The UK’s best clubs, hubs and co-work spaces for entrepreneurs
Looking for a place to work, meet, network – or even relax – away from the home or office? Here are some great places to start
Where do entrepreneurs, freelancers, and start-ups hang out? Membership clubs for business owners have been on the rise for a few years now, with mobile working and having a base in the city for meetings, lunches, working in peace, plus events proving enticing – and a necessity.
A while back there wasn’t much beyond the – sadly – now defunct Adam Street, with its bar, restaurant, library, gallery, and event space as a go-to place for London’s entrepreneurial community. Open plan co-work environments were rare and unlikely to stimulate creative thinking.
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But with mobile technology there’s been a dramatic increase in co-work spaces, hubs, co-work offices, and café culture working. The list and regional spread of these places is near-endless.
There’s still plenty of ‘beige’ serviced offices, but business owners and independent professionals who have achieved a degree of success and no longer work from home are looking for more comfortable environs with a hint of life and style.
Whether it’s to work, collaborate, use the wrap-around comfort of on-hand services such as concierge, restaurant quality food, and even a place to rest or refresh yourself, or just hang out and appreciate the art, we’ve identified some places to go. Each one offers something different and we’ll keep adding to this list, so do get in touch if we’ve missed some. But for starters why not consider:
One Alfred Place
Location: London, Fitzrovia
Membership price: £1,300 excl. VAT for 12 months (120 visits)
If you’re looking for prestige as an entrepreneur, you could do worse than One Alfred Place. With an enviable location in the West End, all the latest mod cons, and a limited membership policy, this is one for businesses looking to make a real impact. The site offers 10,000 sq. ft. of co-working space, workstations and boardrooms, in addition to a swanky restaurant and bar, locker and shower facilities, and PA support. One Alfred Place also runs regular events for its members, teaching valuable business skills and offering opportunity for networking and collaboration. To apply for membership, you need to be proposed by an existing member – contact the venue to arrange a meeting with one.
Location: London, Fitzrovia and Mayfair
Membership price: £1,875 per year (access 1-2 days a week), £2,750 per year (unlimited access)
Another prestigious start-up space in the heart of London, The Clubhouse has two high-end offices on Grafton St and Grosvenor Square, both of which offer co-working space, meeting rooms, hot desking and lounge services. In keeping with its high-end offering, members also gain access to a number of additional perks including a premium concierge service, lockers, charging facilities and showers, and virtual office/virtual PA services. Collaboration is provided through a regular programme of events and talks for members, in addition to a newly-launched online platform allowing members to exchange ideas and find opportunity for collaboration remotely.
Location: London and Manchester
Membership price: £99 for Club membership, £499 for Resident membership
Startups’ readers should be familiar with Central Working, which has picked up various gongs including our Service Business of the Year 2013 award. Its key advantage from a start-up’s point of view is flexibility; unlike some other co-working spaces, there are no leases or long-term contracts tying you down, so you can focus on growth and collaboration. Central Working’s dedicated team also works with your business to actively facilitate connections with other member businesses, taking the legwork away from the onerous process of networking. With three sites in the sought-after London locations of Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Bloomsbury, a new Central Working has found its home in Manchester’s Deansgate.
Location: London (sites at Old Street, Bevenden Street, Hackney Wick, London Fields)
Membership price: Prices on application
A hub targeted at tech and creative businesses, The Trampery’s expansion to four sites across London has coincided with the growth of tech more generally. Each site offers co-working space, collaboration and events tailored to the particular demographic it serves. The Trampery’s flagship address at Old Street acts as the global anchor location for a Publicis Worldwide partnership to promote connections between corporates and tech entrepreneurs, meaning you should find a good range of networking opportunities as a start-up. In contrast, The Trampery’s Hackney Wick site focuses on start-ups which fuse technology and the arts in their offerings, such as film and music businesses. As well as modern co-working space and meeting rooms, The Trampery offers its members access to a regular programme of events through its Incubator Programme – these include peer-to-peer learning, workshops, expert talks, and meetups.
Location: Worldwide (UK sites in Islington, Kings Cross and Westminster)
Membership price: From £20 per month (virtual membership) to £475 per month (unlimited access)
Touting itself as an innovation lab, business incubator and social enterprise community centre all at once, Impact Hub places a great emphasis on collaboration – and with more than 9,000 members across the globe, you certainly won’t find yourself at a loss for opportunities to do so. The hub boasts 58 sites across five continents, with guidance, resources and opportunities shared across the whole network. Impact Hub’s members also gain access to a regular programme of events and business development programmes to help take their businesses to the next level. As a member, you also become part of HUBnet – Impact’s global social network which provides a platform for its businesses to collaborate. Membership is offered on a tiered basis, with pricing dependent on level of access and the size of your business.
Location: Europe and India (UK sites in London and Swansea)
Membership price: £375 excl. VAT per year (flex membership), £275 excl. VAT per month (resident membership)
A sector-specific space, TechHub was established as a nurturing environment for the growing number of tech start-ups across Europe, and its pedigree in this industry is arguably unrivalled. Its sites offer co-working space with all the mod cons you’d expect including free Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, and – some would say crucially – unlimited tea and toast. TechHub’s tight-knit community of businesses is one of its major selling points, and tech start-ups should find ample opportunity for collaboration and networking. The company runs regular events including Demo Night, in which start-ups showcase their products, talks by successful founders at Founder’s Secrets, and a couple of events in which start-ups can find interns or co-founders. TechHub will also help to get your start-up out there by promoting you to its army of social media followers and press contacts.
Location: London, Hackney Wick
Membership Price: From £180 – £200 per month
With tenants that include film-makers, designers and architects, 90 Mainyard fits comfortably with the creative revival of Hackney Wick as a thriving arts community. This is also reflected in a calendar of social events that aren’t all focused on business with live music, film screenings, art exhibitions and quiz nights. Although not the most glamorous of London’s co-working spaces, the team have a socially conscious directive through community bonds and business support; and creating a working atmosphere that proactively encourages building strong relationships with the people around you – to grow through collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Free Wi-Fi is included and £180 per month gets you a dedicated desk, free meeting room use and 24/7 access to all facilities. And if you’re not sure whether co-working is for you, prospective members are able to attend a free trial day – Just bring your laptop and a ‘smile’.
Membership Price: Costs vary. Smallest units start from £300+VAT per month
Part of the renaissance of the Liverpool Dock area as a cultural home for the digital and creative industries, Baltic Creative lets out regenerated multifunctional warehouse spaces to a variety of innovative and commercial tenants. The company own and manage all its buildings and as a CIC ensure all surpluses are reinvested to support and improve the sector. The spaces offered range from garden shed style studios in the ‘creative campus’ to window-fronted shop studios and various larger indoor studios. It’s clear the company is more than just a co-workspace, being concerned with and involved in the reputation of its customers and promoting sustainable and environmentally responsible practices; it also hosts a range of educational talks, courses and networking opportunities in a variety of sectors.
Location: Manchester, Hulme
Membership price: From £147 per month (£105 for Members)
This Manchester-based members’ co-operative of freelance writers, artists and small businesses accepts applicants that follow socially and environmentally conscious business practices. Price reductions are available to members who pitch in with the daily running and management, ensuring OpenSpace remains a collaborative community of like-minded individuals. Offering limited but essential facilities such as Wi-Fi broadband, printing and a meeting space – this is an excellent option for burgeoning start-ups or creative individuals looking for a friendly and affordable working environment. According to OpenSpace, members and tenants are on hand to offer advice, share tips and have even been known to hire each other. Although it doesn’t take one-off hotdesk bookings, the space offers flexible part-time packages as well as full-time desks for £147 a month.
Membership Price: From £100 per month to £400+VAT per month
Capitalising on Newcastle’s strong tech community is Campus North, a hive of over 150 designers, developers and founders. Along with its Newcastle and UK based partners, the company is committed to helping early stage technology start-ups grow and realise their visions, claiming it’s all about community and encouraging members to collaborate, inspire and work together. Campus North also finds time to nurture the future of the tech start-up industry by being the regional coordinator for code club, a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. The space offers a variety of packages to suit different needs – from £100 per month hotdesking to £160 per month co-working for small start ups and £400 private office space for fully fledged businesses.
Membership Price: Full and associate membership options on request
The Talent Navigator Enterprise Hub is reader-recommended and was created to support businesses from Walsall, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, and Dudley. Promising a ‘stimulating and high-quality co-working business environment’, the hub has 1,880 sq. ft. of space and offers open-plan desk space, mentoring, and training facilities, for full or associate members. Members are eligible for sponsorship from local organisations and initiatives, with a handful of grant-funded memberships available. It holds regular events on topics such as video making, becoming a social entrepreneur, intellectual property, funding, and an introduction to enterprise from charity the Prince’s Trust. Standard facilities include Wi-Fi, a ‘visualisation screen’, and kitchen access. But for Talent Navigator flexibility is the watchword with its key aim being to help members’ ideas and businesses grow.
Locations: London, Leeds
Membership Price: Costs vary according to space required
Designed in response to the way work is changing and tailored to the needs of start-ups, freelancers, small businesses and mobile workers is ClubRooms – a network of flexible and carefully designed drop-in office spaces in key business and transport locations across the UK. What sets this company apart from the competition is its focus on design, working with great architects on not just the aesthetics of the space, but how it functions and the way it stimulates its users. Every need is catered for with private and semi-private booths, open tables and even presentation spaces that seat 75. Most of ClubRooms’ locations are in key transport links, allowing users to reduce travel time and their carbon footprint. There is also the option to use the buildings as your personal business address and a call handling service. With everything from established law firms to brand new tech start-ups using the buildings, and with a host of members’ events, this is a great place for businesses of any size to grow and reap the benefits of co-working.
Location: London (sites at Shoreditch, Angel, City, Putney, Borough)
Membership Price: From £450+VAT per desk per month
Boasting ‘Big Office’ facilities with ‘small office’ prices, Co-Work offers shared workspace for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses at five enviable London locations. Prices vary depending on location, with £699+VAT per desk per month the priciest in the City, down to £450+VAT in Putney. The not inconsiderable price difference is purely a product of the desirability of the location as all five share identical facilities, but the spaces are simple, modern, bright and arguably among the most stylish in London. Other than an ‘ergonomic chair’ and the obvious – fast broadband, printing, meeting spaces – Co-work doesn’t offer anything particularly unique, but rather focuses on doing the essentials exceptionally. With just one-month minimum stay, no deposit required and all inclusive costs, the company claims to help its customers focus on what’s really important, growing their businesses.
Membership Price: £10 per day – £150 per month
Unlike its more business-like and office based contemporaries DoES Liverpool is home to artists and makers and hardware engineers, meaning it is fully kitted out with materials, tools and design tech hardware. Alongside the standard co-work facilities the space has a fully functioning workshop including 3D printers, a vacuum former, A CNC mill and laser cutters – all of which can be accessed for just £10 a day. However, the company also offers highly flexible and non-committal hotdesking opportunities from just £5 for a half day – giving you access to fast internet, free tea and coffee and a fully equipped kitchen – to £150 per month. The space is open for a full working day 9.30am to 5.30pm but also doubles up as an event hub, hosting nights that range from a sewing club to laser cutter evenings. The company is keen to stress it is a non-for-profit Community Interest Company, meaning any money it does make is used to help the community by buying kit or improving the space.
Membership price: From £60 – £200 per month
Converted from a 2,000 sq ft Victorian Warehouse in the city centre, Fruitworks is Canterbury’s first and only co-working space. After lovingly restoring the building themselves in 2011, the passion for this project from Liam Gooding and his colleagues at Fruitbowl Media is clear in all aspects of this truly unique space. Being mostly a community of tech start-ups, Fruitworks seems to have been inspired by the Silicon Valley school of office space offering its users a “Google inspired” chill-out area complete with a fully-stocked beer fridge, pool table, ping-pong table and a 100” cinema/gaming screen. But with a busy calendar of networking and workshop events, the focus is clearly on helping start-ups and small businesses grow and thrive through collaboration and innovation. As well as superfast Wi-Fi, a meeting space and unlimited free tea and coffee, Fruitworks goes one step further with unlimited free cereal and fruit. To top it off all this is offered at a very reasonable £200 per month for unlimited access and £60 for two days a week.
Membership Price: From £79 per desk per week
Offering stylish and comfortable state of the art business facilities in the heart of Battersea is Le Bureau. Just a 10-minute walk from Waterloo, Victoria and Sloane square this co-work space is perfect for self employed individuals and small businesses who want a professional but relaxed environment to work in. Working out at £400 per month, this isn’t the cheapest option for renting office space, but its price is reflective of its excellent facilities and amenities. The standard mod-cons are all present – free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee, printing – as well as an innovative scent diffusion system which circulates essential oils – proven to maximise workplace productivity, ergonomic chairs and secure storage. The space also boasts a 600 DVD film library, pool and football table and bar/café. There is no joining fee, one monthly rate, no deposit, no hidden extras and a one-month minimum contract; Le Bureau represents an excellent option for the individual or start-up that’s already growing and wants to be around like-minded entrepreneurs.
Membership Price: £10 per day to £100 per month
In the heart of Edinburgh’s rapidly developing start-up scene, TechCube offers affordable office space, services and community support for tech start-ups. Following in the traditions of the great city in which it is based, the company hopes to blur the line between science and culture, creating an environment where art and technology come together and benefit each other. As well as the usual public workspaces and meeting rooms, the building features a social and ‘break-out’ space and roof terrace. Clearly committed to giving smaller start-ups every opportunity to grow, the price of office space is based on a flexible tiered system. Applicants are assessed so that a pre-money start-up will pay less than one turning profit. And with a year-round programme of community events geared towards sharing knowledge, this is a great place for start-up businesses to help each other, thrive and grow. Space is in very high demand, but if you’re not initially successful you can sign up to the mailing list to be kept in touch with availability.
Location: London, Old Street
Membership Price: £315 – £350 per month
As the name suggests, TechSpace is aimed solely at providing London’s tech start-up community with flexible working environments to co-work and collaborate. Based in three central London locations around Old Street the tenants range from app and game developers to film-makers and marketing companies. A partnership with Lammhults furniture designers ensures all three locations are stylish and comfortable with a creative atmosphere that lends itself to its occupation. Fast Wi-Fi, free tea and coffee and break-out areas are present as standard but table tennis seems to be the key feature of life at TechSpace with the website warning that, ‘no game is taken lightly’. With the exception of £315+VAT per month on the lower ground floor at Bath St, a permanent desk can be had at all three locations for £350+VAT with prices for private offices for up to eight available upon application. A reasonable price in comparison to other central London co-working spaces although one-month deposit and a notice period is required.
Membership Price: From £100 per month
Less than two minutes’ walk from Wimbledon Mainline Station and the District Line, Wimbletech advertises itself as a home for start-ups, co-workers, a garage for ‘hackathons’ and an innovation hub. With fixed or flexi hotdesking options from just £100 a month, it is not the most luxurious of co-working spaces but for a London postcode it represents phenomenally good value; and has all the standard facilities you’d expect, including fast Wi-Fi, a chill space and a fully equipped kitchen. The Tech Campus is proud of its status as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in the borough of Merton, creating income, jobs and helping local entrepreneurs learn skills, innovate and hopefully extend relationships beyond those they form at work to the community at large. Wimbletech hosts fortnightly ‘hackathons’ where programmers come together to collaborate on software projects – and aim to start running ‘Little Hacker’ events, to teach children computing skills and prepare them for a future that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology.
Or, if you’re looking for somewhere a little cheaper, convenient, and UK-wide
Regus Business Lounge
Membership price: From £39 per month
If you travel frequently as an entrepreneur, Regus’ network of Business Lounges might represent the most convenient option. Lounges are available in major city centres, transport hubs such as airports, and even in an increasing number of motorway service stations, following a major deal with Roadchef. As a member, you will gain access to fully-appointed co-working space with free Wi-Fi, print facilities, dedicated administrative support, and extra privacy at private ThinkPod desks. The trade-off from Regus’ unrivalled reach is a somewhat limited infrastructure for collaboration between start-ups, and the company doesn’t host a regular programme of events either.
We’d also give an honourable mention to creative industry clubs such as Soho House and The Hospital Club, which both offer excellent collaboration opportunities for creative and media start-ups, but cater to larger organisations as well.
Membership price: £349 + VAT per month
Another London based co-work space dedicated to supporting early stage tech start-ups, situated in St Katharine’s Dock, and a stone’s throw from Shoreditch. It offers more than 230 fixed or rented seats with superfast WiFi, six retro arcade game themed meeting rooms and a 150 capacity event space. With an enviable position overlooking the marina – which is currently being developed into a modern tech hub – the space is already home to 2300 members and strongly encourages collaboration and creativity. As well as the standard mod cons it also features 8 ‘Skype Pods’ and multiple break out areas with video games and table football. Teams that apply for space are interviewed to see their potential with desks available for £349 + VAT per month.
The Melting Pot
Membership price: Pay-as-you-go to £370 unlimited 24/7 access
With an unwavering focus on Social Innovation, The Melting Pot has a clear and admirable MO: To bring together people and businesses committed to transforming the social, cultural and economic landscape for the better. This ethos is evident in everything they do – from their city centre ‘eco-smart’ office to an impressive roster of educational and social, community building events. These are hosted by members, for members, but are also open to the general public. As well as the obligatory free wi-fi and a range of workshop, meeting and private spaces, TMP includes a fully equipped kitchen, shower facilities and all the free tea and coffee you need to power you through your socially conscious endeavors – fair trade of course.
Membership price: £195 + VAT per month to hot desk, £295 + VAT per month for a private desk, offices from £895 + VAT per month
With three grade II listed Bloomsbury locations a short walk from Tottenham Court Road and Holborn tube stations, Rentadesk offers everything from hot desking at £195, to private desks at £295 per month and offices at £895 per month, for a minimum subscription period of three months. The space is a broad church, catering for software developers, graphic designers, journalists, architects and even traders, with tenants enjoying free internet, free snacks and free meeting areas. If you need to pull an all-nighter, Rentadesk is open 24/7 365 days a year and even has a membership specifically for night owls. You can also change your level of subscription at any time of you scale your business or your circumstances change, but one month’s notice must be given if you plan to leave.