A visit to the Didcot Escape Rooms

Escape Rooms are all the rage these days. Any town worth its salt seems to have one. And that includes Didcot!

I’m always up for a challenge so decided it was time for a family trip to the Didcot Escape Rooms. Hidden away on Southmead Industrial Estate, our first task was to find it. Fortunately one of the kids spotted a sign and we were soon ringing the bell to enter.

Didcot Escape Rooms

We were welcomed by Jack, our host, who settled us into the waiting room. After locking our phones away (no cheating!) Jack gave us our instructions and some helpful hints. Once ready we entered the escape room and the one hour countdown timer started.

I don’t want to give anything away but the room is filled with puzzles, clues and objects, some of which are red herrings, others help towards the escape. There are lots of clues to unlock (literally) to help you. The host watches your progress on film outside which sounds a bit weird but it means they can provide individualised help if required.

What did we think?

As an escape room newbie I found it quite tough to begin with. We floundered around in the dim light for some time, picking up items and wondering what the heck to do with them. I spent ages trying to solve a word puzzle only to find it much easier later on when further clues were discovered. We obviously looked in need of help as Jack popped a clue through the door without us asking for help.

After a while we started to to solve some clues. I think that once you get to grips with how the rooms work and the types of clue you might encounter it’s probably more straightforward. But that didn’t apply to us on our first visit!

A couple of tips. Check both sides of the clue tokens. I only realised it had writing (clues) on both sides when I picked it up again at the end. Doh. And secondly, if someone is collecting keys (for example,  your son) make sure they’ve tried them in every lock in the room rather than just holding onto them!

Did we escape?

Er no. But we were pretty close. I was disappointed until Jack mentioned the room only had a 30% success rate. Now I just want to back and have another go! As indeed I will when the room theme changes.

As this was my first time in an escape room I’m not sure how it compares to others. However there are lots of positive comments on Facebook and Trip Advisor from experienced escape roomers which is a good sign.

The cost

It is pricey. We paid £70 for our family of four (minimum age 10 years) for an hour in the room. As a family night out that’s significantly more expensive than bowling or a cinema trip. Although it works out cheaper if you go as one of a group of friends. And it is comparable in price to other escape rooms.

More about Didcot Escape Rooms

On chatting to Jack afterwards I was impressed to discover he’d created the puzzles and themes himself. I’d wrongly assumed it was bought off the shelf as a franchise.

Keen to support a new local business I contacted Jack again a few days later to find out more about the business. Over to Jack…

Why did you set up Didcot Escape Rooms?

I had played a few escape rooms and after playing one with my brother I said to him “We could do this. We have the creativity to think of a scenario and make games to fit in it”. After a few days of business planning we looked for a venue.

Why did you open in Didcot?

I grew up in Didcot and as a teen always moaned that there was nothing to do. That’s why I opened in Didcot, because I wanted the people of Didcot to have something to do.

How did you go about setting up Didcot Escape Rooms?

I did A level Business Studies at Didcot Sixth Form; in our first year we had a large focus on starting a business so I had a rough idea of what I needed to factor in. I looked into the best way of securing finance, bought insurance, worked out a reasonable budget and found an office space to rent. Once I’d done this I planned the first theme, scenario and games. I drew up a business model, thought about my values, designed a logo, created a website and I was up and running!

What do you enjoy most about the business?

The best bit is seeing how people react to the games I make. How the game challenges them but then how relieved they are when they work out the answers. What is even better is seeing the customers being so excited when they escape the room! Or the exasperation of being so close but not completing the game. It makes me happy to see my customers happy with their game and experience.

What has been the hardest thing?

The hardest thing for me is the building and improving the website. There is so much more I want the website to do and offer but I don’t know how to do it!

Owning a business is a lot of learning curves that you don’t know about when you start. Trying to keep to a budget is also tough. I would love to pay for a professional to improve my website but to try and do it myself is the most cost effective way. (Note from In Didcot, do get in touch with Jack if you can help him).

Lastly, can you recommend a Didcot business?

A shop that I use for my business who are very friendly, helpful, quick and high quality is K&K Printing and Embroidery. Located in the small section of shops on Brasenose Road I use them to get my business logo printed onto my work t-shirts and hoodies.

Thank you Jack, we’ll be back!

More info

If you’d like to book a game head over to the Didcot Escape Rooms website. You’ll usually need to book 24 hours in advance.

Have you been to Didcot Escape Rooms? What did you think?

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