Acorn and Oak Review (A New Role Play Cafe at Royal Quays)

Thanks to our writer Jennifer for this post which is based on a visit on 12 March 2022. 

I have always loved the concept of children’s role play cafes. They are a great indoor alternative to soft play, and really encourage my children (aged 3 &6) to engage in some fun, creative and imaginative play. As regular visitors to similar venues in the North East, we were really excited to hear that a new cafe, Acorn and Oak, would be opening it’s doors on the 1st March, and hurried to book our visit.

Acorn and Oak Review (A New Role Play Cafe at Royal Quays)

You can find the cafe in the Royal Quays outlet; it's beautiful shop front really stands out, complete with brightly painted windows in a woodland theme.

The full address is:

Unit 36, Royal Quays Outlet and Independent Centre, Coble Dene, North Shields, NE29 6DW

If you are planning to drive, there are over 700 free parking spaces at the outlet. It is also easily accessible by public transport; both Percy Main and Meadowell metro stations are within a 10-minute walk.

The cafe holds three 90 minutes sessions a day; 9:15am, 11:15am and 1:15pm. The entry cost for children over 12 months is £5.75, for under 12 months it's £3 and for under 6 months (who come with a paying sibling) it's free. There is also no charge for accompanying adults. 

The cafe is suitable for ages 0-6, but I would say the average age when we visited was around 2. (Please check directly with the venue for the most up to date information before planning your visit).

Sessions can be booked online at Walk-ins are also accepted if there is space, but the cafe is proving very popular, so I would recommend booking in advance. The venue can also be exclusively hired for parties, more information can be found on the website.

The room is a good size, with the capacity to host 22 children (and their grownups) per session. We visited during a sold-out time slot, and although it did feel busy, the kids were still able to play in the areas they wanted, without having to wait. 

Disney soundtracks are played out through the cafe’s sound system, and we had a good singalong to the Encanto classics.

The centre is owned by local mum of 2, Amy, and it is clear that a lot of thought has gone into it's creation. There are 5 themed play areas, all which have been handmade by local craftspeople, and feel really good quality.

The first is Oak Cottage which is a little home themed space complete with wooden kitchen appliances, a table and chairs and a selection of dolls, beds, and prams. 

The cottage leads out to a separate indoor garden finished with fake grass and a super cute mini deckchair; a fab spot for a photo. 

Next door to the cottage, you will find Mick’s Bricks, a construction area where your little ones can put on a high vis and safety goggles and get to grips with a range of wooden tools. There is also a doctor’s surgery and ‘Violet’s’, a supermarket/florist. 

My daughter, Lily Rose lives up to her name and absolutely loves flowers, so one of her favourite parts of our session was putting together her own faux bouquet.

There is a separate baby area which is home to lots more lovely wooden toys, treasure baskets, puzzles and sensory items. The floor in this area is covered with a large squishy padded mat which is a nice soft space for the littlest cuties to have a crawl around.

Towards the back of the room are two tuff trays filled with themed activities. This week the theme was shapes, and the children enjoyed drawing shapes, and moulding them out of playdough. This isn’t something we have seen in other role play centres in the area, and I think is a really nice feature which incorporates some great hands-on learning into play.

The cafe seating gives a full view of the play areas, so you can sit and enjoy your cuppa without worrying about your child’s whereabouts. There are plenty of tables and high chairs available, and if you are visiting with a larger group, you can reserve a 6 seater table. 

The cafe serves a selection of hot and cold drinks, yummy homemade cakes, sandwiches, and paninis. The prices are about average for this type of venue. 

The paninis were served with salad, coleslaw and crisps, and were definitely a big hit when we visited. Children can order an ‘Acorn Platter’ which allows them to choose a sandwich or toastie plus 3 sides. Alternative milks are available for anyone requiring a dairy free option.

A downside of the venue is that there is only one toilet, which isn't ideal for a room full of young children, but I have to say that it was absolutely spotless. There was also a potty, children’s toilet seat and step which I thought was a fab touch. 

Outside of the main toilet there is a nappy changing area, complete with complimentary nappies and wipes should you get caught short (we've all been there!).

Five minutes before it was time to leave, the ‘tidy up song’ was played, and everyone was asked to help put the toys and props back into their correct areas (I’m 6 years into being a mum and still find it amazing how willing kids are to tidy up other people’s toys but never their own!). When the session finished, Amy came and gave all the children a sticker which really helped soften the blow of it being time to leave.

We had a really fun time during our visit, and I am sure we will be back for more Acorn and Oak adventures soon.

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1 comment

  1. It appears to be a nice place for kids to have more activity during the weekend. This weekend, I'll take my kids there.


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