Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead Review

There’s a brand new soft play opening in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire! Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead is the sister soft play of Stay & Play Aylesbury and, just like that site, it’s right in the town centre. There’s a separate toddler play area plus the main frame, cafe and party rooms. This play-frame is a really good size and there’s a couple of really good elements. It’s also fairly easy for adults to get around (which is always a plus when it comes to soft play).

We were gifted admission to Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead in order to write this review.

The main play-frame

First up, the slides. There’s a decent length, four-lane, bumpy slide. I loves me a bumpy slide! Then there’s a really quite long twisty tube slide with windows on the slide. Obviously I had to have a go – it’s nice and fast, if a bit static-y. Well, it was fast until I got to the end – I had to scooch myself out of the bottom.

There’s also a really cool roller slide. It reminded me a bit of a conveyor belt in a factory. You can get a surprising speed up going down this slide (particularly if you push off from the top). Don’t worry about little fingers, there’s no gaps for them to get stuck. Smallest Child tried to run up the slide, with hilarious results. A it like a hamster in a wheel when they don’t go fast enough and get flung backwards. Apparently I had to help her up it as well. Luckily there’s two padded sections to the side so I ended up doing a weird wide-legged straddle all the way up! I’m nothing if not classy!!

Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead review | soft play in Hertfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids
Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead review | soft play in Hertfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

The treehouse

It’s surprisingly difficult to get to the treehouse! You have a choice of perilous journey. You can choose from one of the tunnels which is actually a series of plastic rings joined together by webbing (the thing in the background of the photo below). Smallest Child got one hoop in and decided she wasn’t having any of it. There was no way I was getting in there either. The older kids think it’s amazing though. If you don’t fancy that then there’s a suspension bridge you can go across.

Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead review | soft play in Hertfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

If you manage to make it across then you can access the giant viewing bubble. There’s an amazing view up there apparently (I don’t know because I didn’t go across). Plus you can access the tree house itself. It’s made up of criss-crossed elastic that you can wriggle through to slowly sink down through the layers. This one corner of the play frame at Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead is particularly suitable for older kids. Mainly because it’s that little bit harder for both adults and the youngest kids to get to!

Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead review | soft play in Hertfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

The rest of the play frame

You’ll find a decent range of dangly obstacles, weird shapes to scramble over and spinny things to run at. There’s also quite a lot of bridges and tunnels of various shapes and sizes. In normal times there’s a ball pool but that’s out of action currently because of covid restrictions.

A bit hit for us was the buoy zip line. Obviously it’s not very long but it’s pretty nippy! Overall it was easy enough for me to get around the play frame, which is always a massive bonus. Although there are places an adult has to crawl through, it’s not quite the killer on the knees that some other, smaller frames can be.

The toddler play frame

Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead review | soft play in Hertfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

The toddler play frame at Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead is fairly decent, although it isn’t massive. It’s quite separate from the main frame, but still has visibility if you’ve got older ones. Actually, you can walk all the way around the bigger frame so there’s no chance of losing anyone!

It’s worth noting that there’s no middle-ground play frame at Stay & Play Hemel. It’s either under 2’s or the main frame. That means that, during weekends and school holidays you’ll get everyone in together. I think, because the main frame has such good visibility, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem but it’s worth knowing.

The lounge areas

There’s plenty of seating for adults whilst the kids are playing. The great news is that it isn’t all manky plastic chairs and formica tables. The chairs are properly comfy! If you’re planning on doing some work whilst you’re there then there’s also proper tables to sit at.

Our Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead Review

Stay & Play in Hemel Hempstead is much bigger than the Aylesbury site, and it’s suitable for older children as well. I’ve never taken Biggest Child to the Aylesbury site and Middle Child really was at the top of the age-range, so it’s nice that this soft play is suitable for a wider age range. Being right in the town centre means you can bribe the kids with a trip here when you’re out and about shopping. The cafe looks decent. We didn’t get chance to try it, but if it’s anything like the Aylesbury site then the food will be quite good.

Soft play can get a really bad press. It’s a bit Marmite and I know some people hate it (I’m a complete child so I love it!). One criticism can be that it’s dirty. From what I’ve seen (although of course it is new) the frame is well maintained and clean.

Admission Cost

Prices depend on age and time. Adults are free. Childminders get 25% discount. Prices below are for weekdays & term time / weekends, bank holidays and school holidays. Pre-booking is not required.

  • Under 1’s are always £1.95
  • 1-3 years £4.95 / £5.95
  • 4-12 years £5.95 / £6.95


None on-site. Use town centre car parks (chargeable). The car park at Gadebridge Park (review here) is free, but it’s a few minutes walk from Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead.


Toilets & baby change on -site


Cafe on-site. You’re not allowed to bring your own food & drink.

What else is nearby?

There’s the playground and splash park at Gadebridge and the water gardens are right next door to the soft play. You can also try out the Hemel Hempstead version of Treasure map trails which is set in and around the town centre – save 10% using this link and the code FREETIMEWITHTHEKIDS (affiliate link)

Stay & Play Hemel Hempstead review | soft play in Hertfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch or get in touch via Facebook

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