If you’re a freelancer, blogger, or nomadic worker who happens to find themselves needing a desk to rent in central London, you might like to hear about a co-working space called JOVA.
I say co-working space, but JOVA positions itself as a ‘lifestyle cafe and work club’. It’s a little smaller than other well-known co-working offices, taking a very holistic approach to work and the all-important matter of work-life balance. And it’s very much leading the way in the ‘boutique’ way of doing things within the mobile office and co-working world.
I’ve visited a couple of co-working spaces recently and I am always interested in finding cool places for freelancers to work in London. So, when I was invited to try out the facilities at JOVA, I happily accepted their offer.
Review: Hot-desking at JOVA, London
You’ll find JOVA on Charlotte Street, a stylish part of town in Fitzrovia, easily accessible from Kings Cross and Euston train stations. It’s also close to a number of tube links (the nearest are Warren Street, Goodge Street, Euston, Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road).
Anyone can visit JOVA, whether you’re looking for a place to work or simply want to pick up a cup of coffee or bite to eat on-the-go. If you’re interested in hiring a desk or meeting room, you just need to ask at the café and they’ll direct you to ‘Joffice’ downstairs.
Let’s start with the food and drink…
The thinking behind the food and drink at JOVA
The food and drink is definitely one of the highlights at JOVA. The business was designed to have a real focus on holistic living and the philosophy here is ‘Eat well, Work well, Live well’. So, the owners, Vanessa and Armen, have worked closely with an expert dietician to create healthy, wholesome and organic food that’s going to help ‘fuel’ your working day.
What really impressed me was how much thought had gone into meeting various dietary needs. The food here is really clearly labelled with all the ingredients and nutritional info you’re looking for as well as information on any potential allergens.
It doesn’t stop there. You’ll find items suitable for people who follow vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and FODMAP diets (seriously, they’ve thought of everything). There’s even guidance around whether the food is suitable for pregnant women. And if you’re planning ahead, you can head to the JOVA website and filter the menu by clicking on the symbol that represents your dietary needs. Clever huh?
What’s on the menu at JOVA?
Drinks-wise, you’ll find all the barista-prepared coffees you’re looking for as well as a range of really interesting teas (At the time of writing this, JOVA was, very proudly, the only UK café to serve the prestigious Mariage Frères’ teas). The hot chocolate here is a rich and comforting blend of coconut milk and 73% cocoa organic chocolate. And there’s plenty in the way of home-made juices, from wheatgrass and coconut water to bee pollen, lemon ginger and honey. Each one will tell you its nutritional benefits and co-owner Armen swears by the little ‘potions’ they sell to kick-start his day.
When it comes to eating, the food menu is divided into light meals such as sandwiches and salads, and hot meals that are going to keep you going if you have a more demanding day. And we’re not talking about the mediocre sort of food yo pick up from your chain sandwich shop you either. The dishes here are interesting and innovative and bursting with colour and freshness. Think roast carrots, broccoli and organic fregola salads or Reuben sandwiches on fresh soda bread. There’s nothing boring about the food here.
When it comes to hot dishes, you can warm your toes with the likes of quinoa beef chili and avocado and warming beef stew. I’ve recently been trying to incorporate at least one or two meat-free days into my week. And the veggie burger I ordered confirmed that meat-free doesn’t have to be fun-free. It was packed with flavour and textures and the seeded bun was fab.
The menu isn’t huge but has plenty to keep you coming back. A breakfast menu of homemade granola, salmon bagels, coconut organic porridge and (coming soon) avo and eggs is available in the morning too.
Any sweet treats at JOVA?
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t worry, they’re not so virtuous here that they don’t allow you a sweet treat, with a selection of pastries, muffins, cakes and tasty-looking cookies.
But alongside the lovely looking desserts, you’ll also find a great selection of ‘raw bites’. They’re a little bit like those energy balls you get and if you order a hot drink from your desk, you’ll get a complimentary ‘chocolate brownie’ to try. They’re the perfect size to make you feel you’re not over-indulging and you can feel all virtuous that they’re made with more wholesome ingredients. A great little mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
How do you book a desk or meeting room at JOVA?
After I’d eaten my lunch, I headed downstairs to the concierge desk where you can inquire about hiring a desk space. It wasn’t full when I visited but if you don’t want to miss out, I’d recommend downloading the JOVA app (known as their JOVAPP) or visiting the website and booking your desk ahead.
As I say, JOVA is the ‘boutique’ take on co-working spaces so you’ll find just 10 desks to choose from (and one meeting room) and it feels quite snug inside.
Each desk has its own lamp (and cactus!), desk chair (pretty comfy) and free access to the wifi (which I had no problems connecting to). Free printing and scanning is included in your fee and the whole space is compact but ever so stylish. If you want to enjoy food or drink ‘al desko’ (you enjoy 10% off the menu if you are working in the ‘joffice’), then you can order through the app or place your order at the concierge desk.
Next to the desks, you’ll find a couple of comfy chairs where you can sit if you want a break from your desk. Think mid-century meets contemporary style furniture with pops of yellow, yellow and grey with funky domed lamps. If you want to pop out but don’t want to take all your belongings, there’s a lockable draw which you can leave your valuables in.
How much does it cost to rent a desk at JOVA?
The membership at JOVA can work on a pay-as-you-go basis or you can discuss more long-term options if you’re looking for something more permanent. It costs £7.80 an hour to hire a desk or £65 a day and you can use your desk from 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday. You also have the option of enjoying unlimited hot desk access for £350/month and the meeting space is available for £36 an hour.
What I loved about JOVA
I loved the ‘boutique’, stylish set-up at JOVA which is different to other co-working spaces. It felt very professional without feeling stuffy and it’s great that you have the option of combining the quiet Joffice in the basement – if you need to concentrate – with the light and airy café upstairs.
Overall, I had a really productive afternoon of work here thanks to the relaxing music, fantastic food and excellent service. I would come here just for the food. It’s wholesome without being boring and preachy and I’d highly recommend it to both my meat-eating friends and any vegans or vegetarians out there.
Anything I didn’t like?
It wasn’t full when I visited JOVA and there are small dividers between each desk but I have to say they are quite petite. So, had there been someone sitting either side of me, I may have felt a little less relaxed. My only other (tiny) criticism is I like to drink my tea from a mug rather than a glass (You can’t take the northerner out of me). But as I say, the service is so good here, I’m sure this is something they’d have changed if I’d actually asked!
Would I recommend JOVA co-working space to freelancers?
Overall, I thought JOVA was a fantastic facility for freelancers or, in particular, anyone visiting London for business who’s looking for a civilised place to work. The membership rates for me personally – and many freelancers I know – would probably be too high to use every day. However, I think it’s a great option if I ever need a couple of hours of quiet working time. I know I could enjoy great service, a lovely ambiance, and of course, fabulous, brain-boosting food. Oh, and did I mention they offer pilates at JOVA too? I didn’t get to try it out but definitely one for next time.