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Sherlock Escape Game
Andy Parsons

Escape games in London

It’s a lock-in! Visit one of these London escape games to see whether you’re a puzzle pro or a clue klutz

Written by
Ashleigh Arnott
,
Alexi Duggins
,
Nick Thompson
&
Sarah Cohen
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After being locked down for great swathes of 2020 and 2021, you may think that the last thing you want to do is voluntarily imprison yourself, but the great thing about escape games is that you have the power to release yourself if you keep your wits sharpened. So grab a bunch of thrill-seeking, puzzle-solving mates and sign up for one of the many live escape room experiences London has to offer.

These range from the traditional locked-room escape mission to a ‘Sherlock’-themed mystery and an all-out recreation of the ’90s TV show ‘The Crystal Maze’. Whichever you choose, your group will have to help each other to solve puzzles within a strict time limit. Our advice? Pick your teammates wisely. 

Start the fans, please!

RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in London.

The best escape games in London

AI Escape
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Bermondsey

CLOSED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2021

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 and 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. 

Breakin’ Escape Rooms
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Holloway Road

Tech wizardry is what the six rooms at this Holloway Road 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. 

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Clue Adventures
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Leyton

Introducing London’s first escape room created exclusively for two players only. 2 Tickets 2 Ride takes you and a friend on an action-packed adventure to uncover the identity of a madman and his gang who are threatening to sink London under the ground. You only have one hour! 

clueQuest
  • Things to do
  • Caledonian Road

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. 

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  • Things to do
  • Quirky events
  • Piccadilly Circus

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!

Enigma Escape
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Holloway

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.

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Enigma Quests
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Liverpool Street

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.

Escape Entertainment
  • Things to do
  • City of London

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. 

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Escape Land
  • Things to do
  • Oxford Street

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.

  • Things to do
  • Quirky events
  • Shepherd’s Bush

Test your puzzle-solving abilities at this west London escape game. Each of the 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.

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Escape Rooms
  • Things to do
  • London Bridge

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).

Mission Breakout
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Kentish Town

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. 

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Modern Fables
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • London Fields

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.

No Escape
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Oxford Street

No Escape has four venues and seven escape scenarios to choose from. One at the Oxford Street branch 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. 

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Omescape London
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Caledonian Road

This impressively ambitious escape game is a rarity, in that your team is divided from the beginning. For example, a game named The Penintentiary involves being locked into prison cells. Without a doubt, it’s a surprising and suitably fun way to kick off an evening of escape attempts.

Secret Studio
  • Things to do

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 – it claims that there’s only a 50 percent success rate. 

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  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Shepherd’s Bush

‘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.  

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