Aimed just as much at parents as little ones, there's a new crop of stylish soft plays opening up across the UK...
Soft play centres are notoriously garish… and let’s be honest can sometimes be a little bit grubby. But just because you’re parent, it doesn’t mean that you want to spend every weekend buried in a skittle coloured ball pit, or hanging out on a sticky crash mat. Thankfully, there is a new breed of stylish UK soft plays and play cafes popping up across the country. Beautifully designed and complete with Scandi-inspired toys (and all-important artisan coffee!), these places will keep parents and toddlers happy alike…
Cheeky Chops Play Cafe, Twickenham
Founded by Twickenham-based parent duo Ruth and Mike, Cheeky Chops Play Cafe has it all – style, great customer service, and a pretty good cup of coffee. Under fives will love the two plywood and primary-colour soft play areas (featuring a ball pool, soft blocks, tunnels, and several slides) and you’ll enjoy the Scandi-chic decor of the cafe.
Bambino City, Dagenham
Newly opened play cafe Bambino City in Dagenham is about a stylish as they come. There’s two interconnected play areas – one side aimed at little ones aged 0-2 with a ball pit and lots of giant cuddly toys, and the other side for ages 2-6 with a slide and climbing area. Parents can hang back at the cafe tables and enjoy a delicious selection of cakes, sandwiches and drinks (we had the vegan chocolate cake and was delicious!). Definitely play cafe that you won’t mind spending a few hours at.
Tiny Tetley Studio, Leeds
Designed by Yorkshire artist and early years specialist Stephanie Jefferies, the Tiny Tetley Studio in Leeds brings together contemporary art and play. Imagine being let loose in an art gallery and given permission to play on the installations and you get what the Tiny Tetley is all about. Situated on the second floor of the historic Tetley building, under fives (and their grown-ups) can explore a bespoke sound installation by Buffalo Sound Design, and super cool play structures designed and built in collaboration with Three Create. We love all the thoughtful little touches (including crocheted breastfeeding aids from Leeds Bosom Buddies) and there’s a pretty good cafe too.
Spinning Top, Halifax
Set up by mama-of-two Melissa Edge, the Spinning Top in Halifax couldn’t be further from a traditional soft play. The dreamy space is filled with covet-worthy toys and stylish nursery decor galore. Little ones are invited to discover STEM and Montessori-inspired activities, role play areas, and sensory play equipment – with educational toys from some of our favourite brands including Lovevery, Tender Leaf Toys, Small Foot, and TickiT . This is one indoor play area that you won’t mind spending many a weekday morning hanging out in.
Macaroni Penguin, East London
Based in East London’s Royal Wharf, Macaroni Penguin’s unique soft play area is one of the most stylish indoor play centres we’ve come across in London. The multi-level wooden play structure has plenty for little ones to explore including a sensory pod, observatory area, as well as multiple tunnels and slides. There’s also a toy market stall, a reading corner, and a cafe area serving bubble tea and waffles. Aside from play sessions, they also offer various different classes – including Drama, Spanish, and Karate.
Skyboat Cafe, Bristol
Set up by local mums Lara and Stef, Skyboat cafe is a popular destination for young families on Bristol’s independent high street Coldharbour Road. The super cool soft play space has a custom-built play structure – with climbing walls, tunnels, a slide, and nets. There’s also a crash mat area that’s great for younger kids to crawl around and explore. Whilst the kids play, you can enjoy the cafe – which serves delicious coffee, healthy dishes, and artisan bakes. The mastermind behind the kitchen is co-founder Stefani who has worked in Michelin kitchens and alongside some of the world’s most renowned chefs.
Maggie and Rose, Kensington, Chiswick and Islington London
Maggie and Rose is a private members club for families with outposts in Kensington, Chiswick and Islington, as well as various destinations in Asia. Clubhouse members get access to various impeccably designed adventure play areas, soft play spaces, and sensory rooms that are designed to support early years development. There’s also cinema snugs, big kids dens, roof top veggie patches, and a weekly timetable of music, art, and sports activities. Parents are well-catered for too – with stylish eateries to relax in. The Islington club also has a cafe that’s open to the general public and they’ve recently launched shorter term memberships (3 and 6 months).
Hobbledown Heath, West London
The Great Barn at Hobbledown Heath is billed as ‘West London’s biggest indoor play centre’. There’s all the usual tunnels, slides and levels to climb, as well as digital and interactive play and a dedicated area for under 3s. What we particularly love is all the unusual design details – including the zany crocheted ‘whammock’ – and the adjoining cafe area, where you can grab a cup of coffee under a canopy of twinkling hanging lamps.