I had heard about Favourite Things in Marina Mall from lots of fellow mamas and had even been there to purchase an amber necklace for my second daughter (did those work for any of you mamas, because my little one still suffers?) but when another friend recently raved about this place again, I thought it was time to check it out properly.
So off I went on the weekend, with husband and 2 kids in tow, to what I thought would be a small play area that would only entertain for an hour at the most. How wrong I was! On my previous visit I had only spied the hair salon from the shop I was perusing, and a small area beyond that which I assumed was a baby gym, but actually Favourite Things is bigger than you think. Tucked in the back is a sea of opportunities for your little ones.
On entering the play zone the first things I saw were a soft play area (perfect for my nearly 1 year old) and an indoor sandpit and slide (a dream for my eldest who keeps asking me when she can go to the beach again). My girls trooped into the soft play first and started to amuse themselves with the plethora of toys available to them. The area is slightly run down with chipped paint on the walls and puzzles with missing pieces, but it was clean and tidy when we arrived and my kids seem to be happy nonetheless. The floor is mostly covered in mats, with just a few small areas of exposed wood, but it wasn’t slippery, so no issues at all. There is a soft ball pit with slide, which is always a hit, as well as many plastic and wooden toys. My baby was most interested in the walker (she’d run before she can walk if she could), as well as the building obstacle blocks and baby books. She stayed put here for the whole time we were there and when we left it was more to feed her lunch than due to any sign of boredom!
My toddler moved on to the sandpit in no time at all. She remained stationed here for quite a while playing with the buckets, spades and sieves, occasionally stopping for a moment of thrill, descending down the slide with a whoooooooo. It was fab for her to be back at ‘the beach’ again and she really loved this part of the play centre which we’ve never seen anywhere else.
Next to the sandpit there is also a short little racetrack with plasma cars, which looked fun for little boy racers, and on the other side there is a room for arts and crafts that’s well stocked with lots of different activities including princess and Spiderman prints to colour, play dough with cutters, stencils and a chalkboard. There was also a kitchen at the back (more on that later). We had great fun with the play dough until my daughter cut out an elephant and said “you mummy”. I’m hoping this was not a metaphor and was more a case of a missing word, (“You like, mummy?”) but maybe that’s wishful thinking mamas?!
I honestly thought that was it but no there was even more… a jungle gym called Kids Castle, a dress up area, a face paint station and a room with animal plastic toys, games and books. My daughter was immediately attracted to the dress up room, which was stocked with princess gowns, superhero costumes and animal outfits, as well as pirate and police hats, and much more. She enjoyed trying on all the outfits, then had a quick run around the gym and was soon stationed back in the soft play area to play with (or annoy) her sister for a bit, ahhh sisterly love. Shortly after this, although we had certainly not exhausted all activities possible, we were ready for lunch.
The café next door was a great place to feed both little ones. I always bring a flask of baby food for my youngest but I was told they also sell baby food. I was pleased to see that they offered a range of healthy options for kids too, with sandwiches, toasties, and wraps on offer, as well as a selection of organic items. The café is comfortable and clean and has many high chairs available. The best thing about it all? It over looks the soft play area, sand pit and race track, so if you work up a thirst whilst your kids are playing in one of these areas, mamas, then you can sneak away to enjoy a decent latte whilst still keeping an eye on your little ones.
Favourite Things also offers a range of different classes most of which take place in the studio at the back of the café. So whether your child is interested in ballet, dance, drama, painting or soccer, there is something on offer for everyone on a weekly basis and the cost is very competitive. They also have great packages for birthday and studio dance parties which look very well thought out, and have just started a kids cooking class, for over 4 year olds, that will take place every first Monday of the month.
It’s worth mentioning that if you have energetic, need-to-burn energy kids, then this might not be the place for you. The jungle gym certainly isn’t big and they might be bored before you know it. But for those with children who are happy to go from room to room doing different activities, and especially for those with younger children of different age groups, this play centre is a little gem.
After a rather enjoyable lunch with no tantrums (phew!), we made our way home feeling very content after a really lovely morning. Favourite Things is a really great little find and I will certainly be returning with my nearly 3 and nearly 1 year old for some more fun soon. They really enjoyed every minute and honestly could have stayed another hour at least. I might even book in a hair cut at their hair salon afterwards; the girls definitely need a trim before our holiday!
Favourite Things, 2nd Floor, Dubai Marina Mall, (+971) (0)44341984, www.favouritethings.com
Top image sourced via My Destination