Best non-silent places to study in NYC
January 6, 2015 12:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm house-sitting for friends in New York City next week, which is great. I have to spend the whole week writing papers for school, which is not so great. Can you suggest some excellent places to study so I don't feel like I've totally wasted the trip?

My preferences are:
- I don't do well with total silence, so I'm not that interested in libraries (though I probably will spend a day in the New York Public Library just because it's awesome). I'd prefer cafes, or other places where there's a low key-buzz of people doing things.
- Somewhere where they won't mind me camping out for hours at a time with a laptop, as long as I keep buying things.
- Somewhere with good tea and snacks.
- I need a power outlet for my ancient laptop, but not necessarily wifi.
- I'm mainly looking in Manhattan south of about 14th St, but open to crossing town for a change of scene.
- Open late at night is good.
- Character is good. An open fireplace or a view or great decor or something else special would be great. No Starbucks please.
posted by une_heure_pleine to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot to say: I've seen this question, but it's from 2006 so I'm sure things have changed since.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 12:57 PM on January 6, 2015

FYI, the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library is closed for renovations so I would, sadly, take that off of your list.

There's a cafe in the American Wing of the Met which might be nice? Lots of statues, a view of the park, etc.
posted by damayanti at 1:07 PM on January 6, 2015

Max Caffe - it's in Morningside Heights, but it's awesome. No need to keep buying drinks/food, the staff will leave you alone for basically forever after you first arrive (you will need to flag them down if you want anything). All of the sandwiches/salads are delicious, there are couches and numerous outlets, free wifi, and decent people watching. They have a happy hour starting at 4 or 5 and then it's open til midnight-ish. It does get chilly in the winter though, especially near the windows, so dress warm.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:08 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've said it before, I'll say it again, Hotel Lobbies. Quiet enough to concentrate, but not so achingly quiet that it creeps you out. Very comfortable and some are beautiful. Most lobbies have Wi-Fi, although it's better if you don't need it. You also don't need to buy anything.

When I was in sales in San Francisco, I'd have time between appointments and I'd spend it in hotel lobbies.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:12 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Cafe Reggio is amenable to lingerers, and it's also historic - it claims to be The First Place In The City To Serve Cappucino.

Actually, you probably can't go wrong by going to any college campus in the city and seeing whatever's nearby there - the neighborhoods around the college campuses is probably thick with "places where students to go study and hang out".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:14 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Actually, you probably can't go wrong by going to any college campus in the city and seeing whatever's nearby there - the neighborhoods around the college campuses is probably thick with "places where students to go study and hang out".

I wouldn't really recommend this approach around Columbia -- there are surprisingly few coffeeshops with enough space to camp out, and they're not located super close to the 1 train. Caffè Max is one option (although watch out for bedbugs on the couches; I'd recommend sitting at a table), and Hungarian Pastry Shop is the other one that people like to recommend (no wifi, cleanliness isn't 100%, coffee is really bad, but it is cheap and amenable to all-day studying). Since it's still winter break, you might be able to find a seat at Joe on Columbia's campus, but that's never guaranteed. A little further south (and closer to the A train), Birch and Amrita are decent. There's also a huge Whole Foods at 97th and Columbus that has a giant, busy seating area-- can't remember if they have lots of outlets, though.

If you're willing to go into Brooklyn (especially Greenpoint, but there are options in Williamsburg near the L train as well, which would take a lot less time than going up to Morningside Heights) you'll have more luck just walking around and finding a place that looks nice than you will anywhere in Manhattan.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:07 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry, not closer to the A train (out of New York for a couple months and my mental map is already disintegrating!)-- Birch and Amrita are closer to the B/C.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2015

How far south of 14th Street? If you're down in Tribeca, I recommend Kaffe 1668. It ticks all of your boxes except possibly late nights.
posted by The Bellman at 2:27 PM on January 6, 2015

This question may be pretty relevant.
posted by suedehead at 2:33 PM on January 6, 2015

When I was in grad school at NYU (about 8 years ago), classmates used to study frequently at V Bar on Sullivan St, between Bleecker and W. 3rd. Vbar serves coffee, wine and snacks, but that location isn't that large, and it could get crowded and louder during the evenings. (I never studied there but did go with friends for drinks.) There is also an East Village location, but I've never been in there.

Think Coffee on Mercer St was also popular ( with my classmates back then, but it looks like that's only open until 11.
posted by Caz721 at 2:35 PM on January 6, 2015

Ace Hotel. Big lobby with lots of people camped out with their laptops. There's a Stumptown attached.
posted by mkultra at 2:37 PM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Caffe Reggio is great. So is the Olive Tree Cafe down the street -- plus they have a famous comedy club downstairs (the Comedy Cellar) that you get to/have to go through to use the bathroom.

If you are interested in trekking into Brooklyn, the Greene Grape Annex off of the C train in Fort Green is a very nice cafe/bar for working. It's one of the only places I know that's got a decent alcoholic drink selection and yet remains well-lit and full of people on laptops well into the evening. It's open till 10 on weeknights and 11 on weekends.

(Scanning that 2006 question, note that both Tea Lounges have since closed. Hungarian Pastry Shop near Columbia is fun if you are looking for a very student-y vibe.)
posted by goingonit at 3:43 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding goingonit re Reggio & Olive Tree. If I had 3 hours in NYC before I died, I'd spend it on that block.
posted by LonnieK at 6:11 PM on January 6, 2015

Marlton Hotel lobby on 8th St. WiFi, espresso, chill lounge vibe in the afternoon and the wee hours, pretty busy by the fireplace in the evenings but you can switch to Stumptown across the street till it closes.
posted by nicwolff at 7:01 PM on January 6, 2015

Seconding the lobby of the Ace Hotel... you really have to check it out, from your question it ticks all your boxes. They have long library style tables with electric outlets, so it's almost like being in a library, except you can also order a (pricey) burger and a glass of wine!

I also love Caffe Reggio, but I don't know if they have outlets and wifi.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:12 PM on January 6, 2015

yep, get thee to the Ace Hotel lobby.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 8:04 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also check out the new stumptown off of washtingon square park.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 8:05 PM on January 6, 2015

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