Reviews of playgroups and activities in Marylebone

St. Mary’s Toddler and Carer Group

St Mary’s Church, Bryanston Square W1H 1PQ. They run three sessions: Thursdays 9.30-11am, Thursdays 11.30am-1pm and Fridays 10-11.30am. £2 per session or £20 per term. There is a waiting list for places at the early Thursday and Friday sessions but not for the later Thursday session. Call Rachael or Jenny on 0207 258 5040 to find out more and to join the waiting list or register.

  • Great baby and toddler group, with a great big space for children to learn and play, and is well-resourced with different activity centres.
  • Big drawback: there is a mandatory buggy park at the top of a flight of stairs. Your buggy will be parked just inside the door off the street and you have to get you and your children to the lower floor via the stairs or the lift. The group is full and each week everyone happily complies.
  • Great facilities for nappy changes and toilets. Kitchen facilities available, if needed.
  • Espresso machine on site.
  • Tube: Marylebone, Baker Street
  • Bus: 2, 13, 30, 74, 82, 139, 189, 274, 18, 27, 205, 453
  • www.stmaryslondon.com/toddlergroup

This playgroup is the best one in Marylebone, if you can contend with the steps and the buggy park. The group is largely nannies, but lots of local mums do attend. There is a great space and lots of quality resources for a great play session here. The morning is structures and feels a bit like a mini, pre-nursery session: free play for the first hour, then juice and drinks served to seated children for 15 minutes and then song time for the last 15 minutes.

In addition to selling real lattes, the great bonus to this playgroup is that Paddington Gardens Playground (see review below) is located just a few moments walk away. If you take lunch there, they have a few picnic tables in the children’s play area and lots of benches where you can eat. Also, if there is rain, there is a lovely covered gazebo lined with benches where you can easily pass twenty minutes with food and other distractions.

The group limits the number of children in each session and so you need to sign up to a waiting list unless you want to come to the later Thursday session. Contact the Church Office for more information by emailing rachael@stmaryslondon.com or ringing 0207 258 5040. Ring beforehand if you are coming for the first time as occasionally the group is cancelled because of external events in the church.

Portman Centre Drop in Playgroup

Portman Early Childhood Centre/Church Street Children’s Centre, 12 – 18 Salisbury Street, NW8 8DE, 0207 641 5444 or 0207 641 5436, Mondays 9 – 3 with lunch from noon – 1 (bring your own), Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays 9:30 – 3:30 with lunch from noon – 1 (bring you own), free

  •  Amazingly resourced Westminster Children’s Centre, the space is just like a nursery
  • Buggy park is down a flight of stairs with little space for a double buggy, then the playgroup is on the first floor
  • Coffee, tea, food making facilities
  • Excellent changing facilities and toilets
  • Tube: Edgware Road, Marylebone
  • Bus: 6, 16, 98, 332, 414, 139, 189, 2, 453, 18, 205

http://www.portman.org.uk/information.htm

This is an amazing facility that is well staffed and resourced.  The room for the drop in centre has all kinds of wonderful play centres: a home corner, a large and permanent sand box, water tables and toys outside, a home corner with wooden furniture.  Each play session, the staff puts together fascinating tactile activities for the children like a try full of lentils with spoons, pans, funnels for children to pass them through.  There are dressing up areas, a library and an art area with an organized art project.

Further, if you need direction for finding your way around the neighbourhood with children or guidance with sleeping, eating or parenting, the play group is amply staffed to help.

Aside from the stairs, the place is a really nice space to take two children.  Once you are upstairs, there are so many friendly, helping hands that you could easily manage two children there.

The lunch hour is a time when you and your children can sit and share a packed lunch with others in the group.

There is a toy library for borrowing toys and a multi sensory room fir babies that I have not seen or visited, if you ring up they can give you more information about it.

Also, Regent’s Park is not a far walk from the centre.

Club Kids Group

All Soul’s Clubhouse, 141 Cleveland St, W1T 6QG, use the Greenwell Street entreance , 0207 255 9755, Thursdays 10 – 11:45, £2 per child, under 1’s 50p

  •  Very nice and well organized group
  • Great buggy park, just inside the door, next to the hall where the playgroup is held
  • Coffee, tea
  • Changing facilities and toilets
  • Tube: Great Portland Street, Warren Street
  • Bus: 18, 27, 30, 205, 453, 88, C2, 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390, 7

http://www.allsouls.org/ascm/allsouls/static/clubhouse/children.html

This is a very sweet and well organized playgroup.  There is water tray with aprons, a dress up area, art tables with an art project, library, and a large “café” with tables and chairs where parents and carers may sit with the children while they have their fruit and juice at snack time.

After snack time they do some more structured play.  While we were there, they coordinators played a great colour game with the parachute that was great fun for children of different ages and abilities.

There are lots of nannies at this playgroup, but a really important one for meeting local mums, as the area is a bit undeserved.

Also, Regent’s Park is just a short walk away.

Seymore Leisure Centre

General Swim, Seymore Leisure Centre, Seymore Place, W1H 5TJ, 0207 723 8019

  • Buggy friendly, ramp to enter the building, just a little pinch getting through the locker room door
  • Nice locker rooms and changing facilities
  • Not a good pool to take two children to as the water is over 1 metre deep and you climb in from a ladder
  • Tube: Marylebone
  • Bus: 6, 7, 15, 16, 23, 36, 98, 414, 436

http://www.courtneys.co.uk/centres/Seymour

The Seymore Leisure Centre is not what I would classify as a “destination” pool for babies and toddlers, but they do offer lots of times when you can take your child swimming.  The pool is designated more for people to swim laps, so the temperature is cool.

There is also the Jungle Play Area for ages 8 and under, open from 10 – 6 daily.  You need to ring ahead and make sure there are no parties booked for the time you would like to go.

The Jungle Play Area is a room with a giant cushioned climbing frame with slides, ball pits, a really good place to have a great play, adults and children alike.

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