Fellow Beestonians! If, like me, you have no office to call your own, here are my top places to work in South Nottingham suburb and burgeoning hipster hangout, Beeston. Featuring top out-of-office spots for all your freelancing needs, be they good coffee, peace and quiet or just some decent WiFi…
When the library in Beeston turned its upper floor into a big open space flooded with pretty speedy WiFi, it became unexpectedly hip, complete with lime green walls and its own collection of keyboard tappers. I’ve become such a regular fixture here that staff are already reaching for a circuit breaker (for my laptop) when they see me coming. I like it because it reminds me of my mum, who worked here in the 90s and provided me with a near-constant flow of Nancy Drew books. There’s a lack of available food, obviously, but you are allowed to bring your own so long as it’s not a big hot mess, like chips and gravy. And you do have to get to know the timetable of group activities, otherwise you might find yourself sharing the space with a mum and baby music session (quite sweet background noise) or a homework club (not so sweet, and not so much homework, as far as I can tell). However, they do have instant coffee facilities.
Location: Foster Avenue, next to Roundhill School.
Pros: 60p lattes! Nice and quiet (sometimes). Cheapest place to work if you’re self-employed.
Cons: 60p lattes. No food. Really, really noisy (sometimes).
Original Beeston caffeine den, The Bean, does a lot of things right when it comes to out of office work space. A comfy, quiet area upstairs (despite some alarmingly squeaky stools), very good brews, a loyalty card and a nice ethical touch – you can ‘pay it forward’ by buying a coffee for someone who may really need it, whenever they need it. There is the slightly passive aggressive tone in the onscreen greeting, once you access their WiFi (along the lines of “if you think you’re getting away with buying one Flat White all afternoon, you’ve got another thing coming”) but all’s fair in the world of the coffice.
Location: Stoney St. Just up the road from Sainsburys.
Pros: They are pros at coffee-making.
Cons: Worrying about outstaying your welcome makes it slightly uncomfortable for working.
More of a meeting place for lunch than a freelancing hub, Rye nevertheless has a handy bar with stools by the window which is perfect for pretending to work whilst staring out at the good folk of Beeston. You can get a posh sandwich and chips for lunch, though the price tag (ciabattas from £6, plus £2.50 for fries) means you won’t be doing that everyday. However, there’s always the added bonus of its license to serve booze, a good enough excuse in my book for a cheeky mid-afternoon glass of red. Plus, it thoroughly deserves some audacity points for calling itself a ‘suave bistro’. You don’t get to work in a suave bistro if you’re a nine-to-fiver, oh no.
Location: High Road. Opposite the (pedestrianised) turn off for Sainsburys.
Pros: Good food. Alcohol served, for those difficult working days.
Cons: Not the cheapest cafe in Beeston. Crowded around lunch and post-work times.
Greenhood Coffee House
A trendy addition to the Beeston coffee scene, Greenhood is well set-up for the self-employed, judging by the number of meetings that were going on upstairs when I last went in. The surroundings are all shabby chic shelves and rustic tables, with a few splashes of greenery, while the various coffee-making methods takes some explaining, but the staff are happy to do it, and in a non-snobby fashion. Order one of the speciality filter coffees and you’ll get something that looks more like a fun science experiment and the kind of drink you are gently advised not to taint with milk (ie. you don’t get any). Throw in a cute work bench with a hidey-hole view over the neighbouring street and I’m happy to freelance from here for an afternoon.
Location: High Road, Beeston. Next to Poundland.
Pros: A scientific approach to coffee. Nice props.
Cons: Takes itself a wee bit seriously.
The University of Nottingham (various)
Sunny day? Why not stroll around the University of Nottingham’s lovely lakeside park, Highfields, on your lunch break or set up a temporary out-of-office office at the Pavillion Cafe, part of the Lakeside Arts Centre? They cater mostly for the cream tea crowd here at the weekend, but during the week, you can still get a decent brew with a view – from the boating lake up to the familiar chimney of the university’s Trent Building. Those in the know can also head up to the airy Trent Cafe, occupying the row of large ground floor windows overlooking the lake, in the same building. Of course, outsiders aren’t allowed on the WiFi (or possibly in the building at all: a friend who works there let me in) but it’s good to know you can still sneak in, if only to sample the pocket-friendly paninis and pretend you’re a student.
Location: University Boulevard. Has a tram stop at either end.
Pros: Choice of coffee places to work in. Pretty views.
Cons: The choice is generally between slightly touristy (Lakeside) or slightly canteeny (Trent Cafe).
Bonus newcomer: Odin’s Table
I visited for an afternoon the other day and felt that I’d sorely overlooked this charming Scandi cafe, since it also has WiFi and is very nice to work in. At only a couple of months old, it’s a relative newcomer on the Beeston scene, but the friendly couple who run it have cornered a cool niche of their own here – a rotating menu of Swedish home-cooking, rarely-seen imported European sweets and baked goods that smell of cinnamon and other lovely things. In fact, while I was typing, Sofia brought round a batch of marzipan pastries for all the customers to sample. That kind of cake-based bribery will get you everywhere with me.
Location: Top end of Beeston. Opposite Poppa Pizza and Two Little Magpies.
Pros: Free cake! (Not guaranteed.) Nice and homey.
Cons: Attracts (occasionally noisy) families.