It's close to the 4/5 train, which makes for an easy commute from Manhattan if you don't know the city well. You can get there in under half an hour from eastern midtown or Union Square.

Another good choice -- and possibly the iconic Brooklyn freelancer cafe due to its use as a location and sometimes plot point on HBO's Girls -- is Grumpy's. That said, it's pretty far from the nearest subway, which is the G (that weird green line that doesn't go into Manhattan at all). So possibly good for tourist cred, and they make the best coffee in the city, IMO. But a schlep for sure, especially if this is your first time in New York. (Note, however, that there are a few Grumpy's locations around the city. Only the Greenpoint location linked above is quiet and spacious enough for what you want.)

I just recently discovered Brooklyn Kolache Company, in Bed Stuy. It's dead quiet on weekdays, and there's an outlet for every table, which is a nice touch. That said, it's not terribly convenient to get to, being located close to the Bedford-Nostrand G train stop, or a 10 minute walk from the Franklin Avenue C train (which'll be probably an hour from midtown, counting the walk). On the other hand, Bed Stuy is a colorful and historic part of the city very few visitors ever see.

If you absolutely cannot leave Manhattan, yelp recommends Vagabond Cafe on Cornelia Street in the West Village, or Birch Coffee in lower midtown. I can't vouch for either as being quiet enough for phone calls, though (which is the main reason these out of the way Brooklyn joints are great -- their main clientele is people who are actively working, as opposed to just generally hanging out).

You might also try Mud in the East Village - I know they have a back room, but no idea if it's good for working as I haven't been on a weekday during business hours. It should be quieter than Birch, though, for sure. There's also apparently table service, which might not be conducive to making calls and such.
posted by Sara C. at 4:52 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is a cafe called The Bean where there is free internet. You don't even have to buy their products to stay. Any Starbucks will give you the same access for free. Any Apple Store, AT&T stores, Barnes and Nobles Some universities (like Fordham) and all hotel lobbies. Enjoy NYC!
posted by Yellow at 5:47 AM on October 4, 2012

Yeah, wifi is not going to be your problem. The vast majority of all coffee places, hotel lobbies, libraries, etc. will have free wifi.

Your problem is going to be a quiet space to work and make phone calls. I'm sitting in a Starbucks right now, and there's just no way I could make a phone call in here and stand a chance of being heard.

The crowd in all the Apple stores is unreal -- I can barely stand going in there to make a purchase, let alone trying to get work done (also there's nowhere to sit down or set up a laptop).

Same for AT&T stores. You can step in to access their wifi on your phone, but there's nowhere to work and the stores are usually buzzing with people making purchases. If the store is quiet, you will be accosted by persistent salespeople trying to get you to buy a new phone or upgrade your cellphone plan. Baristas and hotel people here are used to the unwritten rule that it's OK to sit there for hours doing things unrelated to consuming beverages or staying in a room. Electronics sales people are not.

A library might not work out, because they're quiet spaces and cell phone use is typically frowned upon. Maybe one of the smaller branches, or if you can make calls from the lobby away from your computer, that could work. A little awkward, though.

A hotel lobby could work, if it was a very quiet one.
posted by Sara C. at 6:03 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention that you don't have to be right inside of the places I mentioned, as long as you are close, you can catch the signal. If you are by the Apple store near one of the parks, you can do a lot of phone work sitting on a bench if it isn't raining out! The Bean is nice and quiet, mostly law students and during the day it is not crowded. There are some public spaces that are enclosed where you will have wifi and it is quiet to talk. Try this link to see if there is a space convenient for you.
posted by Yellow at 6:18 AM on October 4, 2012

If it's a nice day, the entire Columbia campus is blanketed in open public fast wifi. And hundreds of quiet and pleasant places to sit. And various cafes and accessible bathrooms inside the lobbies of most buildings. And the wifi works pretty well at the restaurants along broadway too. 1 train to 116th.
posted by spitbull at 8:30 PM on October 4, 2012

Yes, my comments yesterday were based on the assumption that you wanted to do this yesterday, which was a cloudy and drizzly day. If it's today, the Columbia campus would be great, as would Bryant Park. Hooray, the sun has returned! I might even wear non-plastic shoes!
posted by Sara C. at 7:46 AM on October 5, 2012

These were awesome suggestions!

I ended up on a train to upstate NY earlier than I expected, which offers free wifi! Since it was the middle of the day, I was able to spend the 3 hour trip seated far enough from other passengers to make my calls.
posted by jander03 at 9:49 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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