Escaping reality. . . eventually!

Grand Escape, Birmingham
Didn’t quite make it. . . Grand Escape, Birmingham

EVER felt like just escaping from reality?

Me too. And why not go the whole hog with a fun escape room experience.

This clue-cracking escapology is not a new phenomenon anymore. There’s quite a few new escape rooms opening their doors – and then firmly locking them again! – around the country. And I’ve had a fun – and at times frustrating – time negotiating many of them.

It was with curious anticipation then that I grabbed a handful of friends (kicking and screaming) and headed to one of the Midlands’ newest venues to put our teamwork to the test. (It didn’t bode well. . .)

Grand Escape in Birmingham has opened two rooms to budding escapees including Quest For The Grail. But our destiny was of a more ghostly nature as we were nervously ushered into Paranormal Room 1409.

Dubbed ‘one of the hardest escape rooms in Birmingham,’ confidence wasn’t high among our team of novices.

The scene is set when, on booking into a hotel room during a spontaneous weekend in New York, it becomes clear only one room is available: Room 1409. On a previous trip you had heard a spooky rumour about that exact room. . . something about a group of unsuspecting holiday-makers being locked inside and vanishing. But it couldn’t be true, could it?

With few other options, you are shown to your room and all is fine. But as you hear the key turn in the lock, reality and paranoia begin to blur. You have one hour to get out. . .

There is a series of questions and riddles posed and time is of the essence as you’re only given 60 minutes to advance your way through the challenges and escape.

It might be a padlock combination, a numeric interpretation or clever riddle you’re tasked with solving. Each step moves you one step closer to the finish line – a bit like a metaphorical board game.

Our group of four ‘roomies,’ as I like to call us, all brought something different to the table – although not quite enough it seems as we failed to make it out in time – and that was despite a lot of clues and prompts courtesy of the TV monitor.

It brought an interesting new set of dynamics to our friendship group and was a fascinating experiment in all sorts of ways. Exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure, successfully completing this quest requires top teamworking, and communication skills as well as lateral thinking.
But most of all it requires a desire to just go with the flow – and have fun.

It’s hard not to take an escape room too seriously. As soon as you’re left to your own devices something comes over you. Failure is NOT an option. Except it is. . . so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t make it out in the time. (I’m bound to say that I suppose!)

Great fun though – and there’s always next time. . . tick tock tick tock. . .

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