What?: Wow, this is one fancy-pants play cafe. I kind of loved it here but at the same time it was so beautiful with such nice facilities I was constantly slightly terrified that me or one of my brood might break something. Thankfully the staff were very lovely, with the husband of one of the owners who was there with their kid immediately jumping to my rescue when I couldn’t fathom the baby gate that opened into the cafe. As it turned out there were not one, not two, not three but four bloody impossible baby gates in this place: one on the main door, one on the special baby area, one on the buggy park room and one at the top of the stairs leading down to the toilet and studio. Absolute pain in the arse, but rather that than have a repeat of the time Babu fell down a full flight of 15 wooden stairs at a play cafe in Camden because there was no baby gate (also probably slightly my fault and even if it wasn’t I’ve blamed myself ever since even though she was fine and remains fine).
Anyway, the copious baby gates are a pretty good indicator that this place does things properly. The food looks insane. I only had an iced coffee (more like a coffee milkshake) and a muffin but both were delicious, and I noticed on their social media that they now do a smooshed avocado and halloumi open-sandwich thing, which is really positive news. The cafe in general looks pretty insane too, with plush decor, wall-mounted custom-made toys and a really beautiful little baby area filled with top-of-the-range equipment including a Misioo monochrome ball pit and a Charlie Crane wooden rocker. My only slight issue with the baby-only area was what the spig are you meant to do with older siblings, but it was very quiet when we visited and the staff member on duty was more than happy for Babu to hang out with us while the baby chilled in the bouncy chair.
Back to the baby gates though, because they became more than slightly annoying when Babu, who was only recently toilet trained at the time, suddenly very urgently needed a poo, and we had to very quickly gather up the baby, our bags and the potty, then open and close three baby gates in quick succession and rush down the stairs before Babu crapped her pants. Only by the time we got down there she’d decided she didn’t actually need a poo at all (we went through this rigmarole another four times before leaving) but I was mega impressed with the plush and beautifully clean toilet, which even had a tiny toddler seat built into it. Next to the toilet there’s a big, bright and airy studio that hosts interesting-sounding classes including kids’ mindfulness, adult bellydancing, dance for pregnant women through to new mums, kids’ drama and women’s boxercise, plus about a dozen other different sessions. You can also hire out the entire cafe for parties on Sundays, when it’s reserved solely for private hire and offers complete party packages.
Where?: The Parent Hood can be found at 87-89 Chiswick High Rd; a six-minute walk from Turnham Green Station. It’s open Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm.
Best Bits: Lovely if you fancy taking your little one somewhere a bit nicer than all the usual slightly skeggy kids’ haunts, plus no one judges you if you need to sit and send some emails because your kids are perfectly safe (thanks to the many, many baby gates) just wandering around the cafe.
Worst Bits: I was given a timer for an hour of play, which turned out to be more than long enough but I was still a bit stressed out wondering when it was going to go off and I’d have to fork out another £6.25.
Facilities: Baby area for babies under 12 months, buggy park, toilet with built-in toddler seat, baby changing. No step-free access to the toilet and I seem to remember there being a step or two up to the cafe but I may have made that up.
Price: One hour of playtime costs £2.25 for babies aged 0-6 months and £5 for ages 6 months to 5 years. Siblings go half price (presumably the younger one). We went during happy hour (1-3pm weekdays) and got an hour’s free play.
Would We Come Back?: Definitely… next time we’re in Chiswick (which is never).
Babu plays with the fiddle board at The Parent Hood, Chiswick.