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My 5 favorite best laptop friendly public spaces in NYC that I recommend for visitors or locals

By Stephon
Nov. 10, 2018 | Updated May 7, 2019



Ace Hotel NYC lobby laptops

People using the open work space in the lobby of the Ace Hotel in Manhattan's Flatiron District.

I prefer a bit of contrast between where I live and where I work, as such, I am not a big fan of doing work while at home. On the other hand, I don't have a traditional office at the moment, so I have become creative in finding public spaces (cafes, coffee shops, bars, etc.) to get work done outside of my apartment.

Finding places to get work done in an unfamiliar city.

I also love to travel. Often, when I'm traveling, I also try to get work done, which will require me to spend time researching laptop friendly public spaces in unfamiliar cities. I know how finding where to go in a new city can turn into a time-consuming project in itself. I’ve had some successes in places like London, Berlin, and San Francisco, and I hope to write about those soon. But I live in New York, and this is to help out those visitors to NYC, by letting you in on some of my favorite laptop friendly coffee shops and other public spaces for working. If you’re visiting New York City, or you live here, and you are searching for good public spaces to work, hopefully this helps!

How to judge work friendly public spaces

Let's first set the criteria for a laptop friendly public space. When I'm looking for places to work, in order of importance, I care about the following:
  1. Am I implicitly or explicitly pressured to leave within a certain amount of time? As a rule of thumb, I will not include any places where I have felt even remotely pressured to leave within a certain amount of time.
  2. Location
  3. Availability of power outlets
  4. Quality of Wi-Fi
  5. Aesthetic qualities/comfortableness of the environment
  6. Quality of the food and coffee
Next, let me give a couple of disclaimers: Author's note: This list has grown since it was originally published, and is now quite longer than five. I will continue to add to it as I come across quality working spaces that fit the criteria.

Without further ado, my list of friendly public places to do work in New York City:

Spreadhouse Café

Neighborhood: Lower East Side, Manhattan Address: 116 Suffolk Street, New York, NY Spreadhouse is my favorite place to work between midtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Spreadhouse is a production company based in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. They converted much of their company space into a café. The space is set up specifically for people like me who are looking for a work space, a little buzz of activity, good wi-fi, and access to power outlets. The review: Cons: Some seating can become uncomfortable after sitting for a stretch of time. Also, there is only one restroom and it is unisex, so a line will often form for it during busy periods.

Lobby of the Ace Hotel

Neighborhood: Flatiron District, Manhattan Address: 20 W 29th Street, New York, NY It might sound a little weird to sit around in a hotel lobby with your laptop all day, but this is one of the best laptop friendly places that I've found in/near Midtown Manhattan. The review: Cons: This place gets the most crowded of any laptop friendly space on this list, so be prepared to linger for a bit to find a good spot. Additionally, outside food is not allowed, and food from the Breslin is a little pricey. If you're on a budget, eat before you get there! Finally, it gets loud later in the evening when the Breslin's Happy Hour starts. But that's nothing a paid of noise-cancelling headphones can't fix.

Outpost Café

Neighborhood: Clinton Hill/Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Address: 1014 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY This very laptop friendly place has a dedicated customer base, many of whom are laptop warriors who live in the neighborhood. Don’t be surprised if it feels like everyone here knows each other, because many of them do. But even if you don’t know anyone, it is a very easy place to sit down and become invisible as you get some work done. It is also one of the most eclectic places I have ever seen, and it is probably worth visiting for that reason alone. The review: Cons: While the playlist is always good, the music can be loud depending on who is working that day.

Breukelen Coffee House

Neighborhood: Crown Heights, Brooklyn Address: 764 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Breukelen is a no frills coffee shop. The staff is friendly and make good coffee. The food menu is pretty sparse, so I don’t recommend coming here hungry. The review: Cons: Other than Wi-Fi issues, there is the relatively early closing time (6 pm).

Manhattanville Coffee - Crown Heights

Neighborhood: Crown Heights, Brooklyn Address: 167 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn, NY This location is the Brooklyn outpost of the original Manhattanville Coffee that is located in the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Manhattanville. Manhattanville Coffee, like Breukelen Coffee House, is a pretty basic coffee shop. Manhattanville and Breukelen are located just a couple of blocks from each other in Crown Heights, and I tend to use Manhattanville as my backup to Breukelen - i.e. when it's closed, too crowded, or having dramatic Wi-Fi issues - since Breukelen is closer to where I live. The review: Cons: Other than what has already been said, it is probably hard to get here if you're not in Crown Heights. It is also closed on Saturdays. And that's my top 5! However, while putting together this list, I thought about a couple of other good, potentially overlooked, ideas for laptop friendly public spaces that are worth mentioning. Here are a couple of bonuses:

Science, Industry and Business Library – New York Public Library

Neighborhood: Midtown East, Manhattan Address: 188 Madison Avenue, New York, NY This is an under-utilized resource for laptop warriors seeking laptop friendly public work places. The space is modern and it is conveniently located near the Empire State Building. It is open to anyone, whether you are a New York City resident or not. But if you want to check out material from the library, you will need to be a NYC resident with a valid library card. The review: Cons: Since it is a library, and thus it is a public space, it is a little popular with some of the city's homeless population that don't have many options on places to go. Typically, they will not cause trouble, as they are just there to get shelter from the elements. If there is trouble, the staff usually handles it quickly.

Free days in a co-working space!

Various areas -- Manhattan and Brooklyn Either I’m very late to this idea or very early, but recently I have discovered that a great way to find places to work is to sign up for the newsletters of the co-working spaces in NYC. One that I have taken advantage of several times is Alley HQ, which periodically has open co-working days at their location in Chelsea (great space, btw!). I’m sure others like Spaces also do so too. If you’re planning to move to NYC and start a company, this could be a good way to test drive a few places. That's it from me now. Again, if you have a laptop friendly place that you'd like to share, please shout it out in the comments!

A/D/O

Neighborhood: Greenpoint, Brooklyn Address: 29 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn, NY This is my new favorite space laptop friendly public work place. It is a co-working space for creative industries that has a free open area for freelancers, entrepreneurs, creatives, etc., to work during the day. The space is sponsored by Mini USA - the car company - and is located in the burgeoning tech corridor being established in North Brooklyn and the western edge of Queens (also known as Amazon's new home). The review: Cons: The location can be a huge deterrent, but it is really worth the trek. Stephon

Stephon Owens is the Founder and CEO of Vezpuchi.

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