London cafe for lingering
March 4, 2015 12:34 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a cafe in London that has top-notch coffee, comfortable seating, a nice ambiance, and an atmosphere conducive to lingering with a book (assuming you re-up your coffee once in a while)? Bonus points for delicious baked goods. I have seen this question but unlike that poster am specifically looking for a cafe with great espresso/latte drinks. Thank you.
posted by eugenen to Travel & Transportation around London, England (23 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
There used to be an Oxfam cafe in the bottom of the Thomas Neal Centre on Earlham Street, Covent Garden that had good coffee, nice cakes and the opportunity to lounge around and relax. Haven't been there for a couple of years though.
posted by LyzzyBee at 1:11 AM on March 4, 2015

What part of London? Zone 1?
posted by tinkletown at 1:12 AM on March 4, 2015

London is enormous - actually several cities - do you have a particular area in mind?
posted by Hugobaron at 1:30 AM on March 4, 2015

Response by poster: Zone 1. Tourist staying near Green Park; was definitely thinking central London. Thanks.
posted by eugenen at 1:41 AM on March 4, 2015

Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden is as central as you can get and the coffee's really, really good. Haven't been there for a while, though, but doubt it would be as quiet and linger-friendly as you would like as it is so central.

Not central, but you should definitely go to Hampstead if you're a tourist and want to see a bit more of London than central (which to my mind is rather soulless). Hampstead is Hollywood London, all Victorian streetlights and pretty houses. While there you can hang out at The Legal Cafe.

Benugo is a chain; their lattes are my favourite from all the ones I've tried and they have good muffins and other baked goods too. The Clerkenwell branch is a nice quiet space, suited to lingering. But they have branches all over.

Gail's is another chain with good lattes and very good baked goodies (try the strawberry and white chocolate scone!). The Exmouth Market branch is another nice space and Exmouth Market is another street worth visiting.

My favourite coffee spot ever is the Barbican Cafe on Beech Street, which is relatively central. It is the best for lingering, I have whiled away many a happy lunch hour there undisturbed.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:09 AM on March 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

Ugh too late to edit my comment! Also in Hampstead, Ginger & White.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:14 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

All good cafes and you're likely to find nice, unique ones just wandering around the back streets of Covent Garden.

If you're after something more eccentric - this one in Fitzrovia is housed in a former Victorian public toilet and has decent pastries:

The Attendant
posted by Hugobaron at 2:21 AM on March 4, 2015

There are so many places serving lovely coffee now in Central London, it's hard to recommend just one. Are you able to get the London Coffee app on your phone? That will show you the best ones around.

If not then a few that I can recommend less than 5 mins walk from Tottenham Court Road/Covent Garden are Freestate, Wild & Wood, Fleet River Bakery (also does great lunch & cakes and has loads of seating) and Nude.

posted by amerrydance at 2:37 AM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

Update after reading your question again: All of my picks above are great for lingering and have some awesome baked goods going on, but I'd say Fleet River is probably the best fit for all your requirements. I could happily sit in there reading/people-watching all day... Let us know where you end up!
posted by amerrydance at 3:13 AM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

The last time I was in a branch of Gail's I asked for a flat white. 'We can do you a latte with an extra shot of espresso' I was told. Avoid Gail's. In fact as a rule of thumb it's probably worth avoiding any chain with more than three shops. Another rule of thumb is that the good coffee places will be crowded; if not crowded then not good.

Monmouth was previously recommended but they're also one of the best bean-roasters in the capital.

Flat White and the Milk Bar in Soho are both very nice, I've done a lot of writing in both locations.

Tap Coffee has three outlets around Soho and Fitzrovia.

My personal favourite coffee bar, if a little out of your way, is Prufrock on Leather Lane.
posted by Hogshead at 3:49 AM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

No way in hell you'll be able to sit and linger in Monmouth Covent Garden. It's tiny and always packed. I cannot 100% speak to the coffee quality (would expect good) but for tea, lingering and delicious baked goods I recommend the London Review Bookshop's cake shop in Bloomsbury.

+1 to Prufrock for excellent coffee and lingerability. Leather Lane is good for a market wander too.
posted by corvine at 5:18 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hogshead covers a lot of my favourites, and the Barbican is excellent for lingering, but I'll also throw in Lantana, both the Fitzrovia mothership and the Shoreditch satellite formerly known as Salvation Jane.
posted by holgate at 5:22 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm sitting in the British Library right now and I'm BUZZING from the coffee. JOIN ME!
posted by fishingforthewhale at 6:02 AM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't say Monmouth is great for lingering as it doesn't even have a restroom... I pm'ed you with my secret tip :)
posted by mrsh at 6:49 AM on March 4, 2015

If you're staying in Green Park, The Legal Cafe as mentioned above is probably as easy to reach as the Barbican (which is in zone 1). Just hop on the Jubilee line to Swiss Cottage and walk through lovely Hampstead to the café (which is actually on Haverstock Hill so a bit south from Hampstead (tube which is a northern line station).
By Swiss Cottage station there's also one (of now at least a couple more) branches of Del'Aziz, a great coffee shop with amazing cakes but also savoury dishes. This particular one overlooks the local indoor pool (always fun to stuff yourself while watching others work out!) and is only a stone's throw from the station so might be worth popping in.
posted by mrsh at 7:00 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

At the risk of sounding like an insufferable hipster, if you have an iPhone the London Best Coffee app has never le me astray. Lists many of the ones mentioned here and something for nearly every neighbourhood.
posted by Erasmouse at 7:33 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's Foxcroft & Ginger in Soho, which is an easy tube ride on the Victoria from Green Park.
posted by like_neon at 8:05 AM on March 4, 2015

Timberyard in Seven Dials was the only coffee shop I went back to in October. Good pastries, coffee, tea, food, WiFi. I was looking for places to hang out and work as opposed to read, but I think it hits a lot of your buttons.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:44 AM on March 4, 2015

If you find yourself near Waterloo, try the Scooter Cafe which I think might meet your non-Green Park criteria. (Someone's blog post with many pictures)
posted by Grangousier at 2:57 PM on March 4, 2015

I love to linger at the cafe at the top of Europe's largest book shop, the Waterstones off Jermyn Street in London's West End. Browse the massive multi-floor book shop, buy something and then go an read it at the bar/restaurant on the fifth floor.

I hardly ever have a chance to do it, living abroad, but can't wait to go there again.
posted by guy72277 at 12:36 AM on March 5, 2015

During my January trip to London, I spent several hours on different days lingering in the cafe in the Foyle's bookstore on Charing Cross Road. I only had one cookie but it was delicious, so I am guessing the other baked goods are at least decent quality.
posted by rpfields at 1:50 PM on March 5, 2015

Belatedly realised I gave a broken link above for London's Best Coffee-- I use their app, but they list all their recommended cafes on their website (though they don't have them mapped, I guess to get people to buy the app.. they also sell handsome paper maps). I swear I'm not a shill for them!

My rec in warm weather is Curator's Coffee, behind Lloyds- it's a bit tiny to sit inside but they have comfy sofas outside and insanely delicious pastries.
posted by Erasmouse at 1:38 PM on March 7, 2015

Londoner in exile here, I used to like Nordic Bakery, close to Piccadilly Circus/Regent St (and as a bonus, all the streets around are fun to wander in).

Also, Flat White and the LRB bookshop, as mentioned above.
posted by ontheradio at 4:54 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

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