Being a single mum means I don’t get out often. I’m overly picky with my babysitters, opting for close family members only, with my mum being my number one choice. If it wasn’t for my mum, I’d have to quit my day job as I often work evenings and weekends, so her and I very rarely get the chance to go out together. However, when I was invited to try out Escape Reality in Cardiff recently, it was an offer too good to decline. I wanted it to be a family night, so I arranged for Cici to go to her Grandad’s for the night so that my mum could join the rest of us. She deserved a night off too. Cardiff is a 45 mile trip from our sleepy little village in the South Wales valleys, so it would be a nice little treat for us all.
I bet you’re wondering what even is Escape Reality? Well, have you ever attempted those Escape games that are available on your Smartphone, where you’re locked in a room and must solve the clues to escape? Escape Reality is exactly that, only a real life version! Your team of 2-6 players are locked inside a themed room and together, you must solve the puzzles to escape within 60 minutes. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? I was slightly apprehensive. The smartphone version used to bring out the rage in me. I just couldn’t solve them and I’d angrily delete the games’ existence from my iPhone to stop me from losing my rag and throwing it at the wall in frustration.
Escape Rooms seem to be the in-thing in entertainment at the moment. I’ve heard them mentioned a lot these past few months and they seem to be popping up all over the place. The Escape Reality chain launched in Cardiff in August, but have plans to open in Leicester next month and in Glasgow this November. In the Cardiff venue, you have a choice of 6 different room, jungle themed ‘Jungala’ being the simplest to crack with a 3* difficulty rating, and ‘Alcatraz’, based on the real life notorious, high security prison, being one of the most difficult with a 5* rating. It was just our luck that this was the only room available for our preferred 8pm time slot, the others already fully booked. Prices depend on the number of players: the more of you there are, the cheaper it’ll be individually. You can book and pay online – use discount code IAMCARDIFF15 for 15% off!
We arrived 15 minutes before as requested, and were taken through the introduction that would lead us to our fate. Our host, Simon, was most helpful and explained how to use the tablet to ask for clues if required. Drawback? Each clue takes some time off the clock, so use this wisely! Simon also explained how we could flag his attention if we were really stuck, and he’d kindly come and give us a hand. Turns out, Simon’s help was required a lot more than we’d imagined that evening! We spent 30 minutes trying to work out the first part of the puzzle! In fact, we were actually given a little extra time being the final players of the day and we STILL failed! Another 5-10 minutes and I think we would have FINALLY cracked it. If you’re a Type 1 Diabetic like me, I’d recommend making sure you take some form of hypo treatment into the room with you just incase. If one of you wants or needs to leave for any reason, that means game over for the whole team. There is a locker available to keep the rest of your belongings in but just pop your hypo treatments into your pocket and away you go.
After the intro, it was time to commence. Although I’m tempted, I won’t ruin it for you by giving a blow by blow account of the room and the puzzles within, I’ll let you find out for yourself. But I will say that the attention to detail will blow you away! For over an hour, it felt like we were actually in another life. Their website states that children under 12 years can have a go as long as they’re accompanied by an adult. One of the main reasons I left Cici with her Grandad was because I wasn’t entirely sure how she’d react. I took her to an event last Halloween at a castle in my town, which they’d decorated inside as a haunted house. Safe to say Cici freaked out! We had to leave through a side door to get her out of there and she was shaking like a leaf. Evil Mummy, I’d traumatised the kid! So not knowing what to expect at Escape Reality, I decided to leave her at home. I suppose it depends on each individual child, I know Cici wouldn’t have liked it one bit, but if you’re in two minds whether or not to bring the kids, I’d recommend going by yourself first, sussing it out and then making a more informed decision for next time.
After leaving the room, we were offered a photo opportunity and given some props to pose with. We weren’t given a copy of the photo to take home with us, which made a refreshing change as most entertainment venues usually cash in on photo opportunities. It was, however, uploaded to their Facebook page for us to share on our own timelines. There is also a bar available if you fancy a little tipple before or after your session. Unfortunately, we had trains to catch so we didn’t stay afterwards, but next time we will for sure.
If you’re looking for something totally different to do, then Escape Reality is the perfect option. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, a hen/stag do or just in the city sight seeing, it’s a great all rounder. At a starting price of £22 per person for a team of 2 players, it sounds pricey, but it’s an experience worth trying at least once, even just to tick it off your bucket list. My family and I had a fantastic night. It was nice to see everyone’s personalities come out, and have the chance to work together as a team to solve each cryptic puzzle. And best of all? We got on like a house on fire and didn’t fall out once!
I dare you to give it a go… Will you accept my challenge? Be sure to keep me updated!
Disclaimer: I was given free tickets in exchange for an honest review, however the opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own!