When I was a child weekends didn’t get much better than a trip to the local pizzeria. Nowadays, a margherita and a Knickerbocker glory just don’t quite cut it; private members’ clubs for your little darlings are becoming de rigueur.
So much so that Purple Dragon is planning to open two more London venues in Notting Hill and Marylebone, as well as numerous locations abroad. Clearly they are on to something. I went to the only up and running club to see what the fuss is about.
A stone’s throw from fashionable Sloane Square (where else) I discover a 13,000 sq ft nippers’ nirvana, housing state of the art music facilities, a swimming pool, art room, cooking station and soft-play all under one Chelsea roof.
Despite the prohibitively expensive membership fees, the regulars are not all Bonpoint and Chanel, certainly the scent of money is lingering in the air, but this is a relaxed family affair.
Premier membership, the all singing and all dancing variety (literally), is a whopping £4850 per year for the first child, £3000 for the second and the rest go free. Supposedly there is a waiting list, although it’s hard to imagine it’s very long at these prices.
As one would expect, the facilities are fantastic. The spacious café area complete with mini volcano, dressing-up clothes and a rotating selection of toys will keep even the most demanding youngsters entertained. There’s also a custom-built soft play section with trampoline and slides and gaming area for older children.
Despite marketing itself as “a place that allows the whole family to be together, without pressure or compromise,” there are a surprising number of nannies in the mix.
‘Learning through play’ is a core philosophy at Purple Dragon and the club’s founder, Sharai Meyers, has created a range of signature classes such as Baby Beats, Da Vinci’s Workshop and for real hipsters there’s Super Skateboarders.
These teacher-led classes last 45 minutes and involve age appropriate fun and discovery using art, crafts, science, language, design, cooking, messy play, music and movement.
As much as I tried, it’s hard not to fall in love with the place. Watching Magnus play the electric guitar for the first time whilst one of the affable Bretton striped ‘play buddies’ patiently teaches him a few chords is great.
The fact I can leave him to his own devices whilst I have a drink – non-alcoholic of course – and read the papers is even better.
Grown-ups are well catered for; there is valet parking (ensuring no awkward car park bust-ups), a well-stocked library and relaxation pods – although there’s no escaping the squeals and shrieks of the club’s contented customers.
Over-indulgent it may be but if money is no object and you have visions of your little princess becoming best buddies with North West, offspring of Kanye West, then this is the place for you.
For more information visit the website: Purpledragonplay.com