UYC’s Guide: 5 Non-Cafe Spots To Study In NYC

As a blogger in NYC, I’m constantly on the hunt for quiet, non-distracting spots to read, research, and write.  Coffee shops can be a great go-to, but sometimes you need solitude without all the activity of your neighborhood spot…(not to mention the annoyed glances from the barista after you’ve taken up a table for hours for only one cup of joe!)


This poster was by created by Kaplan International Colleges.


Whether you’re a student, freelancer, or just need a place to sit quietly for a spell, here’s our guide to favorite NYC study spots, sans the coffee:

1. The New York Public Library (Main Branch) 

Okay, duh.  The library.  But you’d be surprised how many people I’ve come across that either 1. don’t have a library card or 2. have never stepped foot into the main branch, or what I like to call the most amazing building in the world Outside my apartment, this is by far my favorite place to work.  There’s never a shortage of chairs or work spaces, and the silence is actually that…silent.

Bonus feature: If you’re collaborating on a project, you can book one of the small group meeting rooms ahead of time, which fit 2-15 people and are completely free of charge.

2. The Bank of America Tower Atrium

NYC is full of public atriums…indoor spaces that can be enjoyed by anyone, free of charge (a full list, broken up by part of town, can be found here.)  So far in my exploration, the BOA Tower wins my vote for #1, because it’s centrally located, and conveniently sits right across the street from Bryant Park, a great spot for study breaks (as well as another great spot to check out when the weather is nice, also featuring free Wi-Fi.)  The open windows flood the space with light, and the greenery of the plants make for an indoor garden feel.



3. Poets House 

With a wall of windows overlooking the Hudson River and bookshelves surrounding you with prose, inspiration is all around.  A great spot to go if you’re in lower Manhattan.

4. Museums

A bit unconventional, perhaps, but NYC museums are filled with quiet nooks and crannies that serve purposes other than just displaying art.  A huge selection of the city’s most popular museums are either Pay-What-You-Wish, or have free hours, so you can rotate your museum selection throughout the month, and never be at a loss for inspiration.  One of my personal favorites for this use is the less frequented wings of the MET.

5. Hotel Lobbies

Our great metropolis has no shortage of hotels with fabulous lobbies, and as locals, why not take advantage of them?  Whether you’re style is hipster haute (try the Ace Hotel), socialite and sceney (perhaps the Gansevoort?), or luxe and laid back (the lovely SoHo Grand, pictured below), there’s a hotel in this city to meet your taste.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay for a cup of tea to sit on that gorgeous teal throne with my laptop than crammed in a Starbucks any day.



We’d love to hear from you!  What are your non-cafe study spots in the city?  


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen







  • Unseen NYC says:

    The library is my go to place, but here in Brooklyn they are a little noisier. I’ll have to try the main branch maybe. Not as nice as your main branch though…
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    • Used York City says:

      Yea, the non-main branches in Manhattan are also a bit louder, and it can be hard to score a seat. The main branch is very strict about enforcing the “shhh” zone, which is great for reading and writing;-)

  • Andrea says:

    Great finds! I would say Central Park but I haven’t ever studied there…
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    • Used York City says:

      There’s some great quiet spots in Central Park that can definitely be used for studying…or at least reading!;-)

  • jill says:

    Oooh, I live in San Francisco and work as a freelancer. Have never thought to look beyond coffeeshops as a place to work. Love the ideas of libraries and hotel lobbies. I need to check out some of these places here.

  • memographer says:

    Great post, Jess! Honestly, I have never thoughts about using “public atriums” (like banks) or “hotel’s lobbies”…
    Recently, I have visited J.Carter Center in Atlanta. I would love to go back for a read or write.
    memographer recently posted..Inca Empire vs High Altitude SicknessMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      They are great little pockets of space that can definitely provide tons of inspiration!

      Your Atlanta space sounds great!

  • Great tips, and I’m gonna steal ’em like an artist (pardon the pun!) for Los Angeles. I need some inspiration other than my little hometown coffee shop and public library. Lovely as they are, they are noisy and the library lighting sucks. I could never wrap my brain around that one—I’m convinced So. Pasadena public library gives untold business to the opthamology practice down the street.

    I hadn’t thought of crashing hotels. Definitely going to check out the Langham Pasadena this weekend. You are right–for a cup of overpriced tea, nothing beats the quiet, plush seating and serenity of a swanky hotel.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Jess!
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    • Used York City says:

      Oh no, that’s awful about your library! But luckily you can take advantage of all the sunny weather and gorgeous outdoor spots in SoCa…love that!

  • Salika Jay says:

    BOA Tower sounds like an interesting place for it’s views, and so is the library for its silence. Although I’m not a big fan of hotel lobbies to get some work done, I use it on vacations 🙂
    Salika Jay recently posted..6 Ways To Plan A Destination WeddingMy Profile

  • In london, the best places are the concert halls and theatres on the southbank of the river. If the weather is sunny you can sit out and watch the world go by…if not, there are lots of sitting places in the lobbies and they are almost all open from early morning to later in the evening. Sometimes there’s even free live music and theatre:)
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  • Agness says:

    I love coffee and I love peaceful places where I can read my book, do some blogging and relax. Some coffee shops in China are just way too crowdy and busy. You can’t really focus and people keep distracting you. It’s nice to see NYC has such nice places. I really fancy the design of The Bank of America Tower Atrium, looks like a cozy place, seriously. If I could, I would teleport myself over there!
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    • Used York City says:

      A lot of the coffee shops in NYC are very busy and distracting too…unless you are able to sneak away mid-day during their afternoon lull. I’m guessing China doesn’t have much of a lull, though!;-)

  • jaklien says:

    In Central Parl! In Summer of course, not when it’s freezing cold.
    jaklien recently posted..Chilling Out at Hafa Cafe in TangiersMy Profile

    • Used York City says:

      Totally agree with you on that! They even have free WiFi in parts of the park:-)

  • Babs says:

    Hotel lobbies are a great idea! xx
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  • I agree, SoHo Grand lobby looks mighty comfy. It’s a nice place to get away from your desktop computer and perhaps be productive (if you don’t fall asleep). recently posted..Impact of Patient Surplus on Primary CareMy Profile

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