Hong Kong's best Wifi cafes

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Armed with her Macbook Air, Angie Wong searches out the best free WiFi in town

Freelancers and job-hunters alike often get cabin fever in their shoebox-sized homes: the only release from their cramped hell is to get out, and be around other souls with no office to call home. But finding that perfect spot to camp out all day with coffee refills, dee-lish Danishes and your laptop, is a real feat in this eat-and-get-outta here town. To help those seeking refuge, we’ve crisscrossed town looking for a signal. And though many restaurants and cafes charge for Wi-Fi usage, there are those rare outposts who believe the internet is for the people – and should therefore be free of charge. Here’s our round-up of these connectivity heroes.

Living room at W

Signal: 4 bars

Plugs: 0

Just like at home, it’s hard to get any work done in the Living Room. The distractions here are legion: DJs, cocktails, board games, coffee table books, newspapers, and attractive people (okay, so not exactly like home). If none of those vices do it for you, then scoot down a few inches on their plush sofas and stare out at the city views from the two-storey windows. For those who want to keep it light as they lounge for hours, or however long your battery lasts, the tapas menu is yet another great diversion. 6/F W Hong Kong, 1 Austin Rd, West Kowloon, 3717 2222; www.starwoodhotels.com.

Classified

Signal: 3 bars

Plugs: 1

At Classified, it’s best to get your ass inside if you’re planning to do some serious web surfing – the outside reception is lousy. In fact, the WiFi is generally a little slow no matter where you sit – we suspect that many of the residents upstairs at CentreStage are stealing a signal from this place. Accusations aside, Classified is perfectly set up for a bit of casual work, and dining: think pastas, sandwiches, cheese platters and great Javas. As befits their name, guests are also invited to linger for hours and read the paper. How good is that? G/F, 108 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan, 2525 3454. 

Pho 26

Signal: 4 bars

Plugs: 0

Not too many noodle shops will allow you to linger for hours perfecting your Facebook profile, but Pho does. While you should plan to avoid the busy lunch rush, if you come during quiter hours, say mid-morning or late afternoon, you won’t be greeted by icy stares when you open up that laptop. We love their tomato broth Kobe beef pho, a Canto take on the original, clear broth version. 2 Landale St, Wan Chai, 2628 3939.

Graze

Signal: 4 bars

Plugs: 1

Come for breakfast and stay until happy hour. Here, let us plan out a day’s menu for you: for breakfast, organic oatmeal and banana with flaxseeds for your daily intake of fibre; an Earl Grey and honey muffin for a mid-morning snack; at lunchtime it’s chicken Caesar salad; and end your work day with a happy hour mojito. G/F Chao’s Bldg, 143-145 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, 2850 7766; www.graze.hk.

Brunch Club

Signal: 4 bars

Plugs: 6

As well as being a dining destination, Brunch Club is also known as a freelancing heaven. Every unemployed writer, photographer, filmmaker, and day trader has paid their dues at this casual shabby-chic cafe. They’ve got an all-day breakfast menu, as well as a varied line-up that includes croque-monsieurs, salads and steaks. We really like their pesto pasta with pine nuts – great light fare to keep you going when work is pounding the brain. Oh, and did we mention you can take your lap dog there as well? 70 Peel St, Soho, 2526 8861; www.brunch-club.org.

Café O

Signal: 4 bar

Plugs: 2

Ready for a little WiFi heaven? Okay then. Bring your computer and park here for as long as you want. They serve pizza by the square slice, salads by the bowl – and beer (how does anyone work without it?) Citywide. Central branch: 2 Arbuthnot Rd, Central, 2868 0450.

The Pawn

Signal: 4 bars

Plugs: 3

With an entire floor called the ‘Living Room’, the folks here really want you to make yourself at home. Bring the laptop, and sink into one of their comfy couches – the signal is much better inside than out. Unlike some of the other places on our list, The Pawn serves great ales, not to mention bang up British grub. 60 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai, 2866 3444; www.thepawn.com.hk. 

Cafe Zambra

Signal: 3 bars

Plugs: 3

This café is a great hideout for the temporarily unemployed, a place to go when you don’t want to bump into anyone from your previous workplace. Not too many make the journey to this gourmet soup, sandwich, and salad spot (yet), which is why we love it. And also for the coffee, which comes from gourmet supplier Zambra. Shop 1, G/F, 239 Jaffe Rd, Wan Chai, 2598 1322; www.zambra.net.

Crema Coffee

Signal: Good

Plugs: 2

We adore the weird cappuccino art here, like when they swirl the crema (the cream you get from a well made espresso) and frothy milk into the shape of a happy bunny or cute cat. They also have college comfort foods, such as French bread pizza (with pineapples!) and chocolate muffins. Everyone comes here with their laptops, so be sure to arrive early to secure a seat. Shop LG17 Lower Ground Floor (underneath Park n’ Shop), Hilton Tower, 96 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, 2369 0338.

Holly Brown

Signal: okay

Plugs: 4

The two-storey Holly Brown in Central is dimly lit – and there aren’t any plugs available. But, if you’re looking for a quiet place to work, head upstairs where it’s not too crowded. The WiFi is for customers only (the password is printed on the receipt) – and there’s a variety of food and drinks (affordable coffee, expensive coffee, gelato, waffles and pasta). G/F, 22 Stanley Street, Central, 2869 9008; http://www.hollybrowncoffee.com/

Page One Café

Signal: Okay

Plugs: 0

They don’t have free WiFi at Page One, but thanks to the magnanimous folks at Swire, all of Festival Walk is kitted out with free internet. That means you can log on anywhere, including Cova Café, Oliver’s or Pacific Coffee. We however like Page One, because it acts like a reference library (important when you’re researching a story), and when you’re bored or just need a break, there are thousands of magazines to distract you. LG1-30 Festival Walk, 88 Tat Chee Ave, Kowloon Tong, 2778 2808; www.pageonegroup.com.

Peak Bar

Signal: Good

Plugs: 3

Good old Peak Bar, we sometimes forget that they serve more than a good pint. In the afternoons, this café is a popular hangout for out-of-work writers and coffee dates. Besides buying something to drink, also order one of their thin crust pizzas, made to order in their stone oven. Note: the WiFi is only available from noon-5pm, to discourage evening lingerers. 9-13 Shelley St, Soho, 2140 6877; www.cafedecogroup.com.

RabbitHole Coffee and Roaster

Signal: Good

Plugs: 2

Technically, RabbitHole isn’t a café but a shop which sells coffee beans and machines. Located on the second floor, it’s pleasant to find a quiet and open-spaced shop. Various coffee machines are placed against the walls with a long wooden table in the middle of the room. The shop is bright and there’s balcony windows, through which the Central-Mid-levels escalator riders look in from. Because it’s not really a café, space is limited and it can easily get crowded. There are two plugs available but they’re far from the table. It’s the perfect place to steal some time away from the real world in this rabbit hole. 2/F, 26 Cochrane St, Central, 2581 0861; http://www.rabbitholecoffee.com/

Top Deck

Signal: Okay

Plugs: 0

Okay we’ll admit it; this is not where you first might think of to bring your laptop to do a day’s work. But why not? On a bright day, you’ve got sparkling marina views, plenty of sunshine, and comfy lounge beds to lie on. While you need to get a security code to log on, they are happy to share upon request. And the food? Good burgers, Thai favourites, and curries. Top Floor, Jumbo, Shum Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, 2552 3331.

The Real Bread Café

Signal: Good

Plugs: 3

This is Soho’s answer to Santa Monica, which is to say a café full of loungers seeking a bit of sunshine. Rays of light stream between tightly packed buildings to bless Real Bread’s patio with natural light. It might bake your laptop, but it will make your sun-deprived soul feel warmly taken care of. 14 Shelley Street, Soho, 2810 9326.

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18 Comments Add your comment

  • thanks angie now wouldn't it be great if we could just have the locations without the very useful comments in a tiny pdf or whatever to store on our phone. well done

    Posted by mike sanders on March 13, 2009 at 12:24 PM
  • thanks for this, we provide wi-fi cos its not easy to find good reliable wi-fi in many places, or lots of plug points for mobile, crackberry & laptop did we mention also that half our mac'ers are on facebook most of the time? fr what you've written we know you've definitely done your research and what you wrote on brunch club was spot on!

    Posted by LiL on July 13, 2009 at 05:50 PM
  • Hi Angie, wasn't aware that Festival Walk was installed with free wifi, no doubt will check it out soon, cheers!

    Posted by Mike on July 25, 2009 at 12:48 PM
  • If you talk about a MacBook Air you should also put one on the picture and not a MacBook ;)

    Posted by nojetlag on August 1, 2009 at 12:00 AM
  • Discovered recently that Hong Kong Park also has free government Wi-Fi. Nice to be able to sit in the sun by the pond with a laptop and work!

    Posted by Matt on September 12, 2009 at 02:35 PM
  • Free Gov Wi-Fi at Delifrance on the podium of Causeway Bay: HK Library

    Posted by DLA on October 21, 2009 at 08:26 PM
  • As a foreigner with a passionate love for free wifi visiting HK, I certainly thank you for this extensive list of establishments. However, I do wonder if I'll need to equip myself with a can of mace to secure a spot for my buns and a pipeline to battery juice :D

    Posted by VSQ on November 16, 2009 at 11:15 PM
  • Though Yumla is a bar, not a cafe, and they only open at 5PM or 6PM, they do offer free wifi access. I've been known to sit on the steps just outside before they open to grab a quick email, etc.

    Posted by Magnetic Soul on December 7, 2009 at 08:41 AM
  • I visited HK last month and spent quite some time at FW. However most of the WiFi signals are for subscribers only. I ended up buying a PCCW 30 days WiFi pass for US$20. It worth every single penny of it.

    Posted by e.w. on January 5, 2010 at 08:43 AM
  • Crema Coffee have moved Shop LG17 Lower Ground Floor Hilton Tower 96 Granville Road Tsim Sha Tsui East (underneath Park’n shop supermarket & Watson’s Store) just around the corner from the old shop

    Posted by Stephen Chow on December 29, 2010 at 09:37 AM
  • There is one more, a burger shop name The Big Bite, which is located in North Point.. U12,Fitfort 560 king's road North Point.. Tel: 21551066

    Posted by sam on March 26, 2011 at 06:59 AM
  • LGB coffee shop in IFC 2 has wifi access. Gave me the access details before I even bought a coffee! Not sure how reliable it is though. Good coffee and friendly staff too :) Address: Shop 1106 Podium Level One IFC Mall (beside iScream and Apple Store).

    Posted by HK lady on May 8, 2012 at 12:13 PM
  • Cafe corridor! Causeway bay! It's awesome!

    Posted by Marcos on July 7, 2012 at 03:37 PM
  • Signal at holly brown hasn't worked properly in two months. They say it's working and then it doesn't. You should take them off the list.

    Posted by Meaghan on November 30, 2012 at 12:22 PM
  • Great list! We've added some of these suggestions to our collection of great cafe workspaces with wifi in HK - http://cowo.me/hong_kong

    Posted by CoWoMe on February 11, 2013 at 08:11 AM
  • Thanks you but it seems that for Time Out Hong Kong is only and island and Kowloon is consider as China. Dont be afraid try to cross the harbour Angie people are similar to you

    Posted by fabien on April 17, 2013 at 02:03 PM
  • You forgot to mention that A) there is life outside Central and all Saffron afes give you free wi fi without the stupid login password rubbish.. we're in sheung wan 20 sq st if outside central is a tad too scary !

    Posted by sean on September 14, 2013 at 03:45 PM
  • Re: Page One Cafe. Swire no longer owns Festival Walk. Maple Tree a Singapore based company purchased Festival Walk in 2011 for 18 billion.

    Posted by Mag on January 29, 2014 at 08:24 AM

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