Review

The new home office: We tried out private co-working spaces in upscale NYC rentals. Here's how it went

A co-working space with coffee bar is one of the amenities at MiMA in Midtown. 

Mimi O'Connor

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Competition for New Yorkers' cash, whether they're buying or renting, is pretty fierce right now, particularly if you're considering living in a new (or new-ish) building. To sweeten the pot, many buildings offer a variety of amenities designed to cater to a specific demographics. (This is why some developments spend big on kids playrooms and teen lounges, while others concentrate more on spaces for grown up entertaining.)

But pretty much everyone needs to work, which is why resident-only co-working spaces in buildings are a very desirable amenity these days. The legions of freelancers, project-based employees, entrepreneurs, and others not heading to an office or working nine-to-five jobs make these spaces a requirement for many apartment seekers. And with new apartments getting smaller and losing space to carve out an office nook, having a place to get some work done in your building is probably good for overall mental health—for you and for your family.

But a co-working space is only as good as one's ability to actually work in it. So we headed out to a number of co-working or common spaces in rental buildings throughout the city, laptop in tow, hoping to plug in, sit down, and be productive. Here's where we worked. 

The Rheingold, Bushwick

Occupying an entire city block in Bushwick (on the former site of the Rheingold Brewery), The Rheingold at 10 Montieth St. is a massive, amenity-packed development with 500 apartments. With a stylish lobby that feels more boutique hotel than giant rental complex, The Rheingold has a large gym, video gaming room, and photography studios, spa, pet groomer, and rooftop lounges. The Rheingold also has 70,000 square-feet of outdoor space, too. You could go a long time without actually ever leaving. (Access to amenities is tiered, with Basic, Gold, and Platinum memberships; costs start at $600 per year or $75 a month. You'll need a Gold membership ($90/month) to use the co-working space. Occasionally The Rheingold runs specials offering the first year of amenities at a reduced rate.)

Rent: Studios start at $2,442; one and two bedrooms are also available.

Co-working space: The Rheingold's main co-working space is a large, well-lit area on the ground floor, with a glass wall that looks out onto a central courtyard. Several long, custom-made partitioned tables with workstations are available, where residents can either plug in their own laptop, or log on to one of the Macs already there. Wifi was easy to access and speedy. The Rheingold​​​​​​'s co-working space was the most well-equipped of all the spaces we check out, with electrical outlets at the desk areas for charging, computers ready for use, and branded mouse pads. 

Small, soundproof conference rooms are located in the back, a casual seating area is in the front of the space, and there's a kitchenette area with a sink and mini fridge. Bathrooms are located just outside the main co-working space, and vending machines are nearby as well if you need a snack. (There's a coffee shop one floor up near the lobby if you need some caffeine.) In addition to this main co-working area, The Rheingold features nooks and rooms with whiteboards throughout the development so you can find a spot to work no matter your need or style. 

When we stopped by mid-morning on a weekday, the main co-working space was pretty quiet, with just one other person using it, but it's hard to imagine a space in a complex this huge ever being uncomfortably crowded (except maybe the gym or the massive landscaped rooftop on a perfect summer eve). 

The Stanwix, Bushwick

Located just across the street from The Rheingold, The Stanwix at 115 Stanwix St. is also a new development, but much smaller, home to 130 apartments. With a distinctly Art Deco-inspired design and decor, The Stanwix offers amenities such as a gym, yoga room, two screening rooms, a roof deck, resident lounge, and gym. Apartments are Alexa-enabled, with the option to control lights, blinds, etc. with voice commands. 

Rent: Studios start at $2,700; three-bedrooms are $4,750.

Co-working space: Located in the basement of the building, The Stanwix's co-working space is part of the much larger communal space on this level. (Despite its subterranean location, it doesn't feel bunker-like, thanks to high ceilings, and windows and glass doors letting light in from the lobby level.) 

While the co-working space is separate, with sculptural divider, a more loungey-space is steps away with leather couches, more casual seating, as well pool tables, shuffleboard and other games. (Beyond that is yet another lounging spot, where you could also choose to work.) So, a very social space is close by. 

The co-working space itself is quite large, with big, long tables, some nice booths, and a conference table area, and large screens mounted on the wall. The wifi was easy and fast. Perhaps taking a page from public co-working spaces, The Stanwix has a "phone booth" for making calls, but the "door" is a curtain, so privacy and sound-proofing is not the best. Neither is the fact that a large space with lots of smooth surfaces like this creates a fair amount of echo. We didn't find it detrimental to our ability to work, but we noticed it. Another side effect of a huge space with a lot of glass? It was kind of chilly. But, some coffee on tap from a local roaster could help with that. Finally, for inspiration, in big, gold type the back wall reads: "Hustle Beats Talent When Talent Doesn't Hustle." 

The Amberly, Downtown Brooklyn 

Built last year and between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges at 120 Nassau St., The Amberly's amenity spaces include a fitness center, a ninth floor lounge with outdoor terrace (slated to open by July), and a 33rd-floor lounge space dubbed "The Overlook." (Residents pay a one-time fee of $500 for amenities, and a $50 fee for the gym app—both of which are currently being waived.) 

Rent: Studios from $3,400, with one, two, and three bedrooms also available.

Co-working space: The Amberly's co-working space is the least traditional of the areas we tried out. (As with all the buildings we test-drove, you can technically co-work anywhere, like the 24-hour lobby with casual seating areas, or ninth-floor lounge.) But why work anywhere else when you can plug in at The Overlook and enjoy some of the most stunning views of Downtown and Midtown Manhattan, the East River, and more. We dropped in around 10 a.m. on a weekday and watched the city's late-morning churn: cars streaming over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, water taxis and boats cruising along, helicopters ferrying their presumably VIP occupants. Wow. Just, wow. 

Beyond the eye-popping view, the chicly-designed space provides lots of seating options, ranging from bar-like ledges with stools, to large tables, to lounge chairs. The Overlook was equipped with outlets for plugs and phone chargers (a nice touch) and wifi was strong and reliable. 

MiMA, Midtown

Located a stone's throw from Times Square, MiMA at 450 W. 42nd St. offers luxury apartments and 44,000 square feet of amenities. Those include a resident-only Equinox, a heated swimming pool, game room, children's playroom, basketball court, resident lounge with private terrace, and yes, a co-working space with coffee bar. 

Rent: Studios start at $3,635, two bedrooms with dens are $10,520 

Co-working space: MiMA's co-working space is located on the same floor as many of the building's other amenities—including the private Equinox, which we have to say, looks pretty great. The moderately-sized business center was hopping when we were there (late morning on a weekday), and was by far the busiest of all the spaces we visited. (It's also been around the longest.) And while it verged on crowded, we were able to get a seat, and found the industrious atmosphere appealing—even with FaceTime calls going on. The coffee bar is actually a fancy machine that will whip up your choice of hot beverage (it also makes noise), but it's free and makes a nice cup. Next to it is a vending machine with lots of healthy, energy-providing snacks and drinks to help maintain your productivity. Residents can print to a printer on site, and the wifi is good and zippy. 

There are numerous seating options, ranging from stools along a ledge, to large tables, to work stations with computers; alternative spaces, located just outside the work center are more lounge-like, but would also be a good place to hunker down. (For example, there was a large, round booth in the quiet billiards room.) For those wanting to work al fresco, one of the terraces is steps away as well. 

Murray Hill Marquis, Murray Hill

A boutique hotel converted to an apartment building with studios and one-bedrooms, Murray Hill Marquis at 150 East 34th St. offers amenities like a 1,100-square-foot fitness center, yoga studio, residents club with game room, laundry room with smart machines and text alerts. 

Rent: Studios start at $2,575; one-bedrooms start at $3,425

Co-working space: Located on the basement level of the building (where you'll also find the fitness center), the Murray Hill Marquis' co-working space is one large room with a big, central table, and more casual seating arrangements and work stations on the perimeter. There is also a conference room available, although we didn't see it. The wifi was great, and we actually found the windowless, subterranean location conducive to productivity and focus. The space was nicely decorated with NYC-themed art and assorted knick-knacks, but we didn't see a source for snacks anywhere.