Before I had a baby, meeting up with friends living across all corners of London was a chance to explore exciting new neighbourhoods. These days, my outings to meet friends with children feels like an episode of the Bear Grylls show.
Now that the cooler weather and dark skies of Autumn have come, finding an easy indoor spot becomes all the more challenging. So I returned to one of my favourite spots to meet friends with little ones, the John Lewis Department Store on Oxford Street. With the Jubilee and Central Line at nearby Bond Street Underground station and several bus routes, none of us can really grumble too much about the journey in.
Of course, once you’re out of the Tube and on Oxford Street, weaving your way through all of the slow walkers and window shoppers can be annoying. I’ve been firmly in that category, irritating other pedestrians by having to stop the pram every few steps to hand my toddler another Peppa Pig sticker to put on his shirt. (I’m not sure his relationship with her is healthy – he repeatedly rubbed a Peppa bath toy across his bottom the other night, but that’s another story.)
John Lewis has a toy department, family rooms and three cafes. I prefer the “Place to Eat” café on the fifth floor, with decent coffee, couches and seemingly hundreds of tables. I’ve never been allowed to still long enough to enjoy these things, but there is space for little people to wander and happily trip up customers carrying trays, stare at the pigeons through the floor to ceiling windows, bounce on the couches and lick crumbs off the high chairs (perhaps that is just my son.)
The family rooms are great. They offer breastfeeding sofa chairs, bottle warmers, fresh drinking water, changing tables, and toddler toilets with little sinks. Fab.
The Toy Department is nice for a children’s romp around as well. I usually don’t have any qualms about letting my toddler play with most of the toys there – I might purchase a small toy or book to feel better about the inevitable drool that ends up on some of the new stuffed toys.
With the children satisfied, we might even be lucky enough to pass by the perfume and skin care counters on the way out in search of free samples. John Lewis is definitely a good place for the littles to pass the time while you catch up with friends – and once they’ve kitted it out for the holiday season, the children may never want to leave.
Written by Jen Corlew