Oxford’s libraries are, I often find, difficult places to work in. Despite the history and beauty of my college library, it is, particularly during exam season, a constant hub of anxiety. As finals and prelims draw closer, college libraries and the Bodleian become charged with the presence of stressed finalists and frenzied first years. As Trinity term progresses, the distracting sound of manic typing gets increasingly loud, and the omnipresence of your hardworking tutorial partner gets even more exasperating.
If you’re looking to escape the tense atmosphere of your college library without ending up stuck in your room all day, Oxford’s café scene is the perfect opportunity.Café W, located on the second floor of Waterstones on Broad Street, has a cosy, relaxed vibe, and generally attracts an audience of all ages – many of whom sit around for hours eating, reading, and working. What better place to study is there than a café surrounded by new books, fresh off the press, and an excellent (albeit slightly distracting) birds-eye view of Cornmarket Street below. Another perk of working in cafés rather than your college library is the ability to eat and drink whilst you work. Café W’ boasts a large selection of coffees, loose leaf teas (a large teapot costs £1.95), croissants, cakes, gluten-free brownies, cookies, crisps – the list goes on. Indulge in a Ginseng green tea and a cinnamon bun, perhaps, and begin your essay in the stress-free atmosphere of the central Oxford café.
The only downsides of Café W are its popularity – meaning that other working students may have grabbed all the seats before you manage to – and the lack of plug sockets, which can be a pain for laptop users. But, overall, Café W is an excellent alternative to the library, especially when you’re a fan of exotic teas – of which the café boasts an ample selection.