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Time: 16:21 23 May 2011

London's first pay-per-minute café opens

9th January 2014

One of the great things about London is that the city is full of quirky surprises, with all sorts of unusual attractions where things are done a little differently and the status quo is smashed to pieces. If you're looking for things that go against the grain then this is definitely the city for you, and a recently-opened café called Ziferblat is the perfect example of why this is the case.

Named after the Russian word for clock, this new establishment on Old Street is not your average café. Instead of being charged for the drinks and snacks they consume, customers instead pay for the amount of time they spend at the venue, and are able to help themselves to tea, coffee, biscuits and more for free.

The concept has already taken off in Russia, where the chain has nine branches, and owner Ivan Mitin insists that the idea behind the café is to treat customers like "micro tenants", as they are expected to make their own drinks and wash up after themselves.

Charged at just 3p a minute, the café is a very affordable place to enjoy a cup of coffee – not to mention being great fun and highly sociable. It's like being in a giant communal kitchen in some sort of flat share.

Punters take a clock from the shelf when they arrive and note the time, so that when they leave they are able to deduce exactly how long they have spent inside, and can therefore calculate how much they owe.

The retro furniture and unlimited wi-fi add to the experience, helping visitors feel at home, so if you happen to be in the area and are at a loose end then why not pop in for a while?

Of course, if you'd rather stick to a more traditional café, you'll find plenty of great places to get a hot drink in the area around Old Street, with the trendy neighbourhoods of Shoreditch and Hoxton located just a short walk away to the east, while chic Clerkenwell lies to the west.

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