May 15, 2019
When Handmade Mysteries came to us asking whether we wanted to try out one of their escape rooms, we couldn’t say no! As huge fans of entertainment, we were only too happy to give a go to something described by one reviewer as ‘The Crystal Maze meets Crystal Meth’. Ooh err… How did we get on? Let’s find out!
Traipsing over to the Four Thieves Pub in Clapham Junction (a fascinating venue that is deserving of a whole blog post of its own), we were delighted to meet Gabriel, a lady of the night who took us to experience Lady Chastity’s Reserve, a wonderfully designed escape room where we’d have to liberate a bottle of wine in order to win. The production design was just stunning with atmospheric music, taxidermy and other macabre-themed props. Offering a name similar to the legendary Lady Chatterley, our kind host was also not short of innuendo throughout and regularly provided our team with numerous bouts of laughter during the introduction and rules run-through. Perfect for team building? Definitely!
Unlike many other escape rooms, the Handmade Mysteries team pride themselves on a slightly different approach to the norm – it’s fifty percent escape room and fifty percent pure theatre with Gabriel regularly walking in on our game to chastise us for breaking rules or being completely clueless as to how to get ahead in the scenario. But don’t go expecting spoilers here, oh no! You’ll just have to submit to the excitement yourselves.
We were fully immersed in the experience but must admit that we found it very hard going. Playing as a team of six, perhaps we were playing with one person over what might be an optimum playing experience with numerous voices calling over each other and a whole lot of second guessing ourselves throughout. There was also the added difficulty of playing in the dark; we were given a small torch each and assumed at some point that we might find a light to make things easier but nope! It’s dark throughout. Never mind! We tried our best.
When it comes to the puzzles themselves, we did okay. We solved some mysteries as quickly as they were uncovered whilst others left us completely flummoxed. Perhaps we took the words of our host a little too literally during the introduction as we were told not to do something at the start. We assumed that to mean “don’t touch until the very end” when in fact it probably meant “don’t touch until you find a relevant clue.” D’oh! C’est la vie. But for these and a few other errors, we might well have made it out in time. As it was, we…did not.
We’d like to say that we got close to achieving our aims of liberating the bottle of plonk at the heart of Lady Chastity’s Reserve but that would probably be a lie. We were at least a few puzzles away from completion but apparently we had solved other parts already, so who knows how we might have done had we just put two and two together and made four, rather than putting two and two together and making something akin to four to the power of three squared. Escape rooms, they really do send your mind in very strange directions throughout! With this in mind, we think escape rooms make for great team building opportunities; fantastic entertainment, fiendish puzzles and a whole lot of fun!
All in all, we had a mightily fun time at the expense of Handmade Mysteries, an experience made all the more fun by Gabriel who must be commended for her exceptional use of innuendo and for never once breaking character. Although it was one of the more difficult escape rooms we have experienced, we would certainly try another and hopefully this time the ‘Vagabonds’ might prevail.
For more information on Handmade Mysteries and their escape rooms, please click here.
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By Henry Fosdike