What?: As huge fans of Purple Dragon, the posh Chelsea/Putney family members’ club we will never in a million years be members of except in the event of a serious lottery win, I was super psyched about N, a similarly stylish but rather less pricy and exclusive club and nursery located in Hackney’s just as lovely, leafy Stoke Newington enclave.
Jammy bastards that we are, we managed to snag free evening and weekend membership for the whole of 2018 thanks to a timely introductory offer but the going rate is just £550 a year/£50 a month – roughly 80% cheaper than Purple Dragon. Okay so that might not get you PD’s pool, pottery wheels and state-of-the-art percussion instruments, but it does get you off-peak entry to all club areas, plus access (for a fee) to its seven-day fitness programme and its members’ talks and events.
We didn’t book any extras for our initial visit – partly because we just wanted to have a recce without being overwhelmed by activities and partly because the only thing going on that day was a Little Kickers football session that wasn’t happening until quite late in the afternoon. That said, there are a variety of classes available to book over the weekend, with child-friendly options including Parent & Child Yoga, messy play from A Fine Mess, Buggy Run Club, Ballet and Sunday Storytime.
The club is a nursery during the week so half the rooms are school rooms and out of bounds on weekends (including the one pictured, but that was before we’d realised…), but you’re free to spend as much time as you like in the soft-play area with its pristine ball pool and poolside deck chairs, the lofty film club where kid-friendly movies are shown twice a day, and the chilled cafe with its dreamy brunch menu (we just had sourdough toast and jam and even that was ridiculously good).
I know I always bang on about the importance of a place’s parental focus but I really do believe in it. In my experience a hangout/shop/activity’s ability to catch a parent’s attention as much as it catches their child’s really is the difference between it being immediately forgotten and it going straight to the top of the must-come-back list. N falls easily into the second category thanks to its helpful staff, aesthetic beauty, convenience and great mix of educational activities – not necessarily the things kids will care about (just stick Bab in a ball pool and she’s happy) but all so, so necessary for parents.
Where?: N is located at 5 Defoe Road and is an 11-minute walk from Stoke Newington Overground station.
Best Bits: The amazing, Sugababe-designed (Siobhan Donaghy is an interior designer now) interiors. Also the toast.
Worst Bits: There weren’t many classes happening on the Sunday we attended, but we’ll be back.
Facilities: Buggy parking, cafe, baby change.
Would We Come Back?: Well we’re members now, so yeah.
Bab and Sprog explore The Clouds at N Family Club.