Hannah Howard
Hannah Howard
New York City
I tell delicious stories

Cool NYC Places to Get Some Work Done

Or reading. Or studying. Or quiet time. In the city that never sleeps , there little nooks deliver essential, miraculous sanity. From the magnificent public library to picturesque public spaces to cafes where there is actually room for your butt and your laptop (totally rare in NYC), here are some places where you can pause and spend some time. As a NYC freelancer, I know!! Enjoy! 
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Maxs Cafe

1262 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

As a Columbia student, I spent a lot of time here curled up with books and notes. Don’t worry, it’s not overrun by rowdy students, though. It’s a slightly more sophisticated hang for graduate students and professors, with plenty of comfy couches and quiet nooks. It’s a little dark, but it’s cozy and mellow and they let you hang out for long stretches of time.

In the summer, you can sit outside. The service can be slow and spacy, but when your coffee or Italian food arrives, it’s absolutely good.

They’re open til after midnight, and in the evening you can sip a glass of wine while you study (or don’t study). They have yummy snacks and real food, too—panini, salads, pastry, tapas.

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New York Public Library

476 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

Wow! The stunning architecture never gets old. I’m a jaded New Yorker, and am still astounded by this place’s grand beauty. The NYPL is the second biggest library in the U.S after the Library of Congress in DC, but perhaps it wins for its gorgeousness. The ceiling murals are pretty breathtaking. And if the weather is nice, I love to hang out on the steps for some first-class people watching.

The main reading room and the catalog room are closed for construction, but readers and researchers still flock here. It is also a great place to study or do work. There are many reading rooms and nooks, so you’ll find a spot!

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McNally Jackson Books

52 Prince St, New York, 10012, United States

Bookstore heaven. In a city where cool, independent bookstores are dying a not so slow death, this is a wonderful place that I’m so happy exists. Two floors of books, arty and funky and otherwise. And so many magazines! Plus small-run hard-to-find printed things and eclectic reads. There is definitely an upscale, SoHo feel.

Everything is carefully curated, pretty, and impeccably placed. There are lots of nooks to sit and relax, and a café with ample seating. The coffee is solid and they have a great selection of loose-leaf tea. They also have a really cool event series full of luminaries and literary big-deals across genres.

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The Chipped Cup

3610 Broadway, Lower Level, New York City, NY

Coffee shop happiness! And plenty of comfy seats, tables, and couches, and a picturesque little garden outside. The most important thing about a coffee shop to hang out and do work in is a pleasant, happy energy, and this place is just full of lovely vibes and a coy neighborhood feel—even though it’s tucked down in a Harlem basement.

The espresso here is not messing around, and the Counter Culture coffee is delish. They also make awesome iced tea, and a cool hot tea list including coconut oolong, tangerine ginger and iced blueberry. Free wifi. The place can get crowded, but usually not insanely so.

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Grounded Organic Coffee & Tea House

28 Jane Street, New York City, NY 10014

Grounded really does feel grounded…totally un-chainy, real, and down to earth. They support local farms and use only organic ingredients. Everyone is friendly, and the vibe is very comfy, cozy, and relaxed. There are lots of plants, and bookshelves brimming with a whole lot of books and some random knick-knacks…like sitting in someone’s funky garden. There’s free wi-fi, and enough tables to sit and work/read…or even work on a group project or catch up with friends.

Their chai tea latte is pretty awesome, as is their long tea list. They make a nutella latte which is pretty ridiculously yummy, and bunch of other custom drinks. Many vegan goodies, too!

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Cafe Jax

e 10028, 318 East 84th Street, New York, NY 10028

I was so excited to discover this place while randomly walking around this sleepy block on the Upper East Side. Very cool art on the walls, splashy animal print rugs, and vintage furniture including ample comfy couches, chairs, and tables. Plenty of places to sit, especially in the sprawling downstairs section.

They brew Stumptown Coffee—serious coffee people, rejoice. There are plenty of gluten free options, and the granola is spot on. The bacon cheddar scone is great, and they don’t skimp on the bacon.

Everyone who works here seems unusually nice, and it’s a really comfortable place to hang out and get some reading or work done. Diverse crowd. Great energy.

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Cafe Lalo

201 W 83rd St, New York, NY 10024

Look familiar? This is the spot from You've Got Mail. But it’s also a sunny, spacious, happy place on the UWS to relax or catch up or get some work done.

The service can be lackadaisically slow…I feel for the servers who have to wear ballerina-esque tights with their Café Lalo t-shirts.

They have a really giant menu with so much to choose from! It’s overwhelming, on the other hand, you can get whatever you like. I love the Lalo salad, with pine nuts and sautéed mushrooms and avocado. Yum. Ogle the sweets behind the glass—the amount of cakes, pies, cookies, and so much more is a bit dizzying. Many are really good, too, but some are disappointing—it’s always sort of a gamble.

This place is usually mellow during the day, and it’s a great place to camp out with a book or your laptop.

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French Roast Cafe Uptown

2340 Broadway, New York City, NY 10024-3202

This quintessential Upper West Side establishment is bright with plenty of large windows. It gets mobbed during brunch—but come during off-peak hours and this is a great place to camp out with work or a book.

The café au laits are the stuff of legend—big bowls of coffee and steamy milk. Yum. The perfect work companion. They have plenty of cffeinated/noncaffeinated and alcoholic/nonalcoholic drinks, plus a full menu. Their omelets are lovely and fluffy; I’m a fan of their salads, too.

It’s amazingly open 24 hours, so if you’re a midnight (or 2 AM, or 4 AM writer)…this is the place for you! Reasonably priced, comfy, tasty, pleasant…yes!

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Kaffe 1668

275 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007

There's plenty of seating with a few pretty wood tables on ground level and more in the basement. There’s plenty of space to spread out and study or read.

The lattes are smooth and delicious, with the expert barristas often doing some cool foam art. Hot chocolate is rich as can be, but somehow still balanced. They have a long list of coffee from different places—you can pick the origin of your brew. Coffee snobs will be right at home. I tried the Ethiopia, Idido Yirgacheffe, which has notes of floral jasmine and sweet citrus. Pretty cool.
The music is nice and mellow, and they have a decorative motif of sheep which I’ll about. Plus they have a giant projector and sometimes show films. This coffee shop absolutely wins.

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Ace Hotel New York

20 West 29th Street, at Broadway, New York City, NY 10001

This is a good place to sit and chill out in Midtown/Flatiron. During the day, there are tons of people doing work—I’ve even had some impromptu professional networking success here. At night, it gets more of a party vibe, and they have a DJ spinning. (Also fancy, pricy, and yummy drinks). It has a bit of a see-and-be-seen, hipper-than-thou feeling. Trendiness is ON. The nighttime can feel like a fashion show.

I like working here, when I can find a spot—it gets crowded. There are plush, comfy couches, and tables with chairs as well. The coffee is great. The lighting is dim, but WiFi is free.

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Vineapple Cafe

71 Pineapple St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

This place is lovely, and it’s super conducive to work and studying. Plenty of people on laptops and reading, and long picnic style tables and comfy chairs for spacious options. So much space in NYC is totally revolutionary.

It's hidden enough so it feels like a secret, yet it's also located near several subway stops, so it's convenient. Best of both worlds.

They brew Stumptown—the coffee is very good. They get their pastries from Colson Patisserie, and they are no joke. The bagels are also total bagel happiness. Big tea selection, hip/great music, and a relaxed and bookish vibe. The staff are friendly, and the barristas are fast. At night, they serve wine (and beer), hence the name.

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Black Brick Coffee

300 S Bedford, Brooklyn, NY 11211

They serve Stumptown and donuts from Dough (the best universe’s best donuts. Don’t believe me? Try one.) The cookies are also awesome, as is their French press. They have vegan and gluten-free goodies, if that’s your jam, and cold brew all year long.

It’s a little dim and grungy, in a way that feels totally intentional and Brooklyn-esque. The music can err on the loud side for working, but there are lots of long benches and a low, comfy couch in the back to sit with your laptop. They have a “computer-free” section up front if it’s just you, sans laptop. It gets crowded. Of course. It's Bedford Ave.

The baristas are really friendly and the energy is relaxed and cozy.

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Manhattanville Coffee

142 Edgecombe Ave, New York City, NY 10030

This Hamilton Heights/Halrem area is getting cool, slowly but surely. Manhattanville Coffee is proof. It has all the pretty coffee shop décor: exposed brick wall, comfy couches, sleek wood furniture, a communal table (and individual nooks and tables, too), high ceilings. The walls are all windows, looking out onto the street. Very modern and welcoming,

They brew Intelligentsia coffee, and serve lots of pastries—their almond blueberry muffin is way better than standard café fare, and their bagels are totally respectable. Ginger Plum iced tea is absolutely refreshing and delicious.

It gets crowded, but I’ve had luck finding a spot. Love the playlist—upbeat with some nostalgia thrown in. Big plus for coffee shop workers: Free WiFi and plenty of outlets.

Last updated at Sep 19, 2017