What?: Play cafes come and go, but if ever we’ve been rooting for one to go the distance then it’s this Twickenham gem. I know I’m pretty ridiculous when it comes to missioning across London, but I promise this place is worth the schlep. You do have to be five or younger to play here (it’s written into their licence), but kids who fall into that category can choose from two Scandi-chic play frames – a small one for crawlers up to young toddlers, and a more challenging structure for slightly older ones, complete with springy trampoline tunnel and ball pool.
The name probably doesn’t give it away, but Cheeky Chops is just as much for the grown-ups as it is for the little ones – and not just because the latter are kept occupied while their big people enjoy a decent coffee while it’s still hot. The cafe decor is just as dreamy as the soft play, with earthy pink walls, tastefully fitted toilets and plenty of plywood. The homemade cakes are ridiculous (check out their signature rainbow layer cake and vegan chocolate biscoff brownies), and even the fussiest toddlers should be appeased by the five-item kids’ meal deal that allows them to choose not one, not two but three snacks.
To top it all off, owners Mike and Ruth breathe such joy and warmth into the place with their unusually excellent customer service (everyone is personally greeted upon entry and helped to lift their buggies onto the – frankly ingenious – double-decker buggy park), you’ll probably be booking in your next visit while you’re still on the premises (we were back within a month of our initial visit, and we live 12 miles away – which in London might as well be a different country).
Where?: Find Cheeky Chops at 37-39 York Street, TW1 3LP – just a five-minute walk from Twickenham station.
When?: Three slots Monday-Friday: 9.30-11am, 3.30-5pm or stay for 90 minutes between 11.30 and 3pm; and two slots on Saturdays: 9-10.30am or 11am-12.30pm.
Cost?: Free for adults and babies aged 0-6 months, £3.50 for babies aged 7-12 months and £6.95 for 1-5s.
Where to next?: Orleans House Gallery, Champion’s Wharf Play Beach, Strawberry Woods, The Alligator’s Mouth children’s bookshop, Petersham Nurseries, GoBoat Kingston.
Roma explores the younger kids’ play fram at Cheeky Chops Play Cafe, Twickenham.