Recently we’ve been making use of Santiago’s fabulous play cafes.
In case you’re new to the concept: you pay an entrance fee per child so they can play in a safe zone full of toys for an unlimited time. If you’re lucky you’ll get a moment of peace to yourself to enjoy a coffee, catch up on emails or chat with adults. Genius!
Below is a round up of those we love. For proper restaurants with a play area, see my separate review here.
This is a favourite among many expat mums. The cafe recently moved to a new locale, but the ethos has stayed much the same, with a lot of wooden toys and recycled materials.
Pros: The perfect layout means you can sip coffee, watching your little ones in the play area in front, or in the garden to the right. The locale is very new, and always clean. Best of all, there’s a lovely outdoor play area, with a sunken trampoline, tree house and slides. Although we haven’t tried them ourselves, the morning play groups seem very well organised too. A new cowork scheme has also been implemented, making a great choice for parents who need to work.
Cons: Parking is a bitch.
For more, click here. Aurelio Gonzalez 3330, Vitacura
This was the first play cafe I discovered here in Chile and it’s my go to when I’m stuck for ideas to entertain my monsters.
Pros: While the layout of the cafe means you can’t see into every space at the same time, there are cameras so you can keep track from the cafe area. It’s always clean and tidy and staff are helpful. The indoor play area is large enough for cooler months too. Its main selling point is its garden with a sandpit, scooter area and play houses – absolutely lovely in summer.
Cons: While they are cameras, if you’re playing outside with one kid, or in one room, you won’t be able to keep track of any siblings in other parts of the cafe. Food options in the cafe are limited; it’s basically snacks and there is very little in the way of allergen free food.
Las Hualtatas 5632, Vitacura. Monday – Saturday, 10am to 7pm. +56 2 2248 1199. www.gluckjuegosycafe.cl
One of the larger play cafes a little further out of town, it’s great for older kids or if you’ve only got one child to look after.
Pros: Its size means that older kids won’t get bored for a long, long time. An explore room with microscopes, creative toys and stories is great for a little downtime and there’s a huge ball pool for letting off steam. A separate room for babies and toddlers means they won’t get trampled on by older kids.
Cons: The rooms are spread out so if you’re looking after a toddler in one room, you won’t be able to keep a track of their older sibling elsewhere. When we were there, internet wasn’t working.
This is a smaller play cafe just off Kennedy autopista.
Pros: Staff are lovely. There is limited parking and more spaces nearby. There’s a decent amount of space for kids to play. There’s a decent, albeit simple menu (the kids menu is rice or pasta with meat, chicken or egg).
Cons: There aren’t actually that many toys in this cafe. It’s more of a cafe with a decent amount of space for kids to play. In the height of summer I imagine that outdoors could get very hot with such limited shade.
Gerónimo de Alderete 1121, Vitacura, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Casa de Juliet
This is a large play cafe in a very central part of Las Condes.
Pros: Staff are lovely and super helpful. There is loads for kids to do. There’s a decent sized garden with mini cars and tractors, a small slide and a trampoline, while indoors there is a dressing up area, a slide and ball pond. WiFi connection is good and there is plenty of space for adults to relax or work indoors or out. It’s also cheaper than msot play cafes ($3,000 per child).
Cons: Some of the toys were quite well worn, but this didn’t put our kids off in the slightest. Although the menu is huge, we personally struggled to find dairy free and non processed dishes. I’m told that there is limited shade in the summer time.
MoMo Coffee and Play
This smaller cafe in a residential part of Las Condes is my husband’s all time fave. In fact I bet he’d come here even without kids.
Pros: There’s a very friendly big black dog whom my kids adore (he’s called Momo). The cafe is handily sandwiched between two small play areas meaning you can keep an eye on your little ones at all times. The food is very good (the tagliatelle is fresh and the salads are not half bad at all). It’s cheap too (just $3,000 per child). Most importantly staff are extremely kind – it’s run by a lovely couple (and their two preschoolers!) and feels more like a home than a cafe.
Cons: It’s small, so not the best for older kids who like to climb, jump around and explore. While personally we love its homely feel, some mums told me they found it a little cramped. It can also get a little chilly in winter. Oh and it’s not great for dog allergy sufferers either I guess.
For more, click here. Sta Magdalena Sofía 491, Las Condes, Opening times have changed recently. Call beforehand to double check it’s open. 09 8657 9642
A little further out of town, this cafe has lots of small rooms indoors and a large covered outdoors section.
Pros: Parking is easy. It’s a decent size with slides, trampolines, toy cars and a ball pond meaning that even on a busy weekend it’s still doable. The selection of dress up costumes is ‘amazing’ (according to my four year old).
Cons: There is very little seating area for adults and while cameras are provided, you’ll no doubt end up running from room to room. Food and hot drinks are not allowed in the outdoor section, and with just two small tables in the cafe area, we didn’t even attempt to eat here. Also, there’s a wooden slide in the outdoor area which is more of a vertical drop and every kid under five I saw use it without their parents ended up injured.
Padre Hurtado Central 682, Las Condes, Tel. (2) 2895 0147 www.harekori.cl
This is a smaller, indoors cafe which is especially good for very small children.
Pros: There is a great selection of treats for allergy sufferers. While the savoury menu is limited, they serve vegan empanadas, vegetable milks, dairy free ice creams and great teas. The cafe seating area wraps around the play area so it’s quite easy to keep an eye on your kids while they play.
Cons: Parking is limited. The savoury menu is very limited for kids. Toys are more suitable for very small kids. Older kids might get bored after a short while.
Av. Los Leones 2580, Providencia, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Need to know:
Most play cafes don’t allow shoes indoors. While overshoes are provided for adults for and socks are usually available for sale, it’s best to bring a pair of socks for the kids.
Play cafes aren’t nurseries. While staff are helpful as they can be, they probably won’t be first aid trained.
Call beforehand in case they’re closed for a birthday party (especially true on weekends) or if opening times have changed.
With the exception of MoMos and Casa de Juliet which are a little cheaper, most play cafes charge around $6,000 CLP per child over two years old.
My boy Rafa has severe allergies and we wouldn’t trust the food at any of the play cafes for him. Cross contamination, trace elements, not understanding that lactose free and dairy free are not the same… if your child has an allergy I’d recommend bringing your own food. We’ve never has a problem when we’ve explained the situation.
For restaurants with play areas, see my round up here.