What?: I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve taken either of my kids to baby cinema, and I can count the number of times I’d taken Roma on one finger… because it was once. Don’t get me wrong, film screenings organised exclusively for the parents of tiny humans who are too young to notice that Robert De Niro just got shot in the face or that Ben Affleck’s got his willy out are beautiful things, it’s just that actually managing to achieve anything at all with a baby in tow is hard enough without expecting them to sit still and be quiet for two hours too (I mean, I’m sure no one actually expects anyone’s baby to be quiet for two hours but it’s still mega stressful when you can sense yours is about to lose their shit – sometimes literally).
Anyway, Roma started crawling about three months ago and I was all “ok, that’s the end of baby cinema for this lifetime. Maybe one day I can take my grandkids or something”. But then I had an email from Selfridge’s telling me about their new cinema and asking if we’d like to attend a babes-in-arms screening of Little Women the following Wednesday, and at that moment all rationality went out the window, as if often does when people offer us really cool sounding experiences that are otherwise totally impractical.
So along we went to the babes-in-arms screening, both of us knowing fully well that there was no way Roma would actually stay in my arms for longer than it took to neck 150ml of Aptamil follow-on, and that each and every one of the toys I’d packed to occupy her had no real purpose other than to take up space in my bag. I actually tried to convince a friend with an even-older-newly-walking-technically-a-toddler-baby to join us but she politely declined after seeing the online seating plan which seemed to suggest that the screen was totally packed and we wouldn’t even be able to sit together. So yeah, I was bricking it; completely convinced that it would be rammed, everyone else would have a tiny sleeping baby, Roma would crawl off and get wedged between the seats and I wouldn’t be able to find her in the dark, and we’d end up leaving 20 minutes in. God I’m such a pessimist.
Obviously it was absolutely fine (but if I hadn’t worried it would definitely have been a disaster, right?). The door, desk and steward staff were all lovely, helpful and welcoming. The screen was spacious, well-lit and actually pretty empty, with plenty of room for Roma to play on the floor in front of me – though obviously with the contents of my handbag and not her own toys. Admittedly the room was mostly inhabited by mums with tiny, sleeping babies, but mine wasn’t the only crawler and she actually only buggered off down the aisle a couple of times and was fairly happy to be retrieved. She did start to get a bit fractious towards the end because it was a long film (145 minutes) and she needed a nap, but I still basically managed to watch the whole thing, which felt like such a win with such a ginormous baby in attendance.
So what is it about The Cinema at Selfridge’s that makes it different to any other cinema? Well, while I would say I’ve only ever been to baby cinema at The Everyman, which is also fairly fancy pants, this place is so swanky it does a pretty good job of making you feel like a film star, albeit one with thrown-up Bickiepeg smeared down your top. There’s the stripy entrance hall with Wade the delightful American doorman; the plush, velvety foyer with the posh sofas, classic film posters, coffee bar and little sweet shop; the screens with their acres of foot room and little tables for your drinks and snacks; and the stewards with their awesome flight attendant-style hats – all very cool, all very Wes Anderson.
My one hangup was that, while I was pointed in the direction of said coffee bar and sweet shop to load up pre-movie, I’d already abandoned my buggy in the buggy park and needed both hands to carry my gigantic baby into the screen. While this isn’t the cheapest morning out to begin with, I’d still happily pay extra to have some coffee and cake brought to my seat like they do at The Everyman – I mean when in Rome, right? On reflection I’m sure I could have recruited someone nice to follow me into the screen with a cup of coffee, but I still think having this built into the price would be an amazing finishing touch to what’s already a pretty special experience.
Where and When?: Babes in arms screenings take place on Wednesday mornings (check the site for films and times). The Cinema at Selfridges has its own dedicated entrance on Duke Street and is a three-minute walk from Bond Street tube.
Best Bits: I could wank on about how much I love the general concept of babes-in-arms film screenings until the cows come home, but this cinema is a particularly nice one to enjoy it in. Friendly staff, comfortable surroundings, nice toilets, Wes Anderson vibes etc.
Worst Bits: I was so gutted I couldn’t get coffee.
Facilities: Baby changing, step-free access, buggy park, refreshment bar, sweet shop.
Cost: £15 but we were invited to attend free of charge.
Would We Come Back?: Roma is one in three weeks and this is for babies aged under 12 months, so sadly probably not. I would absolutely urge everyone with a baby and free Wednesday mornings to make the most of this while they still can though.
Roro is over the moon that she can finally nap, post-Babes in Arms screening, The Cinema at Selfridge’s.
Disclaimer: tickets were gifted, but my reviews are always completely (sometimes painfully) honest.