There are plenty of ways to shake up your socialising in London. From mini golf to music festivals, this city has much more than just brilliant pubs to meet your mates in. Looking to try something new? The thrill-seekers and puzzle-solvers among you should grab your mates and sign up to one of London’s live escape games.
They range from the traditional locked-room escape mission, to Sherlock-themed mysteries to be solved, to all-out recreations of the 90s classic The Crystal Maze. Either way, your team will have to help each other to solve puzzles within a strict time limit. Our advice? Choose your teammates wisely.
Start the fans, please!
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The best escape games in London
Be warned: this ‘fully automated' escape game is not for novices. It’s also a real gear change compared to most other London venues of its ilk. It’s heavily logic/maths-puzzle centric. For anyone who loves a fiendish thinky-thinky problem, this is probably the escape game for you. But be prepared to be heavily challenged.
Tech wizardry is what the six rooms at this Holloway Road-based escape game are all about. Scenarios range between trying to pull off a Fast & Furious-style car heist, fleeing a superhero’s base while it’s attacked by their arch nemesis and escaping a ghost-packed pirate’s ship.
Venue says With 7 games on offer, will you choose pirates, Sherlock Holmes, superheroes or a sci-fi epic? Book now
A magician has disappeared during a magic trick and his apartment’s about to be bulldozed. You’ve got one hour inside it to find his book of secrets and discover where the hell he vanished to. Dramatic, we know. Get involved.
There may well be more to being recruited as a spy than an hour of codebreaking, briefcases and teamwork, but if it’s even half as exciting in real life as this escape game then it’s no wonder MI5 is so selective.
You can't move for '90s nostalgia these days, and that's where the allure of this particular experience lies. Painstakingly reconstructed sets from the original cult TV series make you really feel like you're on the show. The Crystal Maze is a test of both your physical and mental skills and endurance, but it’s pure fun too. It's a simple game, even if it takes twice as long as your average escape room. The more challenges you complete, the more crystals you win and the more time you’ll have for the final test in the Crystal Dome. Start the fans please!
Choose from a couple of scenarios at this Battersea-based escape rooms. When we went it was the Hostage Hideout, where you’ve got an hour to help to free the hostages and escape. This is not the greatest shopping trip you’ve ever been on. It is, however, a thoroughly fun escape game. Puzzles involve a good mix of scrabbling around the room for hidden gear and racking your brains to try to solve tricksy codes. This definitely passes our current test for a good escape game: are there any puzzles that we’ve never seen the likes of before? Yes. Yes there are.
Those of a nervous disposition, look away now: Enigma Escape is a problem-solving, team-working one-hour escape challenge with a gory plot at its centre. 'The Killer' is pleasingly physical – you won't need muscle or anything but it's fun to be solving puzzles by actually doing things rather than just thinking really hard.
Venue says Time Out recommended escape room for 2-6 players.
This 60-minute escape challenge is a fun experience with the odd bit of clever tech thrown in. It’s probably more one for people who’ve never done an escape game before, with at least the Bank Heist game feeling as though it was a couple of puzzles too short. Not the greatest escape game in London. But then by no means a bad one.
Escape Land is a mysterious experience from the off. Step down beneath the bustling streets of Oxford Street and find yourself transported into a contrastingly mellow environment where you have the choice of attempting one of two rooms. Da Vinci’s Exploration or Right to the Throne. The Da Vinci room is tough: the line is that Da Vinci himself set the locks and riddles for you to solve, so you know it won’t be easy. The truth is it isn’t, but it’s incredibly engaging. Both rely on problem-solving and mind bending riddles, so concentrate and stay sharp.
Venue says Live escape rooms in Central London. Best location, just 50 meters walk down on the Oxford Street from Tottenham Court Road station.
Test your puzzle-solving abilities at this west London escape game. Each of their five rooms is themed (Area 51, witchcraft and Da Vinci among them) and teams from two up to seven have one hour to get out by deciphering codes, opening locks and unearthing clues. Suitable for children aged ten upwards.
Venue says Two Mysterious Locations: Shepherd's Bush & Shadwell. Find clues, solve logic puzzles, break the codes and find the key to your freedom.
Here, players choose between tackling The Million Pound Heist or trying their hand at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The latter is a magical experience which takes its theme from literature's most famous boy wizard. Your team of three to five people must graduate from a school of witchcraft and wizardry by solving puzzles and tracking down clues. The runes, potions, charms and spells are held in specially designed rooms that are brimming with detail and clever surprises.
Venue says Take part in an intricate heist or test your wizarding skills, the choice is up to you. Book now to experience our amazing games!
It’s World War two. You’ve been captured by the Nazis, and, well… given that this is an escape game, you can probably figure out the next bit. You’re following the lead of Bob Hails, not only the other prisoner to have escaped the P.O.W. camp you’re locked in, but also a gent kind enough to have left you a trail of clues to follow.
Escape Rooms’ one-hour games will confront you with plenty of exciting effects to keep you all on your toes. There are two themed games to choose from, one based in the cursed chamber of an Egyptian pharaoh, and the other a room in the British Museum containing a precious Chinese porcelain which needs returning to its rightful owner. Book in advance (there's another in Angel, if you can't get in).
London’s original escape game is a solid combination of thinking, scrabbling and storyline that will have you so determined to win that you’ll find yourself trying to fish non-existent keys out of hot lamps as if health and safety was never a thing.
This immersive team game isn't quite an escape game (not least because you're not really trying to escape) but is built on the same main premise: work as a team to solve puzzles and complete the challenge within an hour.
Venue says Use code FEB10 to receive 10% of your booking
The white breezeblock building this three-game operation is set in doesn’t exactly scream ‘fiendish magnificence’. But there are four surprisingly well thought out games here, at least one of which has an astonishingly good mid-game twist (we could be clearer, but trust us: you don’t want the surprise ruined).
Being set inside South Kentish Town tube station, which closed to the public in 1924, is part of the appeal of this WWII-themed escape game effort, with staff dressed in 1940s army gear and corridors pumped with dry ice as you enter the building.
Venue says The most immersive escape room in London. Escape from the ghost tube station using your mind, logic, communication and teamwork!
Modern Fables isn’t just an escape game but a borderline immersive experience. In one of the escape rooms you’re told that you’re heading to a bar called The Escapist to help out due to the owner’s disappearance. On arrival, you walk into an eerie warehouse space where black-and-white films flicker over a candlelit room. Super ominous.
Venue says You cant come to us so we're coming to you! We're working at speed on a new project: See ModernFablesUK on the social medias for info
New kids on the block (Oxford Street to be more specific), No Escape have three escape scenarios to choose from. One will have you attempting to evade a murderous dentist in just 60 minutes. As you arrive for your 'check-up', you and your team will be locked in the surgery room and forced to solve cryptic clues in order to escape.
This impressively ambitious escape game is a rarity, in that your team is divided from the beginning. For example, a game named 'The Penintentiary' involved being locked into prison cells. Without a doubt, it was a surprising and suitably fun way to kick off an evening of escape attempts.
This is the sort of escape game that could only have been made a few years into the genre’s lifespan: cleverly subverting a few of the usual tropes in a way that has the potential to cheekily wrongfoot seasoned players. It’s also a tad trickier than a lot of games – they claim that there’s only a 50 percent success rate.
Last year, ‘Sherlock’ fans were quivering in their deerstalkers when it was announced that a purpose-built escape game based on the BBC drama was going to open in London. It’s easy to be cynical about the decision to tap into the escape game boom, but this is not some ‘inspired by’ cash-in. Writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who also played Mycroft) teamed up with escape-game-maker Time Run to make this happen, and their sharp, sardonic tone runs right through the experience. When we visited, the journey began in ‘Doyle’s Opticians’ (as in Arthur Conan), a cover for a ‘spy training agency’, and continued through replicas of familiar sets with new footage featuring maniacal Irish villain Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott), exasperated Dr Watson (Martin Freeman) and supercilious Mycroft.
Venue says Can you step into the shoes of the legendary detective? New tickets on sale now at www.thegameisnow.com.