The escape rooms trend has hit Kent - big time and as locations go Escape In The Towers - set within Canterbury's original former city gaol is pretty hard to beat. Muddy's game if you are...?
It’s a phenomenon that started in Japan and has spread rapidly around the world: the escape room – a physical game where participants solve puzzles and riddles against the clock to break out of virtual prisons, dungeons and other ‘locations’. The number of rooms across the UK has soared to around 1,200 this year and some of the very best have popped up in Kent.
So we decided it was high-time that Muddy took up the challenge and tried out the Kent escape room that’s been getting a lot of national recognition. It’s not surprising, because as locations go Escape In The Towers – set within Canterbury’s original former city gaol built in the 1830s – is pretty hard to beat. Muddy’s Hettie stepped forward to take one for the team and try it out, no doubt because she knew it was under the same roof as The Pound Kent’s Best Bar (as voted by you). Well, we all need a little Dutch Courage, right?
It’s 1994 and you’ve stumbled across Dr Wellington’s abandoned laboratory founded in 1883. Dr Wellington based his controversial crime and punishment experiments in the treacherous cells of the former city gaol which has since laid abandoned for 80 years after his sudden and mysterious disappearance. You and your cohorts have sixty minutes to escape before you are trapped for eternity….
With that in mind, off I set to try my luck, armed with three friends and my husband who was raised on a TV diet of Crystal Maze and Dungeon Master, so fancied his chances somewhat. Fuelled by a Westsider (Tanqueray gin, elderflower, lemon juice, mint leaves, prosecco) cocktail, I was also feeling prettttttty confident that we would be back in the bar within 30 minutes. How wrong could I have been…
What to Expect
Well I *actually* can’t give much away as that spoils the magic of the night but what I can tell you is that in a crisis, it turns out that I just snort with laughter and am totally incapable of doing anything whereas my husband and his friend like to use the loud-shouting technique which doesn’t always go far in a confined space. But the adrenaline (or was it the Westsider) kicked-in and I have to say it was the most exhilarating hour of my life (um, yes it did take a bit longer than expected) and I am already searching for my next Escape Room fix. The attention to detail in terms of props and storytelling was mind-blowing and a big up to Paul aka our real-life Dungeon Master who held the show together and thankfully provided some well-needed clues to ensure that we did get home before dawn. And where else to de-brief other than booking a Cell Feast or drinks at one of the Pound’s beautifully restored former police station cells after your session.
Who can do it?
Total of five people allowed at one time and I would recommend an age group of 10 and upwards to ensure that they fully embrace the logic and fun of the game. Maybe not for the weak-hearted or those who have a fear of small spaces. A perfect ice-breaker for those who don’t know each other and a winning way to discover the true colours of those that you do. Not everybody’s cup of tea for Valentine’s Day it seems as one guy unfortunately found out when he surprised his girlfriend by locking her in Dr. Wellington’s cell with him earlier on this year.
What’s the Damage
£19.00 per person -worth every POUND. Geddit…
Sessions, in theory, run for an hour and start from 12pm with 8pm as the last Escape Room of the night. They get booked up!
And for those of you who can’t easily get to Canterbury, there are other Escape Rooms around Kent including TimeQuest in Paddock Wood, The Escapement in Margate, CleverDilemma in Faversham and The Panic Room in Gravesend to name but a few but a former gaol in Canterbury is surely the best place to start?
Escape in the Towers, Canterbury
As locations go, this one is hard to beat: Escape in the Towers is set in the real cells of Canterbury’s 1830s former jail. The sinister storyline involves a dangerous doctor and an old crime and punishment lab, and there is an hour to escape. Tickets include entry to the Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint – this medieval gatehouse is the biggest surviving city gate in England.
Expert’s verdict “A game worthy of its amazing setting.”
• From £19pp, teams of two to five, over-12s, onepoundlane.co.uk