The 10 Coolest “Offices” I’ve Ever Had

There’s no doubt that one of the coolest aspects of being location independent is the ability to work anywhere.  I mean, that’s part of the allure to all of these people who are trying to quit their jobs and pursue internet based businesses.

That’s what sucked me in.

Back in 2009 I had to listen to my buddy Ryan talking about his days which consisted of reading in a coffee shop, surfing, and being a cabana boy at the local hotel.  While he wasn’t building a business then, I knew that the lifestyle was something worth striving for.  Here I am 2 years later, and while I’m not currently on a beach, I could be if I wanted 🙂

Through my travels since leaving my job, it’s been pretty interesting to see how I’ve actually put the whole “work anywhere” thing into practice, as I really have spent considerable amounts of time working in just about every locale that I’ve visited.

So here is my top ten list of coolest “offices” I’ve had over the last year or so. I define the term office, by any place I spent at least four hours working at during my travels.

10) Sports Bar – Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. I got to know this bar pretty intimately during the combined total of 8 days I spent on Koh Phi Phi last year. They hated me.  Not many people go to Phi Phi to work, so I don’t think the employees there fully got the concept of what I was doing. That said, I was able to sit on the table outside, drink my beer, and get familiar with the new websites I’d be working on, this was one of my first memories of the location independent lifestyle.

9) Heathman Hotel – Portland, Oregon. I love the Heathman Hotel in Portland.  When I started this blog, I’d frequently go down there after work and sit in their mezzanine library. It’s a beautiful, historic building, with a hell of a happy hour to boot.  In the library there are a wall of cases full of first editions that they open up to the public each evening at 5:30.  Each book was signed by the author and they’ve all stayed at the hotel.  The fact they serve free wine during these showings makes it a no-brainer – especially considering it’s almost always empty.

Heathman Hotel

8) Hyatt Pool – Austin Texas. A buddy of mine worked at this hotel and I had a few hours to kill while I waited for him to get done.  So what did I do? I took my laptop, sat by the pool and enjoyed the phenomenal 80 degree weather while making updates to Overcoming the Fear of Uncertainty.

Austin Hyatt

7) Starbucks – Empire State Building*. I actually only spent about an hour here, but I thought it was pretty cool to get to work from the Empire State Building.  I literally showed up from JFK having no idea where to go when I walked out of Penn Station.  I had 4 hours to kill before my bus to Philly left and so I just started walking towards the first thing I recognized. Upon arrival, I found a Starbucks, setup shop for a little while, and proceeded to play dumbfounded tourist up until my bus left. I didn’t get a whole lot of work done during my next day in NYC though…

6) Baiyoke Sky Tower- Bangkok. Speaking of big buildings, this one is the biggest in Thailand and was a short 15 minute walk from my Bangkok apartment.  The wifi here was pretty lacking, but my view from the 18th floor hotel lobby was spectacular.  I’d come here whenever I needed to get some distraction free writing done, only to usually get distracted by the driving range that was across the lobby. If you find yourself in Bangkok, while the hotel itself isn’t the most luxurious, it’s definitely worth seeing for the view…and golf.

Baiyoke Sky Tower Office

5) Badladz Resort – Puerto Galera. After fleeing Bangkok when the protests hit their worst, I decided to hop on a flight at the very last minute to Manila to go visit Dan of the Tropical MBA. 24 hours after that I was sitting in beautiful Puerto Galera working from my laptop and drinking an endless supply of ice cold San Miguel Lights.  While Puerto Galera is definitely small, and not super fancy, it had two essential components to a good office: fast internet and an incredible view.

Puerto Galera

4) Teba House – Bali. The Teba House in Ubud, Bali was spectacular.  It was $27/night for a very large clean room, but it was the terrace that truly made it worthwhile.  Twice a day we were served coffee and tea, and we had daily jaffles served to use for breakfast – which is one trend that I’m amazed hasn’t caught on stateside.  To be working in the middle of the jungle was something I hadn’t experienced before.  Ubud felt like a completely different world from the rowdiness of Kuta Beach, but if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, some incredible food, and beautiful scenery, look no further…

View of Ubud from the Teba Guest house

View from Teba Guest House in Ubud, Bali

3) Third Place – Bangkok, Thailand. While there were no jungles, beaches, or beers (usually) at Third Place, this was one place that literally did become my home away from home in Bangkok.  It ranks highly on this list for many reasons, but mostly because they served the best coffee in Bangkok, and whenever I was there I was surrounded by amazing friends and entrepreneurs.  It was one of the first (and only) times where I could show up knowing that someone I know would be there working on something great.  The friendships made, and work accomplished there was second to none.  Also it was in Thong Lo, which is definitely one of the cooler neighborhoods in Bangkok.

2) Ao-Nang Garden Bungalows – Ao Nang, Thailand. In the first few weeks of my time in Thailand, I spent considerable amounts of time in the beach town of Ao Nang.  Sure it was a little touristy, and maybe a litte more expensive than nearby places, but I loved this place – for so many reasons.  This was my absolute first experience of working from an exotic destination, and the mountains that surrounded our jungle bungalows certainly fall under the term exotic.  These bungalows had the fastest internet in the area, and I was able to get into a great routine, while still saving plenty of time for fun in the afternoon and evenings.

bamboo bars, ao nang, krabi, thailand

Soi of bamboo bars in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand

1) Sowden House – Los Angeles. Of all the opportunities I’ve had in the last year, and all the places I’ve been, the Sowden House in Los Angeles has to take the cake as the coolest office I’ve worked in.  While it wasn’t in a foreign country, or near a beach, the sheer exclusivity of this place, made my 4 days there an experience I’ll never forget.  I had my own room in which to work, and when I felt compelled to have a change of scenery I had tons of choices: the private (semi-secret) Koi Pond, the aquarium, or the beautiful courtyard were all excellent examples of good workspaces.  I was also able to get a lot done as I helped Chris to launch his Travel Hacking Cartel from the sunny courtyard.

Sowden House

Photo by Markus Urban

Well, there you guys go, 10 of the coolest “offices” I’ve had the pleasure of working in this past year.  I can’t wait to see what this post looks like next year as I make it to even more cool destinations and continue to build my businesses.

So for those of you that move around a little bit, what’s the coolest office you’ve ever had??

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Jeffrey March 1, 2011 at 10:41 am

This definitely puts the location independent lifestyle into perspective (especially with the great photos!) I haven’t had the pleasure of working in such awesome places (yet), but I’ll definitely be coming back to this post for motivation.

Caleb March 1, 2011 at 10:48 am

Awesome views Sean.

I look forward to having this kind of freedom by the end of the year. I end up doing most of my work from home or taking my laptop to a local coffee shop. I’ll be sure to write a post like this when my “office” is a little more exciting.

Sean March 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

Caleb, sometimes even branching out around your city can illicit some pretty cool spots that are enough out of the ordinary to make for a cool experience. For instance the Heathman is like that for me. I go there often instead of the local Starbucks. There are also a few rooftop bars in Portland that are great during happy hour in the summer. Something to think about!

Randy Johnson March 1, 2011 at 10:59 am

Wow, the photo from Bali is amazing to say the least!! And the Sowden House looks awesome too. I hope to make it to some of these places someday and be more location independent. Thanks for the great read Sean!

NomadicNeill March 1, 2011 at 11:27 am

My coolest office so far was probably the apartment we had in Koh Lanta, right on the beach, air conditioning. We’d go for lunch by the sand and have a quick dip in the sea.

At the moment I’m living in London so I just work from home. Although I could pick from any number of cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs. The whole high street that’s 5 minutes from my house is covered in free WiFi provided for by the council.

There is also a cool artsy / student area nearby called brick lane where they have cool lounge / bar type venues where you can sit and work.

So why do I choose to work form home?

Because there are too many attractive women sitting in these places with their Mac’s working on their graphic design / art / fashion projects for uni. It’s far too distracting!

Maybe in the summer when I’ve finished some of the bigger projects I’m working on.

David | Listen Feel Breathe March 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Now that’s what I call finding the work and life balance 🙂

What amazing places- nothing like an incredible atmosphere and view to find your creativity and focus

Benny March 2, 2011 at 8:01 am

Those are some awesome places and such a nice variety.

Well I can’t say I’ve been working per se but been working on some blog posts here in Taipei 101 while my girlfriend is working. I just love to sit in the food court and people watch.

Adventurous Kate March 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

Currently working (though clearly not hard enough!) at Monkey Republic in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. One of my fave guesthouses in SE Asia. Awesome loft upstairs with huge comfy chairs, great music, and lots of cool Swedes!

My favorite, though, was the restaurant at Lanta Palace in Koh Lanta, Thailand, overlooking the Andaman Sea. The view:

Heath March 2, 2011 at 10:23 am

The Baiyoke Sky is a great hotel – I definitely agree that the views are amazing.

Justin Hamlin March 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Sean –

I will have to say you did some of your best work in LA 🙂 Definitely a big THC fan.

Some of those places looked amazing, definitely some great memories there for you, I am sure.

Best office for me was back when I lived essentially on the beach in California. Could sit in my backyard, breeze, smell of the beach, everything.

Clayton March 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Hi Sean,

Cool list of “offices.” What did you think of Ao Nang? I was there in October and got to stay at Long Beach Krabi Villas in Ao Nang. It was very secluded. We didn’t get electricity until evening and the only way I could get to town was to catch a ride on a longtail boat across the canal.

I guess it could seem like an inconvenience to some, but I really liked being able to “unplug” from the internet and my computer for a bit and just get back in touch with the here and now.

Jared Mast March 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Being from Portland myself I will have to consider working out of the Heathman. Another great place that I personally like to work at, and you should possibly try, is Council Crest…the best view of Portland!

Minimal Nomad March 8, 2011 at 12:01 am

I work at the Hyatt in Austin all the time! I tend to sit on the porch overlooking the river, but the pool is a neat spot and right nearby. It’s an awesome place to write and read I find!

Stacey Herbert March 9, 2011 at 6:26 am

Sean, your killing me. I have office envy. My current office is a fold out table in my kitchen, and a high chair, with a pillow on it, so I don’t give me self RSI the amount of time I spend here. I spent a lot of time in Bangkok, and its a strange city, for somewhere so 24hr busy, if you want to you can find somewhere, relax, and cut yourself off from the noise. I hope to post my own top 10 offices very soon. Duly inspired

David (Edge of David) March 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I’m heading to Thailand in April up in Chiang Mai, then Bangkok, then Phuket. I will definitely be stopping by Third Place and Baiyoke Sky Tower. Not sure how I will handle the heat though as April is notoriously hot in Bangkok. I think it might be the hottest city in the world at that time. Really motivating post.

Sean March 9, 2011 at 6:06 pm

@Joel I’m glad someone enjoyed my not-so-subtle pun 🙂

@David – Definitely check out Sky Bar at Lebua as well. Expensive, but has to be one of the coolest bars in the world. Also, April will definitely be hot, but it won’t be as bad as you expect it to be. At least I didnt think it was…most of the time..

See you soon Benny!

Thanks Lou!

James St. James April 2, 2011 at 11:35 am

Sweet post. Love the pics, and the Heathman Hotel is my fav (for actually getting work done. Badladz Resort would be really inspiring though. I’ve spend many nights researching on a dock, or deck until I realize I can no longer see. JSJ

Micamyx|Senyorita June 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

It’s nice to see Puerto Galera on your list! 😀 Although I am from the Philippines, I haven’t been to Puerto Princesa. The coolest ‘office’ i’ve ever had is at the beachfront of Boracay while drinking a Mango-Avocado shake. Might as well make a similar entry on my blog 😀

Chris June 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Awesome post,

I have my own list of best offices which is very similar to yours, Baja California, Angeles City Philippines, Koh Chang Thailand, Pasadena Ca (okay that one is kinda boring. ) Tried to find a good office in China, but the internet sucks! Wish I could include pictures in the comments.

I lived in los angeles for 20 years and never heard of Sowden House, wow!

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