A review of the London Review Bookshop’s cake shop in Bloomsbury, a block from the British Museum. Perspectives come with a digital nomad on the hunt for friendly places that are remote work friendly and serve good coffee.

Cafe Overview:

british museum cafe

Look for a bookshop by the British Museum in Bloomsbury — Photo by Athena Lam

It is fitting that the London Review bookshop still has a claim in the corner of London where Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, and E. M. Forster — the better known members of the Bloomsbury Group — once congregated. I must also add that Arthur Waley, one of the most influential British Sinologists, was also a part of this group. But it was history, rather than literature, that was on my mind on the summer afternoon I dropped by this establishment.

russell square cafe

The London Review Bookshop cafe is called the “cake shop” was using Monmouth Coffee beans when I went — Photo by Athena Lam

That day, I was seeing a friend who was remote working at the cafe — one of her regular hide outs as a graduate student in another respected academic institution just beside the British Museum: the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Immersed in her writing, she probably never noticed how, ahem, cozy the cake shop was. Clearly, despite the limited space, the staff didn’t seem to mind the academically inclined hanging around with their newspapers, readings, and laptops. Wi-Fi isn’t available, but they made a quiet work corner with a plug for the lucky remote worker who could claim it.

russell square cafe

The cafe has nice homey cakes and an afternoon tea set — Photo by Athena Lam

When I arrived after a brief walk through the British Museum, my friend had already finished her cake. But she recommended virtually every pastry item on the menu as I looked through. I finally settled on a pistachio rose-icing cake to go with my latte. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of coffee given that this was a decidedly British bookshop, but I was pleasantly surprised by the latte art and the extraction. The London Review Bookshop has served two of my most respected roasters in London: Workshop Coffee and Monmouth Coffee.

The cake that it came with was fragrant and flavourful. The pistachios added body to the icing and texture to the soft sponge.

As my friend and I sat catching up, the lady who was crammed into the window corner beside me wrapped up her work and we had to get up to let her out. The groups of two who came in to chat couldn’t fill that spot, so I took a photo to remember the remote work corner for future reference.

russell square cafe

One remote work corner spot with plugs — Photo by Athena Lam

Their Story / What I like About Them:

british museum cafe

The entrance to the cafe is through the bookshop — Photo by Athena Lam

As the name suggests, the London Review of Books opened a store that could house the books it recommended. Despite the classical wooden storefront, the shop opened as recently as 2003. The cafe is actually called the cake shop and to get there, you must walk through the bookshop entrance.

The shop is not big, but it is home to 20,000+ titles that include world literature, contemporary fiction and poetry, history, cooking, essays, history, and politics. While I don’t want to encourage buying books just for the sake of having something to hold while sipping your coffee, I do recommend taking a pause at the doorway.

After racing through central London, and down the bustling entrance outside the British Museum, my first instinct was to charge into the cake shop for my late appointment. But with the table of books greeting me just at the doorway, I couldn’t help but pick up a cover. After scanning a few, my mind became as serene as the shop. As I strolled through the open archway to the cake shop, it felt like I had walked home into a warm living room.

And if you want to stay for longer than just a coffee, the cake shop has a seasonal menu of salads and creative lunch options inspired by a chef from Australia.

afternoon tea british museum

What is a cake set without some bubbly in the summer? — Photo by Athena Lam

Good For:

  • Coffee: Espresso, tea
  • Food: light pastries, cakes, lunch
  • Cafe Space: Approx 20 people
  • Friends: Good for a quiet catch up
  • Workspace: Individual tables, one big square table, and one corner working spot
  • Remote Work: 1-2 plugs in a corner, but no Wi-Fi
Address:   14-16 Bury Pl, Bloomsbury, London WC1A 2JL, UK
Website:   Website
Hours: Mondays – Saturdays: 10:00 – 18:30
Sundays: 12:00 – 18:00

If you liked this post, check out my coffee walk through Soho and Fritzrovia!

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