What?: Everything about this place sounded promising. There was the tasteful monochrome soft-play structure a la Barking’s The Idol. There was the on-site wellness spa. I’m still not entirely sure what a brasserie is but this place claimed to have a “premium” one. It sounded like a frigging dream come true, but the really bizarre thing was that I’d heard it from three entirely separate sources that it was um… not great. Oddly though, no one seemed to be able to pinpoint what exactly it was about this place that was off, aside from the food not being good and the vibe being weird. To be honest this made me much more intrigued than if everyone had told me it was incredible and I was keen to try it for myself, but still understandably terrified.
Actually the service here is so bad it’s kind of comical. In fact I thought it might have been closed on the day we visited even though the doors were open since the guy on the desk asked “can I help you?” like it was a synonym of “go fuck yourself”. Said guy then proceeded to charge me twice for an already extortionately priced play session, two thimbles of mediocre coffee and a stale cake; roll his eyes when I showed him the mistake on my banking app; offer no apology other than “I hate this till”; and finally grudgingly explain to me that the outstanding £17.50 would be credited to my account within five working days. Actually he did eventually apologise, but only when I told him that all of this was extremely annoying. I complained to (presumably) the owner five working days later when the refund still hadn’t happened and in fairness she was very apologetic and offered me a free play session the following weekend, but I politely declined because argh.
So, the “brasserie”. I just Googled the word brasserie because, like I said, I don’t really know what it means (it’s always just made me think of brass and bras and it’s unlikely either has anything to do with it) but as it turns out Google doesn’t really seem to know either, so then I Google Imaged the word brasserie and it confirmed the vague sense I had that brasseries are sort of fancy and mostly involve napkins and yeah, this place ain’t a brasserie. So what is it then? A play cafe with soft play and a couple of treatment rooms? Well, yeah. And tbh what’s wrong with that? The staff might be horrific but it’s actually an alright little play centre, with decent soft play, as soft play goes; a cute baby area within the soft play; a separate little house play area and a massive covered garden at the back containing another play area – the latter of which needed a bit of TLC, but it was still pretty cool. Actually the kids loved it, because why wouldn’t they? No one had tried to sell it to them as a brasserie and member-centric family wellness spa.
Ok so I didn’t actually try out this “spa”, which as far as I could see consisted of a couple of sheds out in the garden (and I didn’t want to either after seeing the way my mate on the front desk spoke to the poor woman who’d come for a relaxing massage); and I didn’t try the food. But, based on the fairly uncomfortable hour I spent here watching my kids play and thinking about what I was going to write in my review (given that I feel bad being mean about small businesses but also I’m giving you my money so could you at least try and make our experience not shit), my biggest annoyance about this place is the way it’s hyped up to be something it clearly isn’t. It’s not a “premium brasserie”, as its website would have you believe, nor does it contain “Montessori play zones” or have a “lovable, caring and enchanting aesthetic”, whatever the hell that means. Kids will probably have a nice time here. It’s a perfectly fine play cafe that also offers treatments if you’re lucky enough to have someone around to look after your kids while you indulge, and if it would just accept that that’s all it is – that and fire its team of half-arsed staff – it would be absolutely fine. As it is, and apparently it’s fucking Champney’s, it’s well… not great.
Where?: Childsplay can be found at Unit 2, 4 Gatton Road, Tooting and is a four-minute walk from Tooting Broadway tube.
Best Bits: The play areas are cool and I do love me some black and white soft play.
Worst Bits: The staff. Everything else is salvageable… ish.
Facilities: Cafe, baby changing, step-free access, play areas, treatment rooms.
Price: It doesn’t say on the website but I think it was around £6 for Babu and £3 for Roma
Would We Come Back?: God no.
Babu swings in the outdoor play area at Childsplay Tooting.