THE 6 BEST BABY-FRIENDLY CAFÉS
It’s a curious thing that coffee shop regulars never seem to appreciate the dulcet tones of a screaming newborn whilst sipping on their flat whites. You may get a sympathetic glance (win!) from a fellow parent whilst manoeuvring the buggy out of the way at your local coffee joint, but by and large there’s a lot of glaring and tut-tutting involved.
Suddenly feeling unwelcome in coffee shops is something that is probably familiar territory for many of you, especially those of you who are new to parenting. You become acutely aware that rather than sharing the excitement of your recent transition to parenthood, many people see your new bundle of joy as an inconvenient obstacle standing between them and their caffeine fix.
The shift from charming and modern coffee shops to the traditional ‘child-friendly’ haunts is not always easy to navigate. It doesn’t always seem like there are many places that bridge the gap between the garish, windowless soft plays and your local trendy cafe.
So here are our recommendations of cafés and restaurants around London where you can grab a decent coffee and nice food without nervously counting down the minutes until tantrum o’clock.
Let us know if we've missed your favourite off the list!
1. Full of Beans (North London)
Full of Beans describes itself as a play café but is a far cry from the subterranean soft plays you have no doubt experienced. A welcoming, friendly environment with lovely decor, plenty of seating, great coffee and delicious food. There's also parking for buggies, costumes for dressing-up, children's classes, story time, chalkboard tables for budding artists (both children and grown-ups...) and a wall full of toys and books. The best part? As part of their house rules there is strictly no tut-tutting allowed!
2. Gracelands Café (North London)
Gracelands is a family run café/restaurant with a very simple philosophy. It’s all about cooking amazing quality produce from fresh, and serving it in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The decor is (unsurprisingly given the name) Americana in style and there’s a great sense of community, great food.
3. Arts Depot (North London)
The Arts Depot is a visual and performing arts venue which prides itself on being family friendly. Since it opened in 2004, it has become a real hit amongst new mums in North London who flock to it for its bright and spacious café and programme of activities for the whole family. The café has a soft play area with a chalkboard wall, a book corner for little ones to explore and space for grown-ups to relax.
4. Frizzante Café (East London)
Frizzante is an Italian deli/cafe in the Hackney City Farm, which won the Time Out London Award for Best Family Restaurant in 2004 – 2005 and continues to be a great place for parents and their babies to enjoy a coffee, long breakfast or delicious lunch. There are also great activities on the farm for you to enjoy with your baby.
5. The Lido Cafe (South London, featured in photos above)
This relaxed poolside café in between Brixton and Herne Hill is a must for new parents. Simple, modern, seasonal food (we recommend the quinoa porridge), lovely spacious terrace and unusual art decor design is an ideal combo for an afternoon out with your baby and friends.
6. Teahouse theatre (South London)
The relaxed approach at the Teahouse theatre makes it a fantastic place to go for a bite to eat with your little one. With their home-made, locally-sourced food and welcoming staff, it isn’t hard to see why they won the Time Out Love London Awards 2014. We love their description of the café on their website ‘We will not hurry you. If you want to have a meeting, we will not disturb you. If you are ‘working from home’, we have wifi. If you have children, we have highchairs, a chest of toys, and milkshakes. We always have the daily papers, so please, relax, and share in what we are trying to create, take a load off, and have a cuppa.’