Does the idea of recreating the golden age of TV with the shiny-headed legend that is Richard O’Brien from the Crystal Maze appeal? Or perhaps being locked in a room with a blood-thirsty zombie sounds like a great night out? You’re not alone, because escape rooms have taken London by storm and they’re now everywhere… literally, everywhere.
So which one to choose? Here’s a list of our top seven escape rooms in London.
Enter the crystal dome
The Crystal Maze is the daddy of escape games, so it's natural that we should mention this re-imagining of the classic TV show. Thanks to successful crowd-funding, this escape room experience has been officially open since 2016 for gangs of eight to take on. Challenge zones mirror the regions from the TV show including Aztec, Industrial, Futuristic and Medieval. And of course the aim is to collect as many crystals as possible in order to succeed in the ultimate finale — The Crystal Dome. We gave it a go, and here’s how it went.
A prison, asylum or a biohazard laboratory
Omescape has re-purposed a church on Caledonian Road and turned it into three escape room experiences: The Penitentiary, Joker's Asylum and Biohazard Laboratory. We tried The Penitentiary experience, and yes... it really was as creepy as it sounds. Our team was tasked with escaping a prison cell, then getting out of the jailhouse using physical agility, linguistic skills and puzzle solving prowess. A highlight was weaving our way around laser beams without setting off the alarm, Mission Impossible style. There's something for everyone in the team; a perfect game for team building without leaving anyone feeling too useless and deflated. And we escaped with 40 seconds to spare.
An inspector calls...
Prepare your deer-hunter, pick up your magnifying glass, and get ready for an evening of investigative challenges at HintHunt in Euston. With five game rooms including three detective offices and two 'zen rooms' with a Japanese flavour, HintHunt was one of the first escape rooms to hit London. We tried it in 2012.
A licence to... solve a puzzle
ClueQuest aims to turn you into a secret agent, although possibly more Pink Panther than James Bond. You and your small team of buddies are set to work thinking your way out of a room within 60 minutes by cracking the range of codes and puzzles. Despite being helped along the way by hints on a screen, the tense music and countdown clock make this an exhilarating experience. ClueQuest was started by four Hungarian brothers in 2013 starting with one room in Tottenham Hale, but they've now grown to nine rooms and are based in the King's Cross area. Read more about our clueQuest experience here.
The escape room concept taken to a whole new level: not only will you be locked in a room, but you’ll joined by a man-eating zombie whose chain is released another foot every five minutes. Luckily, according to their website, "cannibalism has been outlawed since 1804, so the Zombie is not legally permitted to eat you". So, if you get touched by the zombie you're merely required to sit out the game —phew! This experience is meant for up to 12 people, so you may be asked to share the experience with others.
Enter a time machine
Travel to London Fields, then journey back through time with your buddies to find a relic named 'The Lance of Longinus' in atmospheric escape room experience Time Run. The game invites you to follow the story of time traveller and scientist Luna Fox, and along with a team of three-five people, you’ll need to use your grey matter to bring the relic back to the present day.
A colourful experience
Bermondsey's Lock'd seems a lot more family-friendly than some of the more sinister experiences we've covered in this piece. With experiences such as 'Grandpa’s last will' where you're set to task searching through an old man's front room, this is something of a gentle and jolly game. Lock'd currently offers three rooms, but is expanding to eight, including a cold war bunker and a 'lost play'.