What?: We visited Kidspace Croydon on a whim at the end of the summer holidays and enjoyed it so much we decided to visit their sister site in Romford two days later. While the main play frames are fairly dissimilar, the two centres share numerous similarities that made writing separate reviews seem a bit extra – the main comparisons being that they’re both better suited over-5s than toddlers (though both have small, adorable under-5s areas too), and are both prohibitively expensive (but then name me a decent soft play that isn’t, tbh).
As far as I can tell, the Romford site is only slightly older than the Croydon one, but its design gives off some seriously jazzy nineties sci-fi vibes, a la Red Dwarf via The Fifth Element, but imagine both are set in Romford. As with the Croydon branch, very little here is actually soft – bar the toddler area. Instead, visitors are treated to a plastic-fantastic vertical maze layered with rainbow-hued tunnels and a lot of terrifyingly steep tube slides. Inside the structure is a big, squishy three-storey-high arena filled with softball guns and cannons; then alongside all this you’ll find climbing walls, a go-kart track and a large cafe. Again, all of this can also be found in the Croydon branch, speaking of which…
Croydon was definitely my favourite of the two centres, despite the fact that we didn’t drag Bab Dad to this one, which meant shepherding both kids around what is not a particularly accessible system for families with different-aged kids by myself. The main wooden structure is epic, but also a logistical nightmare for both under-4s and adults. Unfortunately the five year old was not up for exploring it on her own, so in we all went, with Mummy repeatedly getting stuck in tunnels and the toddler having to be hoisted to the top like a big bag of sand. Thankfully there are fewer slides here than at the Romford branch (I’m such a wimp when it comes to slides), and the Toddler Village was interesting enough that the big one was happy to stay in there for the whole of the second hour of our visit – like the Romford branch, it has an interactive sand box, small slides, a two-storey play frame and lots of squishy bits – but I think she’d be up for a trip sans-two-year-old in the next year or so.
In sum, I think the two branches are different enough that if you can get to both I’d do it, but if I had to pick one I’d vote for Croydon – largely because the play frame is just that bit cooler (and obviously because it’s a whole 51p cheaper per child. Like I said, neither is great if you’re one adult accompanying two or more children who are on different sides of five, so if you are able to bring along an extra adult then do so (at least they’re the second-cheapest tickets).
Inside the softball arena at Kidspace Croydon
Where?: The Romford branch can be found at The Brewery, Waterloo Road, RM1 1AU and is a 12-minute walk from Romford Overground and mainline station, while the Croydon branch is located at The Colonnades, 619 Purley Way, CR0 4RQ and is a 20-minute bus ride from East Croydon mainline station.
When?: Romford is open 10am-7pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-7.30pm Friday-Sunday. Croydon is open 10am-7pm every day.
Cost?: Croydon: from £8.99 for 1-2s and disabled children, from £12.99 for 3-12s, from £2.99 for adults and free for under-1s. Romford: from £9.00 for 1-2s and disabled children, from £13.50 for 3-12s, from £4 for adults and free for under-1s. And no, the pricing makes no sense to me either.
Where to next?: While sessions only last for two hours, these places are exhausting so I wouldn’t recommend anything too strenuous afterwards. If you’re heading to the Croydon branch then why not combine with a trip to the amazing playgound at Canons Leisure Centre Mitcham; or for Romford, the new playgrounds by Yinka Ilori and Eva Rothschild in Parsloes Park are brilliant.
Main Image: Babu versus the climbing wall at Kidspace Romford.