What?: ‘Little’ because it’s for little people, ‘Highness’ because… actually I’m not really sure what that’s about. I suppose it sounds a bit like Highbury, which where it is. Is it meant to be like a ‘little princess’ reference? It has a bouncy-castle-type thing so maybe… highness… castle… I dunno. Anyway it’s essentially a cafe with a play area at the back, but much better than that sounds because it’s soft play and everyone loves soft play.
Where?: Highbury Park, just a 10-minute walk from Arsenal (Piccadilly) and Drayton Park (National Rail), and 15 minutes from Highbury & Islington (Victoria and Ginger) or Canonbury (Ginger). I do feel like this is an incredibly random location for what, as far as I can tell, is London’s only dedicated play cafe (as opposed to a regular cafe that also caters to kids), but it’s an easy one to get to and close to two of my favourite kids’ boutiques; Essex Road’s Molly-Meg and Olive Loves Alfie on Stoke Newington Church Street. We walked from Highbury & Islington through Highbury Fields, stopping off for a swing in the awesome play park on our way home.
Discovery: I Googled “play cafe London” and this was basically all that came up, which makes no sense to me whatsoever. I’ve seen other people drinking coffee before so that’s definitely a thing, plus I see people out and about with children quite a bit so I can’t be the only one who has one. I also refuse to believe that I’m the only person selfish enough to want to combine my baby’s interests (crawling, licking stuff) with my own (caffeinating myself), as opposed to sitting in a circle with 20 other mums and babies, clapping along to a protracted rendition of the Hokey Cokey led by a militantly enthusiastic host who probably despises children. If only for the preservation of my sanity I’m hopeful that it’s only a matter of time before play cafes achieve the one-on-every-corner ubiquity of Pret-a-Manger, although I’ll probably regret saying that in a few years’ time.
Best Bits: Big, bright, bouncy soft play area complete with ball pool and padded walls so you don’t have to worry about your kids sliding out and smacking their heads on the floor. Really good coffee and baked goods.
Worst Bits: The cafe is split into two rooms, with one seating area at the front by the counter and another in the back room next to the play area. While this means that the front cafe can remain open when the soft play is being hired out for a party, it did feel like a bit of a waste of space since everybody understandably wanted to sit in the back with their kids, leaving the front room completely empty. Also I mean yeah they do nice food and everything but, given that it calls itself a play cafe, I feel like the whole point is slightly lost if the play area is closed. We live four miles away so definitely wouldn’t bother trekking here if there was no soft play, and if you’re local there are other nice cafes nearby – including the not-so-little Highness tearoom down the road. I would be inclined to turn the whole back room into a play area and hire the whole thing out for more £££, but what do I know.
What’s on the Menu?: We all really enjoyed the warm goat’s cheese and spinach muffin with cream cheese. I also had a really good brownie. There are loads of delicious-looking baked things, including cakes, scones and pastries, as well as more substantial brunch food.
Would We Come Again?: Defo, heffo.
Bab plays in the Little Highness soft play area