20+ Amazing Coworking Spaces and Cafes in Nairobi [Updated for 2020]

by Apr 23, 20200 comments

Nairobi is one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the world, home to hundreds of startups and tens of thousands of independent businesses. Throughout the city, in every neighbourhood, coworking spaces and cafes host the businesses, consultants, creatives, and activists that drive the city’s unique mix of innovation, commerce, social impact, and art. 

Like the city itself, Nairobi’s coworking spaces and laptop-friendly cafes are incredibly diverse. But they all share one thing in common: they’re amazing spaces to work, hang out, network, and collaborate. 

We’ve picked out our favourites in every neighbourhood, so you never have to worry about finding somewhere to work. 

Pick the ones you like the best, pin them on your map, and don’t forget to pack your laptop charger.

Read more: If you want to know all about working online in Kenya, check out our quick guide, Kenya for Digital Nomads.

Map of Nairobi [Coming Soon]

Westlands

Nairobi’s downtown, Westlands is the buzzing heart of the city. This is where you’ll find the highest concentration of bars, restaurants, venues, and shopping malls. You could easily arrive in Westlands in the early morning and not leave until, well, the following morning. 

While much of Westlands is quite walkable – around Sarit Centre and The Alchemist, for example – it’s surprisingly big, spread out, and not well laid out. 

Make sure you know what part of the Westlands you’ll be working in, and don’t get lost.

Coworking Spaces

Ikigai Westlands

Ikigai is a fast-growing chain of coworking spaces spreading across Nairobi. Owned by two sisters, Ikigai combines nature, rustic design, comfort, and minimalist office spaces to help members maximise productivity and wellbeing. 

Their Westlands branch is simply stunning: set in a private estate with expansive, sloping gardens, it offers an abundance of relaxing, quiet indoor and outdoor workspaces. 

And like every other branch of Ikigai, the coffee is exquisite.

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Cafes

Connect Coffee Roasters

When a cafe is next door to Uber’s regional HQ, you know it’s a legit place to work. 

And while small, Connect Coffee Roasters delivers on all fronts: delicious coffees, with some interesting blends; a quiet but friendly atmosphere; comfortable seating; an abundance of power sockets. 

There’s also a limited food menu if you plan on staying for a long time.

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News Cafe @ Sarit Centre

News Cafe is a South African chain that’s kind of like the Costa Coffee of Africa: nothing exciting, but perfectly okay and comfortable. Also, they sell beer. 

The Sarit Centre branch is quite spacious, in the heart of Westlands, with plenty of tables and booths to work from. It’s a reliable choice if you’re shopping in Sarit or Westgate.

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Hotel Lounges and Bars

Hotel Fairmont The Norfolk

One of Nairobi’s many historic hotels, The Fairmont is a huge, relaxing complex of rooms, courtyards, bars, lounges, and a small swimming pool. 

Plug sockets are dotted throughout – even at the swimming pool – and the staff will leave alone to work in peace. 

It’s also a great place to people watch, equally popular with wealthy foreign tourists and local Nairobian businessmen looking for a discreet afternoon retreat.

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West Wood Hotel

The West Wood Hotel might have the most peaceful setting in Nairobi. The hotel’s huge, terraced garden blends so seamlessly into Karura Forest that the local monkeys can’t tell the difference. They’ll often be running around above your head as you work. 

Quiet and relaxing, The West Wood is also an excellent mid-range place to stay when visiting Nairobi.

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Lavington and Kilileshwa

These two neighbourhoods overlap into one another, creating a large suburban area within Central Nairobi. They’re popular with the city’s American and European expat community for the quiet atmosphere, restaurants, and affordable apartments. 

Kilileshwa is also home to The Arboretum – a peaceful area of landscaped gardens that run along its border with Westland, the CBD, and Kilimani.

Lavington and Kileleshwa are dotted with plenty of coworking spaces and cafes, often within walking distance of one another.

Coworking Spaces

Ikigai Lavington

This was the first of Ikigai’s space that we visited, and it charmed us from the moment we walked in. It has that effect. 

Even without a large garden, Ikigai have once again filled their Lavington branch with nature. Plants abound throughout the space, alongside every possible kind of workspace you could imagine: booths, quiet areas, idea rooms, hideaways, standing desks, and more. 

Not to mention that their barista, Marion, is maybe the best in Nairobi.

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Pallet Cafe’s Coworking Space

As you’ll see below, Pallet Cafe is a popular restaurant in Nairobi, that also hosts a coworking space. While new, they hope to create a coworking space dedicated to freelancers, solo entrepreneurs, and digital nomads. 

Membership comes with a free barista-made coffee every day, making this a great value option.

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Cafes

Pallet Cafe

Pallet Cafe may be famous in Kenya for its deaf and hearing-impaired wait staff, but there’s plenty more to this charming restaurant. 

Set in a large, quiet garden in central Lavington, they serve delicious, fresh, and healthy dishes in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. It’s equally popular as a place to work, eat, and spot local celebrities, politicians, and creatives.

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Java House Lavington

Java House is the biggest coffee chain in Kenya, with branches all over the country. However, many of Nairobi’s are way too busy, stuffy, and loud to work from. 

The Lavington branch is an exception. The large first-floor balcony is not only great to work on, but it also keeps the inside seating cool and fresh. Even when every table is full, it never feels too crowded here. There’s also a super comfortable couch in one corner for when you need to switch off.

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Chekafe

A Japanese ramen and cake restaurant with an African book store; set in a beautiful garden that also hosts an art school and monthly artisans market; along with some of the best coffee in Nairobi. 

Yes, Chekafe is all of these things AND a great place to work – especially during the week, when it’s garden is a quiet, calm oasis.

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Muthangari & Riverside Drive

Muthangari is an upmarket neighbourhood in the north of Nairobi, with Riverside Drive making up its southern border. 

You’ll find plenty of fancy cafes, chic coworking spaces, and modern restaurants popular with the white-collar workers and families of diplomats’ that live here. 

Always quiet and incredibly well landscaped, Muthangari has a very laid back feel and is a delightful area to work.

Cafes

Le Grenier a Pain

Always busy without feeling full, Le Grenier is a French-themed bakery and cafe in one of central Nairobi’s more upscale neighbourhoods.

It’s a popular spot with nearby corporate workers, consultants, and freelancers, and accommodates anyone with a laptop who needs to work for a few hours.

Comfortable seats are complemented with good coffee and Nairobi’s best croissants.

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Kilimani

Kilimani is probably the largest residential area in Nairobi, a sprawling suburb that’s home to much of the city’s middle class.

It’s very spread out and can become quite congested with traffic, especially during a storm. 

If you live in the area or work here, this won’t be an issue. However, if you’re coming from another part of the city, Kilimani’s coworking spaces and cafes are best visited in the late morning, afternoon, and evenings, when the roads have less traffic.

Coworking Spaces

iHub

iHub is one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s top-ranking startup and innovation hubs. With a very dynamic, active, and diverse community focused on local growth and development, you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals.

The coworking space also hosts community-lead events regularly, often open for anyone to attend.

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Cafes

Lava Latte

Lava Latte is simply one of our favourite places in Nairobi, period. This quirky, colourful, and cozy cafe, art gallery, event space, and restaurant is just an amazing, inspiring place to be. 

While the picture above illustrates the coziness, Lava Latte is also a popular work spot for Nairobi’s freelancer and creative communities. So you’ll be in good company. 

Also, we hosted our first-ever meet up here.

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Kesh Kesh Cafe

In the heart of Kilimani beats a modern & charming Eritrean restaurant in which you can enjoy both the richness of Eritrean coffee and better productivity. 

Kesh Kesh is a popular place to work online in Nairobi for many reasons. It’s peaceful, great for small meetings, and has a relaxing outdoor courtyard full of plants.

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Ankole Grill

Located on the ground floor Senteu Plaza, the same building as iHub, Ankole is a trendy and unique African steakhouse.

The cosy ambience and minimalist decor promote focus, with minimal distractions. You could easily find yourself getting easily lost in your work for many hours, and rewarding yourself with a delicious dinner and cocktail after. 

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Upstairs at Alexandre in Yaya Centre

Alexandre is a hidden gem within the busy Yaya Centre. At first, it just looks like a packed, noisy bakery, and the worst place imaginable to work online. However, there is a hidden wooden staircase that you can easily miss. This leads to a quiet upstairs area that feels a little like the inside of a pirate ship. 

Settle in here, and you’re guaranteed a productive work session, far away from the bustle of Yaya Centre.

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Ngong Rd.

Ngong Rd. is a long stretch of highway that runs from the CBD all the way to Karen on the outskirts of Nairobi. Along the way, it runs past shopping malls, stadiums, business parks, music venues, and even Nairobi’s small ‘Chinatown’ neighbourhood. 

Currently undergoing major construction work to become a four-lane dual carriageway, Ngong Rd. can be occasionally chaotic, dusty, and jammed with traffic. It can also be a lot of fun.

If you’re in the area, don’t expect to walk. Distances between buildings are often a lot longer than they look on a map. 

Coworking Spaces

Nairobi Garage

Nairobi Garage is the original Nairobi coworking space, and remains one of the most popular in the city. 

It’s quite modern and spacious with a very corporate feel, professional staff who will attend to your needs and freshly made free coffee and tea served throughout the day. You’ll be surrounded by many amazing local and international startups, as well as entrepreneurs that will welcome you into their professional and personal networks.

Nairobi Garage also offers a great part-time membership, starting at just $45.

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The CBD

Most people never visit Nairobi’s CBD unless absolutely necessary. That includes Nairobians, who view the area as dull and dangerous. 

There is, unfortunately, some truth to this reputation.

However, the CBD is home to a growing number of modern restaurants, laptop-friendly cafes, cultural venues, and historical landmarks worth visiting. During quieter afternoons, it’s a surprisingly enjoyable place to take a stroll. 

Just make sure you know exactly where you’re going, and don’t look like a total tourist.

Cafes

Artcaffe Westminster

Built-in 1928, Westminster House is a grand former colonial hotel in the heart of the CBD that is now home to restaurant chain Artcaffe’s most decadent location. 

While you’d easily miss the entrance – a nondescript door on the sidewalk of Kenyatta Avenue – once you climb the stairs, the restaurant opens up into a vast space reminiscent of an old British train terminal. 

Its size and high ceilings mean ensure Artcaffe Westminster enjoys a breezy, relaxing atmosphere throughout the day.

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Pickpocketing and ‘snatch-and-grab’ theft are issues in the CBD, day and night. Avoid smaller streets and large crowds, keep your phone and wallet hidden, and you shouldn’t have any problems.

If visiting the CBD at night, take extra precautions and use Bolt or Uber to get around. Order your pick up and drop off at your destination, not on the street.

Don’t walk around alone, and ideally, never without somebody who knows the area.

But don’t worry, it’s not as scary as all that sounds. You’re rarely far from a security guard in the CBD, and most people never have an issue there.

Gigiri

A short drive north of Westlands, Gigiri is an affluent, hilly neighbourhood looking out over downtown Nairobi. It’s home to Karura Forest, the UN’s massive Kenya HQ, various embassies and ambassadors, and much of Nairobi’s growing middle class.

If you’re only visiting Nairobi short term, you’ll probably come to Gigiri for Karura Forest. If you plan on living in the city for a while, Gigiri is a quieter change of pace from Westlands and other more central neighbourhoods.

Cafes

Village Market

Village Market is a newer, smaller, and more up-market shopping mall with plenty of great restaurants, bars, and cafe chains to work from. 

Highlights include Artcaffe, CJ’s, The Tribe Hotel, and Harvest Restaurant.

When you want to unwind, Village Market has a brilliant outdoor food market, bowling, a trampoline park, and plenty of independent fashion boutiques to explore.

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The River Cafe @ Karura Forest

You should really leave your laptop at home if you’re coming to Karura Forest. Nairobi’s largest protected nature reserve outside of the National Park, Karura is somewhere to switch off, relax, and enjoy the fresh air. 

However…. 

There’s no denying that The River Cafe is a brilliant place to work, especially if you can get a table looking out over the forest.

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Outside Central Nairobi

Nairobi is a sprawling metropolis ringed by many pleasant, quieter neighbourhoods. These offer a peaceful escape without having to leave the city. 

Just like the neighbourhoods in the city itself, each has its own unique feel, along with plenty of places to work online. Some of our favourites are:

Nairobi Garage, Karen

Tin Roof Cafe, Karen

Boho Eatery, Langata

News Cafe @ Hardy, Langata 

Coffee Casa, Parklands 

Wasp & Sprout, Loresho 

Final Thoughts

While this is list is packed full of great coworking spaces and cafes, it’s still only a taster for what Nairobi has to offer. 

Whether you’re a remote worker, entrepreneur, startup team member, or digital nomad, you’ll be spoilt for places to work online in Nairobi.

Did We Leave Anywhere Out?

What’s your favourite coworking space in Nairobi? Do you know a great cafe we missed?

Tell us in the comments below and we might add it to the list.

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