The best escape rooms in London are of course very subjective, but the ones I’d recommend first and most strongly are:
- AIEscape: Kill M.A.D. is an unsettling surreal game that reminds me of a Kubrick or Lynch movie
- Clue Adventures: The Book of Secrets, a conjuring-themed game packed with puzzles
- Cluequest: Revenge of the Sheep, which combines a fun tongue-in-cheek secret agent theme with lots of inventive custom tech
- Enigma Quests: School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a lovingly designed tribute to a certain series of books about a boy wizard
- Escape Plan: The Adventure Begins, a low-tech and thoroughly good WW2 adventure (which closed at the end of August, but its sequel is open from 16th September)
- Escape In Time: Secret Studio, created by a media company and with a particularly memorable ending
- and Time Run: The Lance of Longinus, perhaps the UK’s most famous game.
You should definitely also consider Time Run: Celestial Chain – while I wasn’t a huge fan of the game’s novel format, it is both ground-breaking and spectacular and places at the very top of many players’ lists of favourite games. Other stand-out games include Escape From The Room: Cabin in the Woods, a creepy but fun game built and run by an enthusiast in south London suburbia; and Breakin’ Escape Rooms: Heist Plan: The Garage, a Fast & Furious inspired romp with plenty of toys and physical puzzles.
But while those are the games I most often recommend, depending on what you’re interested in there should be others at the top of your list too.
For beginners, School of Witchcraft & Wizardry by Enigma Quests and Flying Dutchman at Breakin’ are great choices – both are nicely accessible to first time players, both look fantastic and are lots of fun to play. Other good options are TimeLock by Locked In a Room, Lady Chastity’s Reserve by Handmade Mysteries, any of the Cluequest games (Plan52 if you expect to eventually play them all and want to start at the beginning, Revenge of the Sheep if you’re not scared of a challenge, and Operation Blacksheep otherwise), or pretty much any of the better rated games in the city. Also Operation Escape: The Ops Room, which first-time players will likely enjoy much more than its rating on this site might suggest.
Experienced teams looking for something unusual should start by considering Time Run’s Celestial Chain. The genre-breaking format divides opinion, but it’s certainly different, and the game is even more high-budget and impressive than the original Time Run Game. Other than that, AIEscape does memorably different games, strong on narrative and puzzles – though their first game has now closed, so until their next game is open they have only the one game available to play.
With a team of two, almost any of the London games are suitable, including the ones listed as having a minimum team size of three. The cost may be more of a problem than the difficulty, since where the minimum team size is three you may need to pay accordingly even when you don’t have the third person. Some games that I think are distinctly better with a small team include Kill M.A.D., and most of the games at Breakin’ especially The Flying Dutchman, even though these are listed as minimum three players; conversely, Clue Adventures: The Book of Secrets is listed as suitable for two players, but would be pretty tough to complete without more people. If your main priority is to find rooms that are affordable for a team of two, then Modern Fables, Clue Trace, Operation Escape, Mystery Cube and Mind The Game are good options, all of which at time of writing will let you play for under £30pp.
For high-tech and/or visually impressive games, in addition to the ones mentioned above there is War On Horizon Alpha and Blackwing’s Cave at Breakin’, and Project D.I.V.A. and Dark Side of the Moon at Escape Rooms’ Angel branch. All four of those tend to divide opinion somewhat, with some players loving them and others finding some aspects of the games frustrating. Handmade Mysteries: Poppa Plock’s Wonky Workshop deserves a mention here too.
Conversely, if you hate tech and prefer your games hand-made and old-school, in addition to Escape Plan and Escape From The Room above, Escape Land‘s two rooms are great, and Mystery Cube is a lot of fun.
If you enjoy immersive/naturalistic, story-driven games, then try Modern Fables: The Escapist or either game at Enigma Escapes; or possibly Adventox, which is very much that style but which I enjoyed less for other reasons.
For enthusiasts at least, most of London’s games are best played with a smaller team, such as 3-4 people, even when they officially allow a team size of six or seven. If you have a larger group then Penitentiary at Omescape is a good choice, as is Handmade Mysteries’ Poppa Plock – in the latter case because it uses a public booking system so you need at least five people to have the game to yourselves anyhow.
London games tend to be expensive, so if you just want something cheap then check current deals on Groupon, and consider one of the companies that have cheaper prices during weekday daytimes (which about a third of them do); Breakin’s daytime prices go down to £14pp for students. Mind The Game is the cheapest option I’m aware of for a team of two, at £19.50pp.
If you don’t have a team and want to play with strangers, the two Handmade Mysteries games are by some way the highest quality of the London games with a public booking system, although Trapped In A Room With A Zombie is good fun too.
Finally, the venues best set up for large-scale corporate bookings are Cluequest and Locked in a Room. Cluequest also have team building and recruitment assessment offerings, if that’s something you might want.
Also, don’t forget to look outside the capital! If you were to assemble a list of the UK’s ten best escape games, it’s pretty indisputable that most of them would be outside London. Gravesend is more accessible from central London than some of the geographically closer venues, and has excellent games; and if you’re able to travel further, there are many great options.