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London’s first pay-per-minute cafe: will the idea catch on?

Ziferblat is London’s first pay-per-minute cafe, based on a Russian chain where ‘everything is free, except the time you spend there’

Ever felt you’ve overstayed your welcome in a cafe, by reading, working or surfing the web while hugging the latte you bought two hours ago? Pay-per-minute cafes could be the answer. Ziferblat, the first UK branch of a Russian chain, has just opened in London (388 Old Street), where “everything is free inside except the time you spend there”. The fee: 3p a minute.

Ziferblat means clock face in Russian and German (Zifferblatt). The idea is guests take an alarm clock from the cupboard on arrival and note the time, then keep it with them, before, quite literally, clocking out at the end. There’s no minimum time. Guests can also get stuck into the complimentary snacks (biscuits, fruit, vegetables), or prepare their own food in the kitchen; they can help themselves to coffee from the professional machine, or have it made for them. There’s even a piano – an idea that could seem brilliant or terrible, depending on who takes the seat.

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