Eat your weight in homemade cakes while little ones frolic at Dreamcatcher Play Cafe

Dreamcatcher is now permanently closed.

What?: Well-conceived, cosy kids’ cafe with great community vibe. Dreamcatcher is a lesson in how play cafes should be done, with an upstairs room hosting an interesting programme of kids’ classes during the week and private parties on weekends, and the ground-floor cafe devoted to uninterrupted, 9-5 playtime. The cute play area has been cleverly laid out adjacent to the cafe, meaning adults can enjoy their coffee in peace while simultaneously keeping an eye on their little ones, and the whole space is gated off to prevent unwanted child emancipation.

Where?: Westow Hill, Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace Ginger and mainline station is allegedly a 10-minute walk away, though it’s up a very steep hill so felt more like 30. Gipsy Hill (mainline) is also a 10-minute uphill schlep. At the very least you will have earned cake by the time you get there, and you can trot down the hill with carefree abandon on your way home.

Facilities: Baby-changing; buggy park; kids’ menu; high chairs; quirky toy selection including disconcertingly realistic full-sized labrador, train set, enormous cuddly lion, pint-sized Black & Decker workbench and dressing-up area.

What’s on the Menu?: The ‘Little ‘Uns’ menu includes ‘Kiddie Tapas’ – four items plus a drink for £4.95; ‘Teddy Toast’ with topping; a selection of simple pasta dishes, baby weaning plates (amazing); smashed avocado with things; and handmade sandwiches with crisps. We had a very nice sticky toffee cake and a fairy bun.

Best Bits: The lady on duty was super-friendly and welcoming, and made a real effort to chat to everyone there despite the fact that she was running things single-handedly. The decor is cool and eclectic, with animal cushions, a Tintin poster and comfy chairs creating a fun and homely atmosphere. Needless to say if we lived a bit nearer we’d be spending a lot of time here.

Worst Bits: This is a pretty dinky cafe and was basically full to capacity at 4pm on a Tuesday, which I’m guessing isn’t peak time – not that being in close proximity to everyone else really matters when I’m with Bab since she will approach and mount everyone she sees regardless of how far away they’re sitting.

Would We Come Back?: It’s about 300 stops on the Overground but actually yes, we would.

Bab dreams up her own city in Dreamcatcher, Crystal Palace