When I am not travelling, my playground in my adoptive South Africa is the capital city, Pretoria. And when my home office gets a little too quiet or too hot (which often happens), I prefer to venture to the many places freelancers call home – coffee shops, delis and bistros where one can grab a quick bite and work away on laptops while having a cuppa (or more). Here is my pick of the best spots ideal for remote working and writing in and around my neighbourhood.
Note: This list will be constantly updated as I discover cool places. All photos are taken with an iPhone 5/SE.
First, a word about the neighbourhood I call home. I have grown especially fond of the older and artsy Moot, and Capital Park, where I now live. It wasn’t love at first sight. As I started to explore the place, I have discovered a few gems hiding in between the quiet suburban streets lined with leafy Jacaranda trees, green parks, and decades-old houses with its corrugated iron roofs, wide porches, steel pressed ceilings and original oak wooden floors.
Coffee@Capital is my favourite little neighbourhood gem for wonderful coffee, breakfast or light lunches. It hides in the peaceful cul-de-sac Venter street behind a green wall of climbing ivy. Inside I take comfort in tall bamboo palms, a rectangular Koi fish pond covered in blue mosaics, quirky mismatched table and chairs and a nice display of antique cabinets and other paraphernalia. There is still a garden shop at the rear, the remnants of what was once a plant nursery, now replaced with green lawns where events, live music, beer tents and Friday night markets are happening.
The place is very peaceful especially in the weekdays mornings, the water flowing out the rusty pipes and the fountains the only soundtrack to getting those words out on paper or laptop, or having some work done. Weekends are also relaxed. There are no plugs as far as I know to hook your laptop in, so a long-life battery device works best. The coffee is great; the food is artfully presented and delicious. It’s a great place to be if you’re looking for a quiet, focused time.
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Address: corner Venter Street and Paul Kruger Streets, Capital Park
HAP (Huise van Afrikaanse Poesie, meaning ‘the House of Afrikaans Poetry’ translated from Afrikaans) is so quiet and charming during the weekdays that it’s literally a heaven for freelancers and art/book lovers/hipsters to hang out, work, read a book or just contemplate the laid-back surroundings.
Enjoy the garden atmosphere, the whimsical art displays, the many pathways leading to hidden gems – the smallest art museum in the world (Mimi Coetzee), a library room used as an event venue, and even a hair salon at the far back. You’ll be forgiven for not wanting to go home too soon.
I spent a few good hours nursing a foamy cappuccino and probably the best peppermint tart in Pretoria – so delicious. The service is friendly and unintrusive, and I did manage to get some needed writing done on a novel without the usual distractions. I am definitely going back!
Address: 115 Malherbe Street, Capital Park, Gezina, Pretoria
This venue is a welcome addition to the wonderful historic Pierneef street in the heart of Riviera. Grounded@Echo is a 3-in-1 coffee shop, co-working space (Grounded@Work) and coffee on the go (Grounded@Go). The decor is modern, industrial, bordering on efficient minimalism – unlike the artsy, vintage places the Moot region is well-known for. It can get busy during the day, but not overcrowded, and most visitors are working away on their laptops. So you’re in good company.
For a minimal fee, the mobile entrepreneur/freelancer can use the quiet co-working space (separate side entrance). I love the pulse of the vibey coffee shop, and seeing the barista making a cuppa (their coffee is tops), so I usually sit in the front at a table or on one of the comfy couches, typing away. Aside from the coffee and light menu indulgences, there are books to browse, local products to buy (foodies welcome), and art exhibitions featuring local artists are promoted inside.
Address: 353 24th Ave, Riviera, Pretoria
La Cantina (Rietondale Lodge)
My choice for business meetings in Pretoria when I don’t feel like traveling too far from home, La Cantina is a delightful Italian restaurant with a pleasant terrace view, good coffee, and most importantly free Wi-Fi and spaces to plug your laptop if needed. It’s relatively quiet during weekdays, and if the terrace becomes too lively for your taste (especially after lunch time), there is always extra space in the back of the restaurant overlooking the lodge’s pool.
Address: 259 Soutpansberg Road, Rietondale, Pretoria