Gambado in Beckenham is a large soft-play venue, officially suitable for ages zero to 12, although there is more to do for walkers. Inside the (massive) climbing frame there are loads of different activities – slides, mini-zip wires, target shooting, building blocks, ride on animals, a walk on piano and even a see-through floor.
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
Even though it is expensive, I think it is worth it simply because the experience of being there is much more pleasurable than other soft plays I’ve been to. The kids absolutely love it, and it feels easy – easy to enjoy the play and easy to let them run free a bit too.
On the whole, the staff also have a really nice attitude, for example high-fiving the kids as they zoom around on the cars.
Another bonus is that the coffee is actually drinkable, and the table layout means that you can watch the kids play at the same time as having a well deserved break.
I avoided going to Gambado for a long time because I’d heard it was not good value for money. But after two visits we bought an annual pass. For wet weather, for a treat, or just for a bit of a no-brainer easy entertainment, it’s a good choice.
Address: Gambado Beckenham, Natwest Sports Ground, Copers Cope Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 1NZ.
Playground: Gambado is one big playground…more on that later.
Café: The café is not too bad for this kind of place with breakfast options, pizza, burgers, salad, jacket potatoes, etc. There is a separate kids’ menu with a small organic range as well as the usual suspects. An added bonus is that the staff give you a beeper, so that you know to come back when your meal is ready. Prices are okay – £3 to £6ish.
Toilets: Clean, not usually too busy. There is a separate family loo with baby change too.
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: Step free access and plenty of room for wheels.
Parking: There is on-site parking. You can nearly always get a parking place but it does get really busy, so the earlier you get there the better.
Nearest station: About 10 minutes walk from Lower Sydenham and New Beckenham rail stations.
Phone: 0208 662 6910.
Unlike some other places, the ceilings on each floor of the frame are high enough for parents to walk through comfortably and the way up is pretty accessible, even for toddlers – no holes to climb through. Do not forget to wear socks as they are compulsory.
As well as the frame itself, there is also a carousel and a mini-driving track, which adds a bit of welcome variety to the outing. Kids can ride on both of these with parents or solo (there is actually an age minimum for solo riding but usually this is not enforced).
One thing to note is that during busy periods, e.g. school holidays and some weekends, Gambado may limit your play session to two and half hours. Otherwise you can stay as long as your energy levels can take it!
It is not a cheap outing but if you book online or can visit off-peak, you can minimize the expense. They also offer special deals on their website.
Peak times: Weekends and school holidays.
£6.50 – £9.50 per child depending on their age and £3.50 for adults.
Off peak: Week days and out of term time.
£5.95 – £7.95 per child depending on their age and £2.75 for adults.
If you are able to book online in advance (48 hours), prices are 20% lower. Bear in mind though that the first time you visit, you will be charged a £5.50 family registration fee. If you think that you would make use of Gambado regularly, you could purchase an annual pass, which can be charged monthly or as a one off, which makes it a lot cheaper.
Review by Erin Leuschke.