As is probably clear now for anyone who has read this blog, I love an escape room.
I find great joy in finding a new room to play in a new city of the world I visit and have amassed more than 60 physical and online escape room games to date around the world.
It’s also fair to say I introduced this pastime to my fiancée Holly and she too fell in love with the game instantly; part of the reason we fit together so well!
In the blog below, I’ve laid out five of my favourite escape rooms from my European adventures for anyone who also wants to give the games a try or is an avid fan themselves.
These five escape rooms each offer something slightly different from the rest I’ve played and put you, the player, at the heart of everything they do.
1: Panic Room (Gravesend – England)
Located in Gravesend, The Panic Room is the UK’s largest escape room experience going. Spread across three locations in the town centre, there are currently 14 different rooms they have set up all ranging in theme and difficulty.
What strikes you straight away with The Panic Room are three things. Firstly, they have put a lot of time, effort into their brand. It looks fantastic. Secondly, the staff are extremely friendly and enthusiastic.
No matter what the scenario you play out, no matter how many of you are there and no matter your level of escape room experience, they tailor the situation to your needs. Finally, they are not a cheap, nor tacky, looking escape room. Some places struggle to make it look good but that is not an issue here. They have gone the extra mile.
They also keep the rooms fresh, changing rooms up for new themes to keep customers wanting to come back for more.
As mentioned there are a host of rooms available. For a newbie to escape games I’d suggest something like The Don or Old Father Time as they are more gentle introductions to the escape room genre, combining logical puzzles with an interesting story.
For the more seasoned teams, you can opt to try out rooms that incorporate live actors – such as the Happy Institute – giving a whole new twist on what you have to do.
Special mention must also be made to the extraordinary Dino Land. This is far bigger than a normal room and has the feel of taking part in your own Jurassic Park-esque feature-film. I won’t say any more on it as I’d hate to spoil the surprises for anyone keen to take part!
Prices start from £25 per person for a team of two (so £50 total) and go down to £13.75 per person for a team of eight (£110 total).
To read about more fun things to do in Kent visit my Top five… places to visit in Kent blog.
2: One Hour (Paris – France)
If you tire of tourist sites in Paris, and want to try something fun, then I’d highly recommend you drop by the One Hour Escape Room.
Spread across two locations, this horror-themed escape experience has four games to play. Two are located at its Charonne site (Lost Aslyum and Very Bad Night) and two are at its Voltaire site (The Slaughterhouse and Yakuza).
To access these locations go to Charonne Metro station on line 9 for the first site and Voltaire Metro station on line 9 for the second one.
I’ve done a lot of escape rooms in my time but the ones here (I’ve done both Lost Aslyum and The Slaughterhouse) crank up the fear-factor and make it a really immersive experience.
With live actors terrorising you as you play, it makes a special game. Even the most solid players with nerves of steel will jump a few times during these games.
Holly and I played The Slaughterhouse together and the game-master (who is also a live actor in the game itself) adapted his role depending on how well we were doing throughout.
The game is both challenging physically and psychologically and leaves you nervously laughing on many occasions.
It’s not a cheap experience. For two people it cost us €96 (about £85) in total, but given the attention to detail in the room and the fun it provides I considered this great value for money.
I think the greatest compliment I can pay One Hour Escape Rooms is that they have produced two of my favourite escape room experiences ever!
Try it – if you think your nerves will hold out!
To read about more fun things to do in Paris, visit my Paris… the lovers’ city blog.
3: Escape Boats (Dublin – Ireland)
To avoid the escape room phenomenon becoming somewhat stale things, game masters are looking for fun and inventive ways to keep their ideas fresh. So when we found a floating escape room based on the onboard a boat in Dublin we jumped at the chance to give it a go!
The aptly named Escape Boats was our game host and can be found to the east of the city centre in the Grand Canal Quay.
For €70, two people can enjoy a game on their barge which is surprisingly spacious and has a lot more to it than initially meets the eye.
Given it’s location on the water, Escape Boats do a great job of utilising the surroundings and making this a challenging – yet fun – escape room experience.
There are plenty of puzzles to work out (although I’ll be honest I hate ones that involve Morse Code – for which there is one here – because I’m awful at hearing the difference in tones) and the game is a logical and well thought-out affair.
One tip – which doesn’t give anything away – is to not think certain items are just props as we did. Some items of clothing – for instance – are actually useful elsewhere and will stop you just sitting on a shelf (as we did for about five minutes) while things happen around you.
As escape rooms go, this one was so very different to others we’ve played and I cannot recommend it enough. The hosts were a pleasure to play with and made for a really enjoyable hour’s game.
To read more fun things to do in Dublin, visit my Dublin… how to spend a weekend in the Fair City blog.
4: Escape Rooms Durham (Durham – England)
What could be better than just doing an escape room? How about an escape room built into an old castle!
Located in the north of England, Lumley Castle is more than just a beautiful castle and hotel. It is also home to Escape Rooms Durham‘s own Lumley Castle-themed escape room; The Lilly of Lumley.
First thing to say here is that our host was amazing and really went the extra mile to help us and make our time in the escape room extra special. The room itself is complex and has may interesting features that make for a rewarding game.
The game challenges the gamers to solve the mystery of what happened to Lilly – the resident ghost of the castle – and help put her soul to rest.
Based in one of the castle’s dungeons, this beautifully presented game takes a rather somber story and turns it into something quite magical for just £25 per person.
I won’t spoil the game by giving away its secrets, but will say that it is a logical one and for those who have played escape rooms before you should find it challenging, yet winnable. We finished the room in exactly 50 minutes which I take as a good time.
To read more about fun things to do in Durham, visit my The Great British road trip… exploring England, Scotland and Wales blog.
5: Escape Stories (Stockholm – Sweden)
Ahead of a trip to Sweden, I wanted to continue my obsession of finding the best escape rooms in the world.
After much research I booked us into Escape Stories. This escape room has four themed rooms at the time of writing. The Last Manuscript, The Break In, The Cover Up and The Da Vinci Quest. We went for The Last Manuscript at a cost of 750 SEK for two people (around £60).
The game hosts are enthusiastic and run you through the rules of the room as well as give you the backstory to your particular quest.
Unlike some rooms I’ve previously done, Escape Stories doesn’t limit the number of clues you can ask for, nor does it penalise you for asking for them. They are concentrating on ensuring that players have the best time possible and give them the greatest opportunity to escape. How much help and assistance you want it totally down to you as a team.
I won’t give too much away – as I’m sure Escape Stories won’t thank me for giving all its secrets away here – but it’s safe to say all is not as it seems in the room so really explore hard as some clues are rather tricky to find. Just for the record, we escaped the room in 46 minutes.
To read more fun things to do in Stockholm, visit my Stockholm… a smorgasbord of fun blog.