Escape in Time: Escape from the Golden Hinde | Review

Escape from the Golden Hinde Review | Escape From The Golden Hinde is an interactive adventure on a historic 16th century galleon in the centre of London! The Golden Hinde is a perfect reconstruction of the ship Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world in the 1570s. The reconstructed ship also sailed around the world in the 1970s. It is haunted by ghosts from both journeys. So, the ship holds an unhappy mix of spirits – like a dodgy Rum Mojito. (Which, legend has it, was invented by Drake.) You will be locked on the ship with these ghosts. You will have 60 minutes to escape. You’ll also learn some history. But don’t let that stop you.

Date Played: 11th February 2022
Time Taken: 40 minutes
Number of Players: 5
Difficulty: Easy

Just a few days after we announced Georgie was joining The Escape Roomer, the two of us metaphorically “smashed the bottle against the boat”, by playing an escape room together… Quite literally on a boat! Not just any boat either, the iconic Golden Hinde in Central London, Sir Francis Drake’s original ship that has sailed around the world twice.

We were joined by Bianca, a new friend Jojo, and partner Keian who was celebrating his 100th room! First, we met up at The Old Thameside Inn opposite for a drink (or two) to get our sea-legs in ship shape before heading onboard with a triumphant cry: “We pledge to save to captain!

Team Scurvy Scallywags for the win!

Escape Room Versus Immersive Theatre

Mairi: Escape From the Golden Hinde isn’t an escape room exactly. Sure, it technically ticks the boxes (you’re in a room, you have to escape), but it’s actually a lot closer to immersive theatre. It has a certain mass-market appeal which means the puzzles aren’t overly challenging, and instead most of the enjoyment of playing this game comes from listening to the actors and putting your all into appreciating the historical setting and your pirate captains.

Sure, there were a few moments of “ooh how do we solve this?”, and without such a good team with me I’d probably have been quite stuck in a few places, but overall we whizzed through it in 40 minutes – record breaking speed!

Georgie: I think you hit the nail on the head for me there – I went in expecting an escape room, which it very much wasn’t, so had to temper my expectations pretty quickly! As a traditional escape room, I would say it was pretty underwhelming – the puzzles were very linear and easy. I think I personally solved one puzzle throughout the whole experience, and spent a lot of the time sat idly by watching other teammates complete the one or two puzzles in that area. However, I loved being on the ship and overall felt pretty immersed in it!

Addendum: Since writing this review, we’ve discovered that there are different difficulty levels of Escape From the Golden Hinde available to players. At full launch of this escape room later in the year, players will be able to choose!

The Golden Hinde | Photo (c) Georgie

Escape From Francis Drake’s Original Galleon

Mairi: Escape From the Golden Hinde uses the entire ship, which was very cool indeed. There are at least 4 unique spaces in this ship and the whole thing feels very ‘spacious’. Before heading in I was aware that they could take up to 3 teams at a time, but unsure of the specifics of how this works. Now I can confidently say that this would be achieved by staggering the start times. First team goes in, then 15 minutes later when that team is out of the first room, the second team goes in and so on to a maximum of three teams on the boat at any one time.

We were a very fast team and there was nobody else playing at the same time as us, so it’s hard to say how well this works at peak times. But the games masters *cough* I mean ghosts and pirates were fantastically savvy, I daresay they’re able to speed up or slow down a team as needed in each space to keep the pacing correct.

Georgie: I’m not sure I’d agree about ‘spacious’! I’d say the hard-hats we were given were definitely necessary – I’m only 5ft3 and felt pretty uncomfortable throughout most of the game – if you’re on the taller side I would definitely advise you to be prepared! I think it’s smart on their side to take the staggered approach, as in theory you should be able to gain more business that way, and each section was pretty easy to get through.

I worry about what might happen with, say, a novice group directly in front of an experienced group. How would they slow down that group without them feeling frustrated or bored? Or how would they speed up the others without them feeling spoon-fed or robbed? I suppose the rooms were pretty simple so there may not be much chance of that, but it’s definitely a thought.

Mairi: In terms of the story and using such an awe-inspiring historical ship, whilst I’m usually terrible at paying attention to the plot (“Hey does anyone remember what we’re meant to be doing?”) I did love that I left the ship feeling like I learned something new by the end! I’ve got a new found interest in the history of the Golden Hinde that two previous visits to the Golden Hinde museum hadn’t taught me. Escape rooms are educational!


Georgie: This is where I think they may be taking on too much at once. I love history – I’m a big history nerd so I was expecting to eat this up – but I actually felt like I didn’t learn much about the ship or got that sense of awe I was hoping for! I remember in the pub (the Old Thameside Inn opposite) afterwards I was confused about what was fact vs fiction, and I think parts of the story definitely passed me by.

I think perhaps it might have been nice to just have a little bit of a story ahead of each section, so it was more as though you were then experiencing a re-enactment of that. Instead, I didn’t really follow the thread of the overall story (if there was one) and the different sections felt quite disjointed – ultimately we just found the puzzles, solved them and moved on.

Meet Gooselegs & Jack(ie)

Mairi: My favourite thing about Escape From the Golden Hinde was the actor interaction. From the moment we first stepped onto the ship and were greeted by two very enthusiastic pirates, I knew we were in for a treat. But this interaction turned out to only be the beginning, for we were greeted by a further four unique actors during the course of the game. This cast of characters included historical figures, and sailors on the lash dancing around a disco room. It was nothing if not very fun!

Georgie: Yes, the actors were my favourite part too! The two crewmates who greeted us (Jack(ie) and Gooselegs) were absolutely superb. I was immediately drawn into the experience and having a good time. They had such a natural flow about them and were so witty and quick to interact with each other I could’ve watched a how show just with them! The other actors were pretty good too – nicely in character and friendly, but I felt we didn’t get as much time with them or build that rapport. I think this was really noticable when at one point we’d met a character, then another, and then suddenly asked to make a decision with not much to go on from either the story or our interactions!

Dubloons and Pieces of Eight (AKA The Price!)

Mairi: In terms of price, there’s no beating about the bush. Escape From the Golden Hinde is really, really expensive. At £43~ a ticket at peak times, it’s easily one of the most expensive escape rooms in London, if not the United Kingdom. It’s a conversation that comes up frequently within The Escape Roomer team – how do we measure value? What is a good price for an escape room? Personally I (Mairi) don’t think that any single escape room (at 60 minutes in length) should be priced at over £35 per person. A few exceptions here and there for ultra immersive, or extra long rooms. But that said, I can see how this price is justified in Escape From the Golden Hinde.

For starters, there are a number of live actors whose salaries must be paid. For seconds, you do get a cheeky drink (a small one, mind!) in the middle of this game included, which was a fun touch. It’s also an incredibly iconic location that most people wouldn’t normally be able to visit. When you play an escape room in a special location, I’ll admit that does come at a premium price (for example my previous “woah this is really expensive but cool and historical” at the Jersey Wars Tunnels for £150 for any sized team).

Was the Golden Hinde worth it? Maybe, kinda… Yes. We personally had a fantastic time and I like to say that if I had a great time then of course it’s worth it, right? But it’s hard to say if we could have physically afforded to pay full price, which for 5 players at £43 each would be £215. But if you can afford it, then by all means it’s well worth it for the unique-ness factor!

Georgie: I’d agree – we had a great time, but it did leave me itching for a ‘real’ escape room, and if we’d paid full price I would be feeling very short changed! Even if I switch to viewing it more as an experience, I would’ve wanted longer on the ship and more education/story aspects. I think this might be worth it if you want the experience of being on board the Golden Hinde, but if you’re looking for an escape room there are better rooms in London for a lower price.

However, I would gladly pay that premium price if I could just spend the whole hour watching Gooselegs and Jackie – they’re the real stars here for me!

A Note on Accessibility

Georgie: A quick note on accessibility from me – this is a historical ship, so unsurprisingly it wasn’t very accessible! There were lots of stairs, cramped spaces for the majority of it, dim lighting and loud sounds/puzzles requiring some hearing. If you’ve played “Secret Studio” you may be worried about jump scares, but let me assure you that there are no “scares” here!

The Verdict

Escape from the Golden Hinde is at an incredibly unique location in the heart of London and it’s quite unlike anything else we’ve played! Part escape room, part immersive theatre, there’s a lot of love gone into this room and it shows. In particular, we really enjoyed interacting with our hosts, Jack(ie) and Gooselegs, as well as the cast of fun characters we met along our adventure. At present, the high price point may be a barrier to play, and enthusiasts will probably not be challenged by the puzzles. But it’s still a delightful pirate-themed romp around one of the most iconic seafaring vessels in British history, and that’s pretty special!

Just like those explorers who claim to visit the furthest reaches and climb the highest mountains simply “because they are there”, I think playing this escape room should be done because it’s there. Escape from the Golden Hinde is an escape room that will not be around forever, and if you’ve ever wanted to don a funky hat on, talk in pirate-speak, and get very hands-on with an awesome piece of history, then now is your time.

It may not be our favourite escape room in London, but I’m really glad we did it and we had a great time. Decades in the future I’ll be walking around London with my grandkids and be like “I was once a pirate on that ship” and I’ll describe how I ran around the deck and hooked ropes, solved puzzles, hoisted the sails, and drank grog beneath a disco ball… And my offspring will be like “sure grandma lets get you home“. But I’ll have those fun memories!

Escape from the Golden Hinde can be booked by heading to Escape in Time’s website here.

Authors

Escape in Time: Escape from the Golden Hinde | Review
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