When I first started this post I’d just met Alexandra for the first time over coffee. We bonded over a mutual appreciation of spending time alone, and briefly discussed the best coffee shops in London to visit alone.
I thought ‘what a great idea for a blog post’ but here we are, two months later, and I’m only just ready to hit publish. I guess I haven’t had much time alone recently to write about being alone!
Now when I talk about being alone, I’m talking about really being alone. As in no laptop, iPad or mobile phone for company. In a world dominated by technology it’s really refreshing to switch off and look straight ahead instead of always looking down. Strange? Certainly. But totally worth it every now and then.
Today I want to share two places I’m comfortable sitting alone in the ‘I’m happy with my own company’ sense, not the freelancer / blogger laptop friendly sense. That’s a whole other blog post right there…
The best coffee shops in London to be alone
Coffee with egg and pickled herring on Rye, Nordic Bakery Soho
Louis Patisserie, Hampstead
Louis in Hampstead is a Hungarian patisserie that will bring out the creativity in you. If you can’t decide what cake you want they’ll bring a tray of the most beautiful delights to your table so you can choose. The coffee and hot chocolate are excellent and they also serve loose leaf tea in teacups like your Nana has which is just the best. I love going there with friends but it’s also a place I love to be in alone.
I’m not a hugely sociable person but it’s the one place I go where I don’t mind being disturbed. Whenever I’ve been there alone, lost in a poetry anthology I’ve purchased from one of my favourite independent London bookshops, someone has always struck up a conversation.
I’ve had wonderful conversations about Sylvia Plath, art and poetry workshops in London with strangers in Louis. They’ve been special conversations because I’ve genuinely gained something from them. After all, how often do you speak to someone, let alone a stranger, and gain something inspirational from them?
Find Louis Patisserie: 32 Heath Street, Hampstead (no website)
Nordic Bakery, Soho
My second favourite coffee shop in London to be alone could not be more different from Louis. If Louis represents all that it old and great, the Nordic Bakery stands for everything modern and new. Louis is ornate. Nordic Bakery is minimalistic. Staff wear the cutest denim aprons, the coffee is rocket fuel and I feel like I’m in a different vibrant city every time I visit.
I’ve been to Nordic Bakery plenty of times with other people, but it’s also a place I feel happy sitting alone. Nobody ever starts talking to you in Nordic Bakery. I take a book or pick up a newspaper, and as long as it’s not busy I’ll sit there for a while, gradually making my way through the few dishes on offer. Usually egg and pickled herring on rye.
Maybe followed by a cinnamon bun.
Find Nordic Bakery: 14a Golden Square, Soho (www.nordicbakery.com)
I’m not sure I could pick a favourite. Louis is full of creatives. Nordic Bakery is full of trendy media types. There’s a time and a place for both.
Do you have any other recommendations for me? My inner loner is always on the lookout for a new coffee shop to be alone in!