When I heard that a Little Street was opening in West Byfleet I could not have been more excited! Little Street is a play centre for children, set up like a mini town, designed to encourage imagination and role play. While I find soft play a difficult experience with my 3 year old, I knew that this kind of role play adventure would be much more his kind of thing and I was really excited at the prospect of one opening up locally to us.
Little Street isn’t your standard ‘turn up and play’ activity – they have set play sessions which you are encouraged to book onto. This means that the space is never overcrowded or intimidating for your child. At the end of each session the play area is returned to it’s pristine state, ready for the next group of adventurers to enjoy.
It’s set up as a series of rooms, set around a main play area – a construction yard, a doctors, a supermarket, a school, and a stage area with dressing up clothes and musical instruments. The rooms are really well planned, with lots of windows and clear views inside, meaning that you can keep an eye on your child from a reasonable distance and let them explore themselves. There are also numerous activities within the main play area – a large wooden steam train, a post box, police station, pony yard, and petrol station – so there really is lots to amuse little ones.
It was lovely for me to see Max play here. He’s quite a sensitive child, and will often take a while to warm up to a new place, and particularly at soft play centres, he will want me to trail around right behind him. But here, he was more than happy to go off and explore, after just a little bit of encouragement at first. I loved that I could hang back a bit and watch him play, while still being close enough and visible for him if he wanted me.
Everything is really well planned out with so many little touches which bring the experience to life for children. Max’s favourite area was the supermarket, and he loved playing shop – especially using the little scanner on the till. And he was fascinated by the steam train, with it’s ‘coal’ – little black balls which could be collected in a basket and emptied into the engine. As well as being equipped with suitcases, tickets, and walkie-talkies. It’s those little things that I’d never have thought to include myself!
While Little Street is designed for little ones, they’ve also considered the practicalities for adults. Max was really keen for me to get inside the wooden steam train – a bit of a push at 34 weeks pregnant, but I was assured by the lovely staff that it had been designed with adults in mind too!
The layout has been well considered for parents too. In the reception area there is plenty of seating where you can sit with a coffee, and there is a clear view into the main play area, so you can keep an eye on your more independent children without hovering. Toilets were located in the reception area, so no huge trek when your child decides they need a wee, and had kids seats and steps as well as adult seats – always a nice touch. The reception area also has a baby section, so if you have a baby as well, you can attempt to keep them occupied there.
Role play is so important for pre-schoolers, encouraging them to play at real life tasks, developing language skills, problem solving, and interacting with other children. I love seeing Max’s imagination develop and he completely embraced every area we explored. We were there just over an hour and the time flew by.
Little Street does operate a more formal play arrangement than somewhere like a soft play where you can just turn up at any time. They run 4 sessions a day: 9.30 – 11:00, 11:30-13:00, 13:30-15:00, and 15:30-17:00. It’s recommended that you book before turning up (and I think Little Street is likely to be hugely popular in West Byfleet, so I would definitely recommend booking), and you can book online via their website here. But this means that the sessions are always limited in the number of people who will be there, which to me is a huge benefit.
Overall I was so impressed by our visit today – thank you so much to Little Street for inviting us to your pre-launch, and I have no doubt that Little Street West Byfleet will be every bit as popular as it’s other venues!
Disclosure: We were invited to experience Little Street for free as part of their press pre-opening. But you can guarantee I’m going to be spending lots of time there over the next few years as a paying customer!