In December we reluctantly peeled ourselves off the beaches of Koh Phangan in search of the zest of city life. Arriving in Hanoi, Vietnam we were in for a shock. Swarms of scooters ruled the streets and in the old quarter, people, food and animals spilled out of hole-in-the-wall shops and restaurants. Pretty soon it was time to get back to work and so we scanned the streets for the best laptop friendly cafes. Whether tucked away in a quiet alley way, or co-existing with the chaos, four cafes stood out, serving as office safe-havens for the month.
The Hanoi Social Club
Set inside a three story building, including a rooftop terrace. The social club is a retro decorated space with sunken-in velvet couches, antique cabinets, and various funky nik-naks (LP’s and acoustic guitars) strewn about the place. It had the feel of a relaxed members club, often frequented by European expats in adidas sneakers. With its flawless Wifi it was the kind of place you show up late morning order a coconut chai tea latte and eggs with chorizo for breakfast and get some serious work done. Hosting regular gigs and events such as Tiny Music, an intimate weekly concert series up on the cozy plant-adorned rooftop, as the sun set this was the perfect happy hour spot. Many nights we happily continued working into the mild winter night, accompanied by good music, a glass of red wine and a delicious chocolate dessert creation called a bliss ball (trust me, just order it).
6 Ngõ Hội Vũ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Gardenista Coffee & Tree Shop
On warmer days when the sun decided to peak through the haze that often lay like a lid atop the city sky, Gardenista was the perfect office al fresco. A short walk from the Ba Dinh business district, the expansive outdoor terrace had long stone benches warmed by the sun, and wooden crates serving as makeshift coffee tables. Surprisingly the wifi didn’t disappoint and outlets were plentiful. Fashionable Vietnamese girls dressed in fur coats and plaid skirts pranced around the cafe snapping pictures on their iPhones. Inside people worked at long communal tables while sipping matcha. Amidst cafe-goers the space also played host to a ‘tree shop’ selling adorable miniature cacti and other flowers.
50 Vạn Bảo, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
With multiple locations around the city, Cong Caphe co-exists with the chaos of the old quarter. Although perhaps a little too distracting to post up for the entire work day, Cong’s kitsch communist era decor and memorabilia serves as the perfect change of scenery to a day spent working in the quiet of your apartment. Dimly lit, and with a soundtrack of hip hop and downbeat tracks this is the spot to try Vietnamese coffee, served hot or iced with sweet condensed milk. Post up in one of the armchairs clad in bright floral and dragon fabric and get that lap top out.
41 Hàng Điếu Cửa Đông Hoàn Kiếm Cửa Đông Hoàn Kiếm Hà Nội Vietnam, Vietnam
Open 24 hours, Xofa is the ultimate spot for an all day (or all night) work session. Taking up an entire French-style maison with beautiful high ceilings and exposed brick interiors, there is no shortage of comfortable seating here, hence the name’s play off the English word ‘sofa’. Ranging from intimate tables lit by drooping ceiling lamps, to bed-like couches and restaurant-style booth benches there is even a multi level outdoor terrace and courtyard. The menu is extensive serving Vietnamese spring rolls and other traditional dishes mixed with delicious Western fare, and don’t miss out on the yogurt coffee. The crowd is an eclectic mix of remote workers in deep focus, a sprinkling of solitary book worms, and small cliques of leather-jacket clad locals smoking out on the patio.
14, Tống Duy Tân, Hàng Bông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 10000, Vietnam
Despite its hectic exterior, Hanoi came through as one of the most productive work hubs thus far, and much to our delight, the cheapest! The sweater-weather and shorter days that December brought meant that busy work days often blended into evenings of live music and mingling with the large expat community in the city. And come morning, coconut-coffee-in-hand, we were always ready to get back to work.