Most of the year, being a student feels like a misnomer – why are we named after the thing we do the least? Still, most of us come around during exam season and (reluctantly) take up a little studying. If you’re a student in London and if you’re looking for a place to do some last minute revision, these are our top picks: the all time, hands down, 4 best places to study in London.
Your student home won’t do: you can’t focus here and there’s always stuff on TV you have to watch. So the Campus library will probably be first on your list of places to study in London : every college and university of London will have their own and some are really, really cool (- all time favourite being KCL’s Maughan Library). They do get crowded though, and they can get really noisy.
1. British Library – the library of libraries
If you want a library that is a bit quieter, head over to the British Library. It is the 2nd greatest collection of books anywhere in the world, and by far the largest in Europe. It holds an astonishing 150 million items, it’s free to go in and membership cards are really easy for students to get. They have good wi-fi coverage, a copy of every academic book printed and plenty of study booths, which makes this one of those truly perfect places to study in London, and maybe anywhere in the world. On top of that, it also has 4 different places where you can stop for something to drink or eat, all of them Peyton & Byrne: from the beautiful King’s Library restaurant (we recommend breakfasts here or the made-to-order stir-fries) to the Short and Sweet espresso bar, which serves freshly roasted, ground-on-site coffee.
Maybe libraries are a bit too old-fashioned for you, though. When you think of places to study in London, you’re thinking of somewhere that’s a little more social, where you can feel comfortable while you’re revising?
2 & 3. Student-friendly cafés
Besides the usual (hate them or love them) franchises, there are more and more independent coffee-shops springing up all over the city. Not all of them, however, are great for studying. Take Monmouth Coffee, for example, which is my personal favourite: it’s also the favourite of many Londoners and sitting spaces are a rare luxury. If you want somewhere where you can sit down, enjoy a quality cup of coffee, spread some books over the table, hook your laptop and get down to studying, our recommendations have to go to the Look Mum, No Hands, and to the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs.
Look Mum, No Hands is a cycle café where I have spent many, many hours. This is definitely my top of mind café when I think “perfect places to study in London”. The coffee is great, the atmosphere is really relaxed, the long windows mean you get daylight streaming in and the service is as friendly as you’ll find in the city. It gets busy over lunch time, and isn’t particularly quiet, so you may want to bring your own headphones. You can find Look Mum cafés on Old Street (Central London) and on Mare Street (North London).
The Department of Coffee is a great place to meet people who really, really understand the science, the history and the art of making a cup of coffee. For those of you who care about this sort of thing, they teach classes for budding Baristas and for those of you who don’t, they have free Wi-Fi, great coffee and plenty of seating spaces.
Just remember that coffee shops are never very quiet compared to libraries. If you choose one of these places to study in London, make sure you can cope with noise levels. Headphones, ear-plugs or just plain concentration: choose a noise-cancelling weapon and bring it with you.
Best places to study in London, idea #4: Bookshops!
Not the first place you’d think of, of course – most people go through their whole student experience without walking into one of these. But hear me out. Waterstones is up there with the rest of them in this list of great places to study in London. It’s a really, really great place to sit down and enjoy some quiet revision time. People come and go, of course, but they tend to come alone and they never make a lot of noise. I’ve tried the Piccadilly and the Trafalgar buildings in London and many across the UK, and most of these have large, solid tables where you can sit down and read. They were nearly empty too, so it’s likely you’ll have the table all to yourself.
There is a coffee franchise in most Waterstones, where you can grab a cup of Joe, a sandwich and a cookie if you’re needing an affordable energy boost before you get back to your books. If you visit the Waterstones on Picadilly, it has 6 large floors, a café and a cocktail bar. As an added bonus, check out Hatchards, a bookshop a few doors down the road. It’s a priceless little place, one of London’s hidden gems, and supposedly they furnish books to Her Majesty the Queen of England and her household. Definitely worth a visit, I think.
So that was it, you guys: our best student spots and places to study in London. We hope it helps your student life and revision over the coming months. Best of luck with those essays and exams! If we left your favourite studying spot out, write the name of the place on the comment section below so we can share it with your fellow students in need.
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