I have to admit, the first time I entered a Panic room I was filled with trepidation and nerves. What the hell was this all about and was I mad to pay to be locked in a room and work out how to get out? But then again, being locked away from whingeing kids, housework, laundry, general life chores does have a certain appeal, no?
I think like most people the questions I had were will we get out? Will it be really scary? Will people jump out at me? Will I know what to do?
Of course once you go or it and sign yourself over to the waiver, there is no going back. (Well, actually, in truth there is because you can ask to leave the room at any time, not that you will).
Given that I am lucky enough to have the U.K.s biggest escape room business right on my doorstep, you could say the Panic room found us and after that first experience we were hooked. Since it opened in Gravesend three years ago The Panic Room has gone from strength to strength, expanded to four sites and 21 different themed rooms.
What I love about the immersive experience of a panic room is that it brings an entirely different tone to a night out, whether a birthday, a school mums get together, date night or just because.
Booking a panic room brings together a group of friends in a totally different way to a meal or drinks in a pub (although we have certainly done both before and after our panic room to debrief!). You’ll leave real life at the door whilst you absorb the incredible set each room has to offer, work as a team and see each others strengths and weaknesses to crack the puzzle that ultimately determines whether you beat the clock.
Every one of the seven or so rooms I have been in has been entirely unique. The detail in the set is mind blowing and each one has it’s own memorable surprises along the way.
You’re never really alone as your games master will brief you fully and never be far away to offer you support should you need it. Clues are available on request, and in my experience it’s inevitable you will need one or two.
Not all of the rooms are scary, and some are more analytical or political than others. That said if a scary room is what you’re looking for, the Dollshouse, The Happy Institute or Sacrifice are ones to go for.
For us, The panic room has always been an adults only night out, but most rooms are suitable for ages 8+ (Children 8-11 require an adult over 18 in the room with them). The Dollhouse is suitable for ages 16+, however 12+ is allowed with parental consent & supervision.
You’ll have a chance to leave your bags, coats, phones in a free locker and use the loo before you go into the room, and it’s important to know you can’t take photos or share any clues about room puzzles as you’d totally ruin it for others. The games master will offer to take a team photo at the end, so don’t worry if you need a photo to know it really happenned (guilty) you’ll get a chance! Plus you’ll want to share with the world your record breaking time…
So without revealing any spoilers OBVIOUSLY here are the panic rooms I’ve taken part in and a little bit of info about each, to help you get a feel for what a panic room is all about…
The Dollshouse (Locked In)
His collection grows night by night. Will you be become his latest victims? Can you find a way out where so many have failed before you?
A deranged killer with an obsession for dolls and mannequins, known for stripping the flesh off of his victims and much, much worse is on the loose. The police are on a nationwide manhunt to locate the psychopath and his ever-expanding list of playthings; they’ve yet to find a lead. You have been chosen as his next subjects, but you’re not alone…
Work together to achieve your freedom, or become part of the collection!
A classic horror experience, this grim and haunting tale with many twists and turns is guaranteed to get your heart racing, blood curdling and adrenaline pumping. This is an escape room you really will want to get out of!
This was my first and possibly favourite panic room. It’s creepy, gory and feels a little like you’re in a Saw movie. It’s crazy how immersive this experience is and was like nothing else I’ve ever done. Terrifying? Yes, but also bloody brilliant.
Old Father Time (Escaped 59:22)
It’s New Year’s Eve and Old Father Time – The master of the most powerful force of nature – has gone missing! Without him, the clocks won’t reset at midnight and the sands of time will run out – permanently!
The effects have already started – the forest creatures have started turning to stone, and in 60 minutes, the waves of time will cease to ripple and the rest of the world will follow suit! Start a new chapter and work together to explore a beautiful tree cabin straight from the pages of a fantasy novel to discover the secrets inside. A mystical fairy tale escape room awaits where time is more important than ever!
This award-winning room is perfect for adults and kids alike. Don’t let the beautiful scenery fool you: tricky challenges and puzzles lie ahead. Can you save the day and time itself?
Old Father time could not have been more different than the Dolls house and really opened my eyes to how varied each Panic room is. The decor in this room is breathtaking and it’s one I know my girls would love when they are a bit older. It’s enchanted mystical nature will captivate you, but don’t be fooled, you’ll still need to bring all the brains to crack the games to escape the room.
The Gilman Hotel (Escaped 54:30)
Sadly this room is no more…which is a shame because it was another excellent escape room, typical of The Panic Room standard. The decor in the room was of a vintage hotel vibe and had one of the best Panic Room memories yet. We did this one on my birthday and one of the couples was a detective and CSI. Not that it helped much, we still needed plenty of clues!
Ten Fathoms Deep (Escaped 55:32)
The H.M.S Rapture – Her Majesty’s long lost submarine from the cold war era – is about to implode! The pressure is building, the water is rising, the safety glass is about to crack! Race against the clock and your opponents in an unforgettable battle of wits and puzzle-solving prowess!
When two rival scavenger squads boarded the vessel, it was accidentally set to self-destruct! Two identical rooms, two crews trapped: only one emergency escape pod remains! Can your team reach the surface? Or will you drown as your rivals seal their victory and your fate? It’s a fight to the finish in this competitive versus event!
The Panic Room’s first versus game makes a huge splash in a sublime experience perfect for teams large or small! Up to 10 players can join this motley crew. Sink or swim, this adventure will definitely be on your radar!
We played this game for my best mates birthday and it’s the perfect solution when you have a larger group. It’s a team Vs team game so it will bring out the competetive side in you. The fact you can see the other team progressing (and hear their cheers) makes the room totally enfuriating and makes that clock not the only thing you need to beat! Again the backdrop is incredibly realistic and you’d be forgiven for believing you really are ten fathoms deep…
Enigma (Escaped 56:08)
This is a matter of national security! There is a traitor amongst us! Your mission: locate the traitor and escape, before something unthinkable happens! Your country needs you!
A small group of cryptographers have been stationed within Bletchley under orders to uphold National Defence through intercepting and deciphering intelligence. This department became the “Bletchley National Defence Cybersecurity Unit” in 2010.
Just recently, one of the cryptographers uncovered a threat to the Government network and was horrified to realise the traitor was in the team!
Your commander has narrowed the suspects down to five people, but has now mysteriously disappeared leaving only a trail of clues behind!
An awesome Cluedo-esq adventure of deduction and intrigue. The quintessential escape room experience, perfect for veteran players and newcomers too! Can you find the traitor and escape in time?
I knew very little about this game before walking in, and it was again, a unique Panic room set with a vintage vibe. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to solve a mystery of Bletchley park. One for the history buffs, this room will pick on your strategy skills to unlock who is the traitor. The perfect Sunday afternoon game which definitely isn’t scary at all.
Dinoland (Escaped 64:38)
It’s instinct or extinct at Gravesend’s biggest award-winning Cretaceous creation! Make your way through Dino Land headquarters, and come eye to eye with Prehistoric Predators from the past!
Our state-of-the-art facility is looking for new Rangers! However, it seems you may have a tough first day of work… The Dinosaurs have escaped! Time for drastic Jurassic measures! Can you get to safety and restore the park’s security? Or will it be a Triassic triumph for these rampaging reptiles?
2000 square foot of fossilized fantasy! A larger-than-life 75 minute dino-might experience for young and old in an adventure like no other! Over 4000 Rangers have taken on the challenge! You could say it’s been a… Roaring success!
Oh my gosh. Dinoland. We waited eagerly for this much anticipated room to be finished and had to book WELL in advance to get a decent weekend evening slot. But, get one we did and the school Mums and I had a hell of an evening living out Jurassic Park right here in Kent.
This multi roomed escape game is a 90 minuter and you’ll need it to enjoy the rollercoaster ride which has you running back and forth, escaping the jaws of dinosaurs whilst of course, solving all the cryptic puzzles.
This game is a MUST DO for every escape room lover, and Dad Muddling Through is still pretty pissed that I did it without him.
Revolution Ole (Escaped 42:30)
You’ve stormed the President’s palace. El Presidente has fled but will be back with reinforcements – in one hour. Now it is up to you to seize power!
He has the entirety of La Isla’s Banana republic in his grasp and it’s about time for power to change hands. There are riots in the streets, demanding immediate changes to the law. Your goal: Win over the five most influential people and their followers to your side, before the president returns, or be kicked out of the palace and arrested faster than you can say “Ay Caramba!” Your glorious new era is within your reach!
A revolutionary game design that allows you to vote on reforms and improve popularity. A game unlike any other that veteran players will love! Up for the ultimate challenge? ASK FOR HARD MODE!
The latest of my Panic Room badges of honour, I took on this room with a bunch of girl friends for my 38th birthday recently. We’ve all completed various panic rooms and it was a case of elimination until we found one no one had done yet (you can’t really do a panic room twice). This room has been described by some as marmite and I have to be honest and say this was probably my least favourite room, but then again politics aren’t my strong point!
For the experienced escape roomers you’ll love the intense and complex vibe of this room. You need to be on your toes, quick off the mark and working as a team to overthrow El Presidente.
Of course, we got out and with my best time yet, but then again…who runs the world?
The Panic Room team have never got complacent and have refreshed and designed the games over and over. The minds behind the rooms have never failed to create something incredible and mind bending and there’s always a room in my back pocket I’m dying to book next.
Currently, I’m itching to get myself locked into the Happy Institute, whilst Tigs has never let me forget I promised I’d take her to play The Wizard of Oz. Then, Christmas will be here before we know it and this year I have to try the North Pole game! There is also an exciting new collaborative experience with Julius Caesars restaurant which includes both mystery game and dining – the perfect night out for up to 10 people. I’m intrigued to find out what that would involve, but if there’s pizza and panic, it’s sure to be a winner.
As you can tell, I’m a huge supporter of this local family business and am proud to have it in my home town. This is an innovative, intelligent and all round ingenious brand that deserves every success. It’s an interesting and indiscriminate evening of fun that you’ll struggle to forget.
All you need to remember is… don’t panic.
Disclosure: I was gifted the Revolution Ole experience. All other rooms were paid for. Opinions are my own.