Reviewed by Louise Totton
My husband and I (and naturally our two daughters) were absolutely delighted to be asked to try out the newest softplay centre in Huddersfield. Except this softplay centre promises so much more than the vast majority of them do. On offer, as well as the play gym, is a roller skating disco, a cafe area serving a wide range of cakes and teas, coffees and soft drinks and most unusually of all, an attractive dining area with a varied menu that offers so much more than the sandwiches and jacket potatoes usually available in similar venues.
We arrived at around half past two on a slightly drizzly Thursday afternoon with our 2yr old and 5yr old. Playworld is located just off a main road in Huddersfield, and is housed in a detached building with a large free car park available. It might have been easy to miss as it is set back from the road, but it is nicely signposted so we found it easily. The kids’ first impressions on entering the building were definitely that of excitement. Their eyes were first drawn to the large roller skating rink, then they spotted the playgym!
We decided to give the roller skating a try first. I had originally assumed that only our eldest would be able to skate, but as well as the proper skates available for adults and children aged around 5+, there were also lighter plastic skates that fitted over the top of smaller children’s own shoes. The equipment hire does carry a small extra charge, although you can take your own roller boots too if you have them. Included in the skate hire charge is safety equipment; we also borrowed helmets, knee pads and elbow pads for the girls, and all of the equipment was of a very high standard and was clean and in excellent condition.
We then moved into the skating rink, which was lovely and smooth with a grab rail all the way around the outside for less confident skaters. Our two had a fantastic time. Both of them struggled a lot at first, but Playworld staff were in the rink at all times and were more than happy to hold the girls hand, show them what to do and pick up any upturned children. The staff were just excellent, very approachable and friendly and really helped the kids’ confidence on the skates.
The atmosphere in the rink was fabulous – there were plenty of skaters there, but because it’s such a large space and the staff were always on hand to help any strugglers, it never seemed congested or cramped. We all really enjoyed the cheesy pop and disco music, and the kids thought the smoke machine was brilliant. The music is played by the resident DJ, which again seems to add to the atmosphere.
Our youngest lasted about 20 minutes on her skates before the playgym caught her eye and she wanted to go there. The eldest skated for about 40 minutes before she wanted to join her sister. So we went and sat in the dining area whilst the kids went into the softplay. The playgym doesn’t actually look very big from the outside, but after about 15 minutes of not seeing the kids, I decided to go in and investigate! The structure is like a tardis! Inside, it really is very large, spread out over a number of floors and includes several slides, a ball pit and lots and lots of nooks and crannies and interesting bits for the kids to engage with. As was becoming the theme throughout the venue, the whole area was immaculately clean and of a very high standard. The kids were having an absolute ball in there, and I was promptly packed off back to our table by them.
As it was by now approaching tea time, we decided to order something to eat. The menu at Playworld is huge! It is split into four main sections, including Indian, Oriental, The Americas and European cuisine. So much more comprehensive than the usual softplay fare and the vast majority of the meals were available in adult or child’s portions, so the kids aren’t stuck with ‘chips with everything’ meals, but can eat proper, nutritious food. My husband and kids are reasonably easy to please when we eat out, I am a bit more difficult, being unable to eat anything containing gluten. But I mentioned this when I ordered and the person who served me checked with the kitchen and was able to confirm what I would be able to eat. Playworld actually employs chefs to cook food properly and as such, they knew and understood all of the ingredients in the food.
We ordered a cheese and tomato pizza and a small fish and chips for the kids, and I had a (gluten free) Indian grilled salmon dish called Jaltarang and my husband opted for a lentil curry dish called Dal Bukhara. It arrived within 15 minutes, and we were first struck by the excellent presentation of the dishes. The two curry dishes wouldn’t have looked out of place in a top Indian restaurant. The fish and chips was a perfect portion size for a 5yr old made ravenous by a couple of hours of skating and soft play, and the pizza looked freshly made and was cooked to perfection.
My Jalterang was quite simply one of the best meals I have eaten for a long time. The chunks of fresh salmon were fantastically spiced, and although they were grilled and slightly blackened on the outside, the inside was pink, moist and delicious. They were set on top of Indian spiced mashed potato, which was just outstanding. The meal would normally be served with rice, but as they couldn’t be 100% the rice didn’t contain gluten, mine was served with fresh veg and salad. I was so impressed with their attention to detail in making sure my meal was suitable for me, top marks.
My husband was delighted with his lentil dish. Although I couldn’t try it myself, the smell was simply divine and again the presentation was, again, excellent. He said the curry had a very unusual and distinctive, earthy flavour and was a really welcome change from the curries he is used to from takeaways and many Indian restaurants. Again, he said the spicing was perfect and the portion size just right (and he can eat a lot!). It was served with perfectly cooked fluffy rice and a side salad.
The kids devoured their meals. The fish was lovely white cod fillet, and the batter was crispy, fluffy and perfect. There was not a hint of sogginess, or of the fish being a ready battered frozen one. Everything about it was fresh. The pizza was generously topped with lovely, stringy mozzarella cheese. The base was thin and stretchy and soft, and the crust had just the right amount of crispiness. Both girls finished the vast majority of their meals, no mean feat, given the distraction of the playgym that they wanted to get back to.
As well as being thoroughly clued up on food intolerances and the contents of their meals, I was also delighted to discover that alongside the very tempting products on the cake counter were two delicious looking gluten free cakes. Given that it is well over a year since I have eaten a decent slice of cake, I decided to give the carrot cake a whirl. As I was by now expecting, it was fantastic. I allowed my husband to try the tiniest amount, and he agreed, and said it didn’t taste gluten free at all.
We all had an absolutely fantastic afternoon. The whole place was superbly clean and well looked after. Every single member of staff we encountered was friendly, polite and seemed to be really enjoying their work; nothing was too much trouble. The toilets were very clean and modern, and obviously checked regularly by staff. The food was outstanding and very reasonably priced; we could easily have been eating in a very nice Indian restaurant. The adult meals we had were both less than £8, and the kids’ meals were less than £5.50. As well as hot meals, the menu also includes lighter options such as soups, salads, sandwiches, and sweet pancakes and waffles.
Entry into the softplay was very reasonable at £4 each, with only £1 extra to add on skating. And the standard and quality of the place make this an absolute bargain. This is a play venue that kids will love, but that parents will thoroughly enjoy and look forward to visiting too.
I would recommend Playworld to anyone with young kids, right through to teenagers for the roller disco.
A thoroughly top day out 5/5, totally faultless.
For more information visit www.playworld.uk.com.
Playworld, 152 Westbourne Road, Marsh, Huddersfield, HD1 4LF | 01484 420 404