Zurich airport is good for kids (and for parents), primarily because of the two family rooms they have - one at Gate A and another at Gate E. Always popular with our kids and many others too - the guest book can testify. It lays on the central table for all passing guests to leave their comments and thanks. It's great to be able to let the kids play, let off steam and to feel relaxed. There's changing facilities, children's toilet (complete with a sign warding off adults - 'Children only' it reads) and even a space for the sleepy ones to rest. There's plenty of toys to keep kids of all ages occupied. It's secure too although kids do need to be accompanied by at least one adult as it's not a babysitting service. Being at the airport is always good as it's great for the kids to run around, under cover (in case it rains) away from cars (who very rarely stop at pedestrian crossings here) and there's tons and tons of space. We've been known to take the train direct to the airport of a weekend just to get that runaround on a rainy day. Something we miss a lot from having lived at Canary Wharf.
Our taxi ride to Zurich airport is painless. Thalwil taxis know us now and like all Swiss cab companies must, by law, provide the appropriate car seat for your child (as long as you ask for one!) This is unlike England where taxis have different regulations. The cab companies in Switzerland must conform to the private car rules of car seats. For example in Switzerland a recent ruling means that all children up to the age of 12 or those under 150cm tall must use an adapted car seat. All in all one would think every other aspect of socialising would also be focussed on the child in Switzerland, but oh no.
One of the major issues we've found since living here is just how unfriendly many people are with regards to children and how many people give you 'the eye' or even verbalise their discontent at your child's behaviour (even when it could be a LOT worse). We've experienced it a lot. Saying that I'm not going to generalize because we have also met some wonderfully child friendly Swiss shop and restaurant owners who don't mind if your child is upset or tired and throws a tantrum. But we really did not expect to receive such hostility at Zurich airport in the Sports Cafe - the place we'd only just discovered back in February and which back then was great.
We chose the large seats because they're comfortable and because they spin, which provides some entertainment and distraction. Anything to keep the kids quiet. We find we worry so much more in Switzerland about what people think. The food the last time we were there was good, so we opted again for the breakfast option for us and a hot chocolate each for the kids as they'd had their cereal before we'd left home.
We didn't expect the kids drinks to be in a thick heavy glass and still be boiling hot. Of course, thank goodness we tested it first. The difficulty was holding it and whilst Patrik was doing well he managed to misplace it when putting it back on the table. Result - hot chocolate everywhere. What a mess. All over the floor. The poor thing didn't know what to do as even we knew it was a complete accident. The key thing was to then stop Patrik from wanting to stand in the puddle making splashing noises. We figured one of the four waitresses would come to our rescue with a mop telling us not to worry. After all, that's what happened in Starbucks at Canary Wharf when Emily was young and when she managed to squeeze at supersonic speed the Ella's Kitchen purple one no less resulting in a volcanic explosion and a very near miss of a business man's white shirt. Even he laughed. But no not here.
The waitresses had already shown their displeasure at us after Johan had asked for an extra ketchup carton. After a big discussion (obviously not in English) one reluctantly provided us with one. So I used the napkins we had and made good the table top whilst Johan span Patrik round on his chair so his feet didn't dangle in the mess below. Still no-one. I had to stop a waiter and asked if he had anything I could clear up the mess with. With a look of disgust ('how dare you mess up our Cafe' look) he ostentatiously handed me a pile of serviettes. Well what good are they? I wasn't getting on my hands and knees. Five minutes later, at least, and I had to stop another waitress who rather than being understanding, smiling and rushing to get something to mop the mess away, span round on her heels like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz to return a few moments later with a kitchen roll which she handed me with not a word or even a glimmer of a smile - don't mention she didn't even want eye contact. After a few expletives between Johan and myself we rounded up our stuff, put the kids coats on, put the correct money on the table and left. The untouched kitchen roll standing upright on the table. Unbelievable. Needless to say, we're not going back there again.
Things could not have been more different upon arrival in to London. Firstly one reason we like flying in to City airport (aside the fact it's smaller and the whole arrivals process from plane to exit is quicker) is that we can roll the pram on to the black cab with the kids inside and not have to worry about car seats. Again, very different ruling from uber safe Switzerland.
The Marriot Hotel at West India Quay is also amazingly child friendly. Plus their service is superb. Not only had they kept a few things of ours which we'd left in our room on our last stay, but at breakfast the waiters know exactly where we want to sit - as far away as possible from the rest of the diners! The kids get colouring boxes with pencils and pads at lunch and dinner, and are always treated like proper little grown ups. They feel as at home there as we do.
We didn't waste much time before heading over to Jubilee Place via a dash in to Waitrose where nappies are a third of the price as they are in Zurich. Let's not mention the array of food there either. Heaven. The kids can roam and run and were just having so much fun being back. At Jubilee Place there's more foodie options than the whole of Thalwil put together. However I was slightly shocked that Wagamamma's was closing early for Good Friday - for a moment I thought I was back in Thalwil. But then we found Wildwood. Never been there before but were assured it had a varied menu to satisfy the little ones and the fussy adults. And it didn't disappoint.
Emily and her friend from 'little' nursery (when she was little - more little!) sat like a little married couple on an adjacent table and ate and drew, listened to music, danced and giggled.
Meanwhile we really enjoyed our menu. It was such a relaxed atmosphere and no worrying about whether or not we made a noise or mess. We just enjoyed ourselves. All of us.