What do Hanson’s Mmmm Bop and Trainspotting the movie have in common? They were released 1996 – the same year as the world’s very first ‘Escape the room’ adventure was open to the public in California.
Fast forward 20 years and now we have our own awesome version tucked away in Chester train station called Rooms Quest. So we rounded up some friends and went to go see what all the fuss was about…and we’re glad we did.
On arrival we met the main man himself Rob Wilkinson, owner, founder, creator and puzzle extraordinaire of Rooms Quest. Almost immediately it was clear his true passion lies in puzzles, brain teasers, riddles – you name it. He resigned from his full time job in light engineering and started up Rooms Quest simply because he wanted to follow his true passion. I can’t think of anything better than making an honest living from doing something you absolutely love .
Jailbreak, the name of Rob’s very first escape room, involved us realising we were “locked” in the backroom/cloakroom of a casino nightclub. We had an hour before the security guard came back to check in on us to escape the room. I lied. There were two rooms in the puzzle and lots of surprises along the way.
I can’t tell you much about the puzzle itself otherwise it would give away too much…and I wouldn’t want to ruin the game for anyone thinking of going (Rob says he swaps around combination locks and codes anyway so ha ha to all you thinking of cheating). All I can say is you do have to use your brain but I think most of it is common sense and, surprisingly, common sense isn’t that common (the taxi man behind Frodsham Square Tesco told me that). Add in a dash of thinking outside the box and you might just win the game.
My personal favourite part was the hints – not just because they helped us but because Rob could clearly hear we were struggling and up popped a message on the timer screen in the room. I realised he was live-typing the message, as opposed to a robot typing it, because I absentmindedly asked to no one in particular: “Does he mean this drawer?” and he types “…yes.” Genuinely, it made me laugh so much, I would just visit again for that alone.
We didn’t win – but we were very close. I myself kept wandering around and finding objects and unlocking things accidentally through pure fluke, but the rest of my team were using their very best detective skills. My advice would be to work as a team, communicate and assign a leader. Rob told us people were unscrewing things off the walls to find clues – so he said “If it doesn’t move, it’s not supposed to.” He does all DIY repairs himself – so that’s something to keep in mind.
Rob tells us he plans to open another escape room in the next month and another one after that – Platform 7 3/8ths and Safe Haven. We can’t wait to check them out. But in the meantime, we’ll leave you with a riddle of our own…
What has rivers but no water,
cities but no buildings,
forests but no trees?
Located in the East Wing of Chester Station.
When facing the station, its the green door to the right of the station entrance.
Book now at www.roomsquest.co.uk