The dragon’s den you’ll want to visit


Most parents have visited a children’s play centre at some point. I loathe them but acknowledge that in certain circumstances play centres have a purpose. I struggle to keep an eye on my four kids as they dart off in different directions, I’m not a fan of the increasingly tired, grubby equipment and I resent having to pay so much for bad food and coffee. On the flip side, there have been some exceedingly cold days when I’ve been hugely pregnant and the thought of the kids being able to run around while I sit in one spot has been bliss. But the place I’m about to describe is so cool it gives a whole new meaning to the term play centre.

London‘s Purple Dragon is a private members club for children, although it is probably more accurate to describe it as a family leisure club because it offers as much for parents as it does for kids. Purple Dragon is the brainchild of Sharai Meyers who wanted to create a place where families could have access to great play facilities, workshops and activities in beautiful surrounds. The result is an amazing space where stacks of board games sit alongside Arne Jacobsen chairs and parents can recline on Rietveld sofas while the kids play dress-ups.

The number of activities available is extraordinary. Kids can whip up their own pizza for lunch in the Kid’s Kitchen, take a tap dancing class in the Ballroom or record a song in the Music Lab. Parents can join in with Mummy and Me Pilates classes, challenge their kids in a game on a touch-screen iMac or play a family round of mini-golf. Parents who want some time out while their kids are busy at their Mandarin class or in the Science Lab can visit the spa, catch up on emails in the lounge or relax with the newspaper and a latte.

All that play will work up an appetite. The Purple Dragon has a juice bar, a café and a restaurant, all serving nutritional, organic and locally sourced food (eaten off Alessi cutlery of course) and in surrounds that are obviously supremely child friendly.

I’m not planning a trip to London anytime soon so will have to be content with the glimpses of purple heaven on the website….and I’ll have to restrain myself from wishing for a Casalino chair to sit on next time at my local play centre!


Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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