Posts Tagged ‘food’

Best cafés and places to work from in London

Best cafés and places to work from in London

I often find myself lacking focus when working from home. I constantly get distracted by food (lots of snacks!), things on my desk and messages on my phone. The worst part of it is, I get bored of my room, which (I think) instigates this lack of focus, and consequently demotivates me. Working in an environment in which you sleep in, just does not help. Instead, I force myself to go out for some fresh air and find a cosy little café, so I can get settled into the ‘working groove’. There are so many cool, calm and quirky work cafés/places in London and I am going to share my favourites with you…


East London

As a university student from East London, I am forever on the look out for the trendiest coffee shops to suit a chilled, afternoon work session. You’d be amazed at how many there are in East London.

The Attendant:



This little food bar space was formerly a Victorian toilet (can you believe it!) The Attendant is one my absolute favourite places to work and to go for brunch with friends. It has been transformed into a unique and comfortable space, and is the perfect setting to get started on that dreaded essay you’ve been assigned. The cosy seating area, which features gigantic armchairs and wooden tables, along with the green Victorian floor tiles, really makes it extra special. It is the ideal place to retreat to on a Wednesday afternoon. You must try the banana bread and the mocha! (Thank me later!)

(Awarded Runner Up Best Coffee Shop in London 2013 and 2015)


Ace Hotel:


If you don’t mind a communal workspace, then the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch is just right for you. It is situated in the lobby of one of London’s chicest hotels. Not only that, but this workspace is available to you for 24 hours with free Wi-Fi! So instead of pulling an all-nighter in your university library, upgrade yourself and head down to this swanky hotel. The different zones are separated with furniture, glass and steel screens, which are used as partitions. If you have a group presentation or a work meeting that needs to be organised, this is the best workspace location for you. It features a long 16-seat table and even has a bar so you and your workmates can treat yourselves to a pint or two after a hard-core work sesh! There are also sofas at the back of the room, where you can put your feet up and relax. This workspace has the best of both worlds; a chilled, yet brilliant working environment.


The Book Club:


Now I know this may seem like an odd suggestion, since The Book Club is a great place to go to for a fun night out, but in fact, it is also a funky café. If you yearn for a more enthusiastic and energetic working environment, then this is your place. It is spacious, bright and airy; the ideal location to get creative thoughts flowing. You and your friends canlinger in a soft modern, minimalist space packed with eccentric antique. If work gets too much, you can play a game of ping pong with a group of friends and grab some lunch or even a yummy milkshake. (I recommend the Mixed Mushroom Gnocchi’ – it’s to die for. The best kind of fuel for productivity is ‘food fuel’ right? – well, I think so anyway!)


Central London




Located in my favourite place in London, (Carnaby Street), this cute little coffee shop is one of my greatest finds. I always come here after a long day of shopping or to escape from my uni/home area. There’s something about this place that is really special. It’s cosy, vintage feel and acoustic music, is just absolute bliss. They play all sorts of acoustic music along the likes of Jack Johnson, Lianne La Havas and from time to time, they whip out some old school, smooth classics. I love coming here with friends for a catch up, or on my own to have a light-hearted study session. Their home-baked cakes are delicious and their coffees are made with a smooth caramel dark roast, accompanied with a medium body and sweet finish. What more could you want?

cake1 coffee sanwich


Joe and the Juice


Not only does Joe and the Juice sell the most insane shakes and scrumptious flatbreads, but the working vibe is perfect for young adults, seeking to complete that deadline by the end of the day. If you’re looking for a more contemporary feel, then this is ideal for you. The store is filled with simple, brown leather interior and captures an element of Nordic design. Whilst working, you can tuck into an Avocado Flatbread (a favourite among all of my friends) and the ‘Hell of a Nerve’ shake; a beautiful blend of strawberries, bananas and elderflower.




If you’re looking to be inspired, feel energised, share good ideas and hatch plans, then Flatplanet is here to help! Their purpose is to provide vitality and inspiration, which are essential qualities that are needed if you want to be productive and successful with your work. They serve nutritious, yet delicious food all day to assist you in getting through your work load. Downstairs, there is a lounge/dining area which even features a guy on a piano! So, maybe after you’ve completed your work, you could head downstairs and get into good spirits! Flatplanet really captures that earthy, airy and motivating feel, which as a student, I would take full advantage of! Why not try one of their healthy topped flatbreads, whilst you’re at it?


South London


The Lido Café


This is a picturesque and charming little café to work. It has a charismatic Parisian feel, which creates the perfect working vibe. The good thing about this place is that is overlooks Brockwell park which is ideal, if you fancy escaping out into the fresh air to get away from revision/work. If you happen to be here during the summer, you can take a dip into the Lido pool after a long, hard day of studying. The Lido has free Wi-Fi and is not too busy, so you should be able to get down to work without any distractions. Spoil yourself with a mimosa or two to keep you going throughout the day!



birdhouse cofee 2

Equipped with retro furnishings and jovial images, this coffee bar emits a vibrant ambience thanks to its joyful colour scheme. It has everything you need to unwind and relax. Whilst working, you can indulge into their yummy banana bread, tuck into their hearty sandwiches or enjoy a smooth espresso. You can do all of these things, whilst working in a laid-back, easy going environment. So next time you’re in South London one afternoon, take a trip to the Birdhouse, open that laptop and work away!


Zack’s Deli


Situated in the stylish streets of South Kensington, Zack’s Deli provides a delightful ambience for those looking for organic homemade food and a fine, little place to retreat to for an afternoon work session. In the deli, there is a communal table where you and your friends can work from and enjoy the benefit of the free WIFI.  They also serve delicious food ranging from pancakes to stews, so don’t worry about bringing a packed lunch! If you’re working hard, you need to make sure you reward yourself with an exquisite juice, along with a cake or two – right?






It’s summer! Now what…

It’s here; the long anticipated 4 months off! With university exams over and freedom from your daily study routine, you are free to spend the next few months the way you like. Whether that’s waking up at 1pm everyday, watching a movie marathon every night, becoming a tourist or getting a summer job.


But many of us realise after 1 week of doing nothing and “chilling”, what was fun for a while, soon becomes boring. And we think, “now what?”


But making the most of summer is easier than you think. Instead of lazing around at home, think about travelling and exploring London everyday. Many beautiful parts of London are left unexplored by Londoner’s because they think they’ve seen it all, for example Shoreditch and Brick Lane. London has much more to it than, Leicester Square and Oxford Street.


Shaun the Sheep "Liverpool Street"

Shaun the Sheep “Liverpool Street”


But when we talk about travelling, sky’s the limit. You don’t have to limit yourself to London. A weekend in Paris or a week in Barcelona, whatever it is, I suggest you do it now. Going abroad with friends is the best experience ever. You can go abroad for as little as £200, so trust me its not expensive.

You're never too young for DisneyLand Paris

You’re never too young for DisneyLand Paris


If travelling’s not for you, get a summer job. Not only is it great experience helping build your employability, but also if you pick the right job, it can be fun, not to mention it helps you earn a bit of extra cash. Companies are always looking for summer temps, and university students are the perfect fit. Queen Mary itself, hires many students to work on campus. Queen Mary has a great “Qtemps” service, which lists all jobs currently available for qmul students. If you are interested in any vacancy, it is super easy to apply using your qmul id. I’ve actually used this service and secured a few jobs in the past.

London's a beautiful city

London “Bank Station”


But most of all, summer is a time to just have fun! Take a few days out now and then, to just go out, party, eat, shop or do whatever makes you happy. For most of us, this will be one of the last few summers we have before we enter the working world, where we will get just a few weeks off. So make everyday count and have a great summer!

Don't forget the ice-cream

Don’t forget the ice cream

Much Love,


Coffee Inspiration

So it’s the final week of term and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. It’s my last ever week of lectures for my degree. One thing I will miss which sounds a bit weird is the quotes (or notes) that are written on the blackboard just outside “the Coffee House” on Grove Road, a couple of yards from East Gate at the Mile End Campus which sell tea, coffee, cakes and other baked goods. They give you something to think and reflect about and make you laugh (sometimes out loud), especially in the hectic, busy life of a final year undergraduate student. It’s always positioned in a really visible position for pedestrians to read and it almost makes you feel intrigued to buy something from their shop. There have been countless good ones but unfortunately I haven’t been able to take pictures of many. But I did manage to get one!


I think it’s a creative thing for the store to do. I will miss seeing and reading them once I have officially left the beloved Queen Mary uni. Not only has it been a recent thing used by the store but is also an idea widely used in Mile End underground station. Double inspiration and thought for students!



A leap of faith “From school to university”

You’re about to take a big step in your life, make a really important decision and you’re scared but excited. I totally agree university is one of the biggest milestones in your life. But remember you’re not alone, everyone feels the same before taking a big step. And trust me, when you do take that leap of faith, you’ll feel great about yourself.

Joining university is a fun and not at all daunting experience. I know it can seem scary, because I felt the same. But trust me, you will enjoy your 3 (or 4) years at Queen Mary.

I feel it’s a chance worth taking, and Queen Mary will not let you down. I am within the School of Economics and Finance at Queen Mary, better known as SEF. SEF has an excellent reputation, and provides all of us with brilliant facilities, not to mention SEF is located within the main “Queens Building”.

Queens Building

Queens Building

As a BSc Economics student, I feel Queen Mary really allows students to unlock their full potential. Lecturers stretch you to the limit, and make learning, not just about memorising but challenging yourself and questioning everything. You really commit yourself to your subject, studying something you love from all angles.

I’ve received unimaginable support from staff, lecturers do have office hours, but they’re generally happy to help at any time.

I’ve got the chance to work with live Bloomberg data, at the SEF Bloomberg terminals. Giving me the chance to explore my subject in great depth. There’s not been a time when I thought, “I’m bored today”.

I love the location of Queen Mary, based in the East End on the horizon of Canary Wharf. It’s the perfect location for any Economics student, you have London’s biggest financial district round the corner. Giving you the chance, to attend major events at big firms like Morgan Stanley, HSBC and JP Morgan.

The world of finance 'Canary Wharf'

The world of finance ‘Canary Wharf’

The SEF careers service has close links with major firms such as, The Bank of England, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Citibank and much more. Giving you the chance to secure amazing placements and internships. Lipsheon and Raj are both part of the SEF careers team, and from experience, I can tell you their advice is brilliant. The careers help you will get is unimaginable.

Putting academic stuff aside, Queen Mary offers you so many societies to choose from. I was so excited in the first week that I ended up joining more societies than I could handle. Queen Mary has a lot to offer in terms of societies, baking, quest radio, Theatre Company, dance, economics, trading and investment, horse riding, numerous sports teams, Lego and even Harry Potter (ooooh I hear you say).

The campus, is also award winning. Providing students with every possible necessity at affordable prices. From coffee shops at every possible location to restaurants, bars, bookshops, a gym, a Santander branch and even a grocery shop. All this is located right on campus.

Personally, one of my favourite parts is that Stratford Westfield is just one tube stop away. So girls, (and guys) you can shop your hearts out any time and any day.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the Sainsbury’s, Nandos, and Subway down the road, meaning you will never go hungry.

Drapers bar & kitchen

Drapers bar & kitchen

Much Love,



Holiday Away From Home

There are certain times of year when it’s harder to be away from family than usual. Holidays tend to be at the top of that list. One of the things I associate most with holidays is spending time with family. Combine not being with family on a holiday plus being in a country where that holiday isn’t even celebrated, and you’ve got Thanksgiving abroad.

This was the first time I have ever had class on Thanksgiving (and probably the only time I ever will). It’s also the first time I haven’t been with family for this holiday. Not being with the people I am most thankful for on a day designated for showing thankfulness was tough.

But it’s amazing how kind and warm people can be. I had a potluck Thanksgiving with some of the American friends I’ve made here. We laughed, shared stories, and made a surprisingly good dinner for a group of kids who have never made Thanksgiving dinner before. I also got a message from a British friend asking if I had somewhere to go for the holiday to make sure I wouldn’t have to be alone, and I tried to pass on this holiday spirit by inviting a classmate last minute when I found out he had nowhere to go.

Not being with family when you want to be with them most is hard, but friends can be family too. My friends certainly helped me start off a great holiday season, and they gave me plenty to be thankful for.


A Cup (or Two) a Day

I have asked several friends what amount of tea you can consume in a day before it becomes a problem. I’ve always been a tea drinker (unlike most Americans), but my daily tea intake has increased by about 200% since I came to London in September. I’m finally in a country where it’s not considered strange that I prefer tea to coffee, and I’m letting it get to me.IMG_0462

I see coffee as a wake-up drink: a grab it and go shot of caffeine. Tea, on the other hand, is the drink of relaxation. A nice hot mug as a relaxing start to the morning, a calming break in the afternoon, and a way to wind down at the end of the day. Amidst the chaos of classwork and travel and laundry and whatever else comes throughout the day, I always have a cup of tea to look forward to.

Out of deference to my love for tea, I’ve gone for a traditional afternoon tea once three times since I’ve been in London. The first was on my own a week after arriving (sounds odd, I know, but there’s something incredibly lovely about treating yourself). The second was with my parents at the Pump Room in Bath (highly recommended – not cheap, but much cheaper than a comparable tea in London). And finally, just for good measure, I went to the tea arranged by the study abroad office during Reading Week.


For you nay-saying coffee drinkers out there, you have to give tea a try while you’re in London. It’s a British tradition! Plus, when you drink it out of a fancy cup, you feel wonderfully classy 🙂

This is how I spent my weekend :)

Hi readers!

My name is Nia and this is my first entry 🙂

First of all, I shall assume that you guys know nothing about me and have no interest in me (sad but that’s fine) thus, I’m gonna introduce myself in this post and express my personality in future ones as well. So, here it goes! 😛

Basic: I’m currently in my 2nd year, studying Business Management. I’m an international student (from Vietnam, speaking Vietnamese :3) and it has now been my 4th year in London so far. I rented a private flat since year 1 and shared it with 2 other friends – both studying in Queen Mary as well. It takes me around 25 minutes to walk to uni but considering the wind, the rain and the future snow, I usually take the bus, which cost me only 12 minutes or so 🙂

But anyways…

The neon Glow fun run 2014


This picture above is how much fun I had with other QM Students last friday (17th, by the way, my weekend is prolonged thanks to a friday-off, muahahahah).

There were Glow sticks, Glow paint, UV lights and very very loud music!

Guess what…

*Drum roll*

I went to the Neon Glow Fun Run!!!!!!!! (not clubbing >:P haha)

Sorry if I disappointed you 🙂 I am a member of the QMSU Volunteer and I am also a one-day event team leader 😀 (Nia, remember!)
Last friday, there was an event called the Neon Glow fun run held in the Mile End Stadium. I was not leading this event but it was equally fun for me 🙂 We got a chance to do face painting for the runners (and for each other) prior to the run. What was said is that we, as marshals, can spray paint on the runners while they are running… It didn’t happen though… (I think it would if we asked) but instead, we could run and be sprayed ourselves (some of us did).

Dancing Glow Hunter

Then on sunday, I was the event leader for the Breakfast challenge (another volunteer opportunity). If you guys don’t know, the challenge is not for who can eat the most or who can eat the fastest xD but it’s about preparing and serving breakfast for the homeless at the Whitechapel mission. There were 7 of us (including me) meeting up outside the Mile End station at 5am on a sunday morning – how enthusiastic it sounds! For this occasion (and for the first time), the president of the Student Union – Dola Osilaja, joined our crew!
 I would quote the link of the 2 events’ photos once they are uploaded on the QMSU Volunteer Facebook webpage 🙂

But there are some photos I took that I can show you guys now, like this one:

Cooking sausages, bacons and eggs

Cooking sausages, bacons and eggs – Breakfast Challenge

Cleaning up

Cleaning up afterwards – Breakfast Challenge

Our work finished around 11:30am when the sun was up bright and shine – a beautiful sunday 😀
We volunteers all got on the bus and headed back to the Mile End station. My duty officially ended for the event <3

♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪

Some asked me why I do this sort of activities, I replied “why not?”.
Volunteering has different purpose/meaning to different people. It can be a mean of enhancing your cv, improving your soft skills, expanding your social network and so on and so forth. It does the same for me and I can see how useful and wonderful it is after each and every event I went to.
After quite sometime doing this (I started last year), I think the real reason why I enjoy volunteering is because of the benefit it raises for both parties. It’s good for me to volunteer as for the reasons above and it’s better off for the people I help through these fund-raising, care-giving through these events.
The bonus (+) for me it’s the satisfying feeling when I know I am doing something good and worthwhile  for the society :”> It is just a great feeling…

♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪

That’s it for this first entry of mine 🙂
Hope I didn’t exhaust your eyes!
Have a nice and productive week! See you guys next time 😛

(Bonus Picture – me and the staff at the Whitechapel mission)

The staff and the team leader

The staff and the team leader

Recap of the Last Few Weeks

Being in London for about a month and a half, I figured it was time for my first blog post.

So far, London has been a wonderful experience. My first few weeks were spent shopping, visiting markets and tourist spots, and of course keeping up with the academic life at QMUL. Unlike my classes in America, my modules here at QMUL meet less frequently, with each module meeting for essentially only 2 hours per week. In America, my classes typically met three times per week for one-hour lectures, with an additional one hour seminar per class. While taking four classes in America would translate to spending about sixteen hours per week in lectures/seminars, taking four classes at QMUL translates to spending only eight hours per week in the classroom. With more time outside the classroom, there are more expectations for independent studying. As an American student, I wasn’t used to this freedom for studying, but I’ve found that this laxity in scheduling teaches good productivity managing skills. For example, while I have much more time to spend exploring the city and participating in extracurricular activities, there is much more pressure to maintain responsibility for my studies outside of class, because if I don’t, my grades will obviously reflect it.

Anyways, aside from studying, here are some things I’ve done in London:

IMG_6176 IMG_6172 IMG_6167 IMG_6163

I visited the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Natural History Museum had cool stuff such as dinosaur bones and interactive displays involving human anatomy, while the V&A Museum had art and culture pieces.

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I also visited Shoreditch, which is about two miles away from campus. With its vintage markets, cultural food and enticing graffiti, Shoreditch is probably my favorite place in London.

IMG_6279 IMG_5983

Shopping in London was also a great experience. I still need to buy more winter clothes!

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Other things I’ve done include: visiting Chinatown, strolling by the park, eating fish and chips, trying pasta at Vapiano, participating in my first pub quiz, watching a show at a West End theatre, and walking by Piccadilly Circus!

The Price of London

There is no getting around it: living in London is expensive. If you compare the costs of living to some of the priciest areas in the US such as Manhattan, virtually everything is more expensive here. To give a rough estimate; imagine the price of any item in a Manhattan shop, reduce it by about 10% and then change the $ to a £. What with the current exchange rate of roughly $1.50/£1.00, everything in London is usually at least 35% pricier.

The most important thing that new students (or study abroad students) can do to cut costs is to learn to eat at home. And by that I most certainly do not mean buy pre-made or frozen meals and take them home. Eating out in London is extremely expensive, and while buying groceries here is also costlier than it is elsewhere, it is miles cheaper than dining out — even at the dozens of cheap halal chicken joints near campus.

The great thing about cooking is that the more effort you put in, not only do your dishes become more delicious, but you also gain a very valuable life skill. Also, the more ‘from scratch’ you are willing to make, the chances are the more you will save. I cooked for myself the semester before I came to QMUL as well, but my roommate back home was easily satisfied (pasta virtually every meal) so I never branched out that much when I was cooking for the both of us. (Also, the fact that dinner at my favourite food joint in town cost me $4.15 made eating out a bit more feasible.) This semester, though, I can count the dinners I have had out on one hand and I have taught myself to cook/bake a variety of new dishes — all from scratch. A brief sample of that list includes enchiladas; beer, cheese, and mustard pull-apart bread; honey-wheat bread; pancakes (and I mean American pancakes, not those slightly-thicker crepes that Brits eat when they ought to be celebrating Mardi Gras); mushroom ravioli; sundried-tomato alfedo sauce; cheesecake; and, most recently, chocolate-raspberry tarts (pictured below).


As a side note about the tarts, I made two batches, one with a digestives crust, one with a cream-cheese based crust. The cream-cheese crust was much easier to make, held form better, and cooled faster. All in all, I would suggest it over digestives for any small-form baking, though the same crust worked pretty well for my cheesecake earlier this semester.

Obviously, if you want to be as cheap as possible, making things like cheesecake or sundried-tomato alfredo sauce is not going to be on your itinerary. That being said, I can tell you that eating pasta every day gets old very, very fast. Well, at least for most of us. Either way, I eat pasta at most twice a week here, and always with some fresh vegetables involved in some way. It is a great way to learn a life-skill, stay healthy (ish), and save money all in one!

As a disclaimer, this is probably far from the last time I will extol the virtues of cooking at university; I think a run-down of the local shops, what is cheapest where, and an analysis of the pros/cons of ordering groceries online may be useful to anyone considering studying at QMUL. For now, though, I am off to a dinner party with my tarts!

-S. Quinlan Arlington 16-03-13


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