5 OF THE WORLD'S COOLEST KIDS' CAFES
Hanging pods, bespoke baby food + cosy, hexagonal hidey-holes. By Jennifer Goulding
Four tiny colouring pencils and a picture. Perhaps, if you are very lucky, a box of virus-laden toys. Oh, and chicken nuggets, always chicken nuggets. This is the average child-friendly café.
But it doesn’t have to be so. Behold the future...
FII FUN HOUSE
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Should the name evoke unfortunate memories of the shouty kids’ game show and, worse still, Pat Sharp’s mullet, fear not. This fun house is a blessed haven of calm, thanks partly to a smart choice of materials (cork, local wood), which look good and help to absorb sound, but also to the vast streams of natural light and the clean, unfussy design.
Unified by a repeated house motif, the space is playful without being childlike and is full of whimsical touches, such as swinging chairs and hanging pods. Babies have a dedicated play area and children a space to draw and make; both are supervised so adults can keep an eye on their charges from a distance.
KIDS CAFE PICCOLO
The attention to detail at Kids Cafe Piccolo is frankly astonishing, everything from the quirky illustrations on the drinking straws to the neat boxes of perfectly-rendered wooden food at the children's play shop will have design lovers swooning.
Its facilities are equally impressive. Cafe aside, there are lockers for the general crap parents need to lug around, and for their offspring an indoor playground complete with mini sports court and slide, a playroom, the aforementioned play shop, and a library. The scheme is imaginative yet pared back; the epitome of nursery-chic.
9 ¾ BOOKSTORE + CAFE
Cosy hexagonal hidey-holes are the genius feature of this warm, welcoming bookstore and cafe. What kid could resist climbing into one of these perfect, cushioned nooks?
Offspring safely ensconced, the book-loving parent is free to browse, or just sit and soak up the convivial atmosphere over a cup of the finest Colombian coffee in peace. NB: Does ‘tetas’ mean what I think it does?
Improbably located in an ancient building in the Lithuanian capital’s medieval old town, Kukumuku is a lesson in entertaining the modern kid. In addition to the inevitable play areas, which include a library, drawing wall, swings, a car ‘kingdom’ and Lego room, there is also a theatre for concerts, fairy-tale inspired plays and creative workshops.
The space itself is serene, however, with low-key touches such as pendant lights. And no begging to use the microwave here, the menu counts bespoke baby purees among its well-balanced dishes.
Meet Phill, he is the 3.7m-tall model elephant who stars as centrepiece of this pleasingly bizarre centre in Bucharest. Ambitiously, it combines fine dining with child-pleasing entertainment. Upstairs is the restaurant, downstairs is the café, with soft play and a multi-purpose room for children’s classes and shows.
The design is inspired by Manga comics and vinyl, with a hint of Sixties kitsch. The children’s food is rather less radical, but there are some less predictable options, such as four-cheese tortellini and grilled salmon and vegetables, alongside the usual suspects, including mini-chicken schnitzel, close relative of the chicken nugget. Alas, some things never change.