The Escape Room has been open just over a week, and I was lucky enough to be invited to the official launch last night. There was a fantastic buzz, no-one knew exactly what to expect, (for my party it was a complete unknown) and so the atmosphere is one of real excitement and a little trepidation - "what have I let myself in for?"
The Escape Room is at 1-7 Chapel Street, and the entrance is under a road bridge, next door to the Bijou Club, so it isn't instantly obvious as you approach. There is parking available behind the Premier Inn - Printworks Hotel which is only a minute walk away. I came in via tram and it was only 5 minutes walk from Shudehill station near the National Football Museum and the Arndale Centre.
Inside you are greeted by a really friendly bunch of staff, and as we had some time to spare it was over to the bar area, with well stocked bar, friendly bar staff and plenty of chairs and tables.
Of course though, lovely as the bar (and the Dutch courage) was, we were there to face a challenge. There are 5 different rooms with varying degrees of difficulty, and the challenge is to solve clues and puzzles, use your logic and escape from your room within 1 hour.
We were put into groups, as rooms are suitable for 2-6 players (this does vary depending on the room you choose). My group included Steph from Seeing Spots, Hayley from Get Out And See Stuff, Nisha from How I Wear, and Magdalena from Lullaby For Pies. It's worth mentioning I only really knew Steph, and Nisha and Magdalena were complete strangers to me. This is a great way to get to know people, team-build or just strengthen relationships you already have. We were led to our room - The Mummy.
For very obvious reasons there isn't any photography allowed, but I was given special permission for these two shots. There may be a couple of clues in evidence, but nothing given away - it would totally spoil it for you. That clock though, it becomes your focus, it really does, and you watch those seconds tick away as you try and figure out the next move.
And that's almost as much as I can give away.....
There were several puzzles for us to solve, and a failure at basic infant school maths from the lot of us meant that we wasted over 20 minutes!! I'm pig sick about that. Everyone is allowed a hint, and we had to take our hint because we failed to count. Tsk. All of the puzzles were ridiculously easy, required no prior knowledge or special skills, they really were all laid out for us to find and solve.
Despite our daft error, we still did manage to escape with over 8 minutes to spare, and we left the room triumphant!
Everyone who escapes goes onto the Hall Of Fame, and the best times get the highest placings. I'm sure we'll be wiped off the board in days!
I have only experienced The Mummy room, but I have to say 'not really'. Although you are locked into the room and solve the puzzles to release the door and get out, you are watched on camera constantly, there is a buzzer and the staff respond immediately, and there is an emergency button to unlock the door. It didn't feel claustrophobic, it was the time pressure that really gets to you. The Mummy room would be suitable for pretty much anyone. Children under 12 have to be accompanied by adults, but there was nothing in our room that would actually have scared any children at the minimum permitted age of 9.
Is The Escape Room suitable for any level of physical mobility?
YES!! We were standing and walking around for the full hour, but otherwise there was nothing at all physical involved, and there's plenty of floorspace if you really needed a sit down. There are wheelchair accessible toilets and the Prison Break room and Room 13 are both suitable for wheelchair users. The bar is on a raised level, but there are plans in place to install ramps for this, and for some of the other game rooms, as well as increasing the bar seating area down onto the lower level.
What should I wear?
Anything you like. Regular clothes, your office suit or your evening gladrags will all be just fine. One room has an option which involves crawling, but as long as at least one of your party is willing, you'll be fine.
Do I need to bring anything?
No. Everything you need is provided - you just have to work out how to get to it!
What does it cost?
Costs really vary depending on the size of the party, day and time of day. All prices are clearly shown on the booking form before you commit to booking, but each person can expect to pay between around £14 and £22 as a guide and you can join other players to increase your party and reduce costs.
In summary - it was brilliant. Very Crystal Maze, mixed with Sherlock Holmes and a bit of Tomb Raider/Silent Hill. I loved it and frankly, as a person who's spent years loving my Playstation, it was great to be immersed into a game like that. I know my partner and teenagers will also love it and I can't wait to go back with them and try out one of the other rooms.
The Escape Room is open from 10.30am until 10.30pm, 7 days a week, and booking is almost always essential. Corporate events, birthday parties and other groups are all welcome.
I was invited to the event in return for honest feedback.