Margate: the Summer of ‘21 – a triumphant return to real-life Escape Rooms!

As mentioned in our introductory post, we are big fans of the escape rooms available in Margate, Kent (UK) and as Ash has family here, we make the trip at least a couple of times a year, giving us plenty of opportunities to explore the rooms in the sunny seaside town (and surrounding towns within a ~45 minute drive hehe).

After 18 months (looking @ u covid), we finally got to make the journey again, and of course, we booked in as many games as possible.

Instead of reviewing each room separately, here’s a ‘showcase’ of rooms we got to play this past week, in the hope that it might be useful for anyone planning a ‘staycation’ this summer. We’ve played a lot of (very good) rooms in this area in the past couple of years, so we will include our previous reviews too, to keep all the information together for you – sort of like a very niche ultimate escape room tourist guide.

A Guide to the Best Escape Rooms in Margate

Ash, Al and Mairi finally in person together!

Ctrl Alt Esc (Margate)

Complete puzzles and unravel the mystery in a highly themed, real life game that’ll have you laughing and making memories with your friends and family!

As Ctrl Alt Esc were the first company we (literally) stumbled upon, we figured this was a good place to start. In a previous life (pre-2017) before we had discovered the wonders of escape rooms, we had walked past this place on the sea-front, and wondered what it was all about. Little did we know, housed in that building was an entire Spaceship, and Frankenstein’s monster! These rooms are wonderful; hand-crafted and obviously built with a lot of passion and ingenuity. The company feels very friendly, with a great team spirit, and hugely enthusiastic GMs. We played their two original games, Spacescape and Frakenscape back in 2018, and after loving those, there is a lot of excitement at word of new adventures from them- first with Detention and now with their upcoming Quick-E-Mart game (which we are buzzing to try on our next trip!). 

Frankenscape ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

‘Scatty professor Alec Smart has gone missing in the midst of a very important experiment.The storm is coming and the lightning is key. You must take his place or forfeit losing his groundbreaking research!’

CAN YOU FINISH WHAT HE STARTED?

This room was brilliant! You begin by descending a flight of stairs, with thematic lighting and music. Ctrl Alt Esc does an amazing job of immersing you in the world of Frankenstein right from the off. The first puzzle you face is outside the main ‘room’, as you need to work to gain access to the laboratory in order to continue Alec’s research. We like rooms that begin in this way and find that it helps ramp up the excitement, as who knows what is to come!

The space itself is HUGE – and definitely fills up the 75 minutes allocated. We loved exploring the space that has been created, and the decoration was fantastic. There was a good range of puzzles (one featuring the use of a mallet and another using bellows, which were veeeery fun), including some that we haven’t come across before. The room stays true to its theme throughout, as you are tasked with rebuilding Frankenstein’s monster in time to awaken him! The ending was absolutely superb, and felt very ‘complete’ (and definitely made some of the scaredy cats of the room jump).

Photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc (so were the hats…)

Spacescape ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Escape Roomer Badge Badge of Honour

You and your crew are on a voyage to a newly discovered planet, but now the spaceship’s lights are flashing and alarms are sounding. Surely you can just turn off the warnings and forget about it, or maybe you need to prepare the escape pod…

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

This room was reminiscent of returning to the Wacky Warehouse (do people know what this is – or is this a strange Northern place?!), as players are brought into a legit (it felt very legit) spaceship to complete this room. Standout features of this experience include:

  1. Having to replenish and restock oxygen levels throughout the experience, again ramping up the immersion!
  2. Each player is assigned a particular role. We LOVED this aspect, everyone has their own little ability, which works really well alongside the ship theme. Plus, you get your own little jacket!
  3. There are some places which open up in this room that we would NEVER have guessed. Forget the wardrobe door in the corner with some sneaky hinges showing, we had to be given a couple of nudges to explore some places we thought couldn’t possibly be part of the game (but, wonderfully, they were!) 
  4. The ENDING. Oh wow – the ending! We can’t give this away here, but rest assured, this will be an ending like no other you’ve ever experienced. 

We played this game as a three (Al, Ash and Ash’s mum) – and had an absolute (excuse the pun) blast. We would definitely play this again, just to watch other players’ faces as they find out just how much Spacescape has to offer. 

Having a blast (photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc)

Detention ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Escape Roomer Badge Innovative

Take your seats. Sit up straight. Don’t answer back… As a misbehaving student you’re where you belong, but the teacher has just left the room and you have better things to do…

ARE YOU TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL?

As two very well behaved children, we went into this room ready to pay attention and follow the rules, but, obviously, things weren’t quite that clear…! This room is full of energy and humour, with an absolutely cracking soundtrack and some really amusing attention to detail. We played this game as a large group (6) and had a great time exploring the space together. We were a range of ages too, with Ash’s grandma joining us for the game (and having a great time throwing it back to school!). 

The room itself was very well themed, with the Game Master taking on a brilliant role, allowing Ctrl Alt Esc to pitch the room perfectly for various audiences. We ended up with a particularly ‘lively’ version, which was very entertaining. We have never come across a ‘school’ themed room before, and this was executed very well. 

We are really looking forward to seeing what games Ctrl Alt Esc go on to deliver. We will definitely make sure that we visit when we return to Margate! 

Photo courtesy of Ctrl Alt Esc (and the big pencil)

The Escapement (Margate)

The Escapement is located towards the ‘old town’ side of Margate, tucked away, ready to be discovered! We can’t believe we ever visited Margate without doing one of their rooms, but once we had the joy of playing, we played all three in pretty quick succession. One of the nicest touches the Escapement has is the tokens that are given to players following completion of a room – we’ve got all three of ours proudly displayed (we can’t wait to get some more!). What are these wonderful rooms, and what did we think of them?

The Pit ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Escape Roomer Badge Fun Factor

Do you have what it takes to save the planet in this journey to the center of the earth?

From the moment you descend below ground, the room provides complete immersion. We played this with four people, and there was plenty to keep the 4 of us busy and the puzzles were mostly very “hands-on”, which totally suited the scenario and also were a lot of fun! We always love it when a room has something we haven’t seen before and plenty of the puzzles here were completely new concepts to us, which we loved!

We really enjoyed the authenticity throughout, including the clue system which although is not totally unique, suited the situation perfectly!

We don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of discovering all the room has to offer but we have to say the way of getting from one section to another was a highlight and we were guilty of wasting some time enjoying the fun of this instead of ploughing on with the next puzzle 😂 this is one of those rooms you really don’t want to be over and we found ourselves taking our time, rather than pushing for an amazing time (not having a countdown in the room also helps with this, as well as the authenticity of the room) to maximise our enjoyment!

Honestly, we’re just sad we’ve already ticked this one off as it was a joy to experience! However, we’ve got our lovely Escapement token to commemorate our successful escape proudly displayed with those from their other rooms and look forward to expanding the collection and seeing what other marvellous adventures the Escapement will be offering when they reopen post-covid! One of the best!

Photo courtesy of The Escapement (unfortunately the big torch isn’t ours either)

Egyptian Exodus ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

All of you. Against a God. You must help the pharaoh pass onto the afterlife but…

Think sand – real life, authentic sand…(we wonder if it’s from the beach!?), some excellent decor and one of the most exciting doors to an escape room we’ve seen. These things combined throw players straight into Egypt, and into the very real wrath of a God. We have done a few games with this theme, but this one definitely stood out in terms of the quality of the puzzles (which all stay on theme throughout the gameplay!). Players need to rely on one of the lesser used 5 senses in this game, no spoilers, but we had fun with this part!

We played this game as a four, with Ash’s grandma and mum joining us on travelling into the dusty tomb, and hoping we wouldn’t end up in a sarcophagus. All of us had a great time in this game, we had heard that it was the most difficult of the three that the Escapement offer, so we were super chuffed to escape in a reasonable 37 minutes.

The end of the game was particularly exciting, with the wrath of the Gods closing in. This helped ramp up the excitement, and we were all relieved once we managed to escape from the tomb unharmed! A great game for families, there’s lots of fun physical things to do, but plenty to offer a solid challenge. 

Photo courtesy of The Escapement (and the Egyptian Gods)

Pirates of Polaris ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Are you pirate enough to navigate a ship on the high seas through thunder and lightning? Only time will tell…

We know this is a super common theme among Escape Rooms, but wow! We were so impressed with what the team had managed to put together. The floorboards, the walls, the ceiling, everything was creaky in the right places, and really made you feel like you were on a real life ship…OH WAIT – are those genuine artefacts from a real life 130 year old pirate ship called Polaris?! Yes, yes they are. 

The game began with us locked away in jail, and we had to work together in a small space to get into the rest of the game. We enjoy starting like this, as these puzzles are often a nice way to warm-up before the main event. Despite the size of this initial space being quite small, there was enough to keep all 5 of us busy! 

Once we did make it onboard, and into the ship, we were so impressed with the attention to detail. The room felt so real, and the puzzles were seamlessly intertwined with the space, making it feel as though we really were trying to get back to steering the ship, before the storm got the better of us. 

There were numerous rooms within this experience, and we had to work together (and hard!) in order to successfully navigate our ship to safety. This was one of the most ‘authentic’ rooms we’ve had the pleasure of playing, and we would definitely recommend – even if you tire of the pirate theme, you won’t be disappointed here!

Al looks so small…Photo courtesy of The Escapement

And the Escapement are due to soon be opening their eagerly awaited second branch over at Broadstairs. Keep an eye out for their announcements about this! We can’t wait to come back as soon as we can after they open and try them all out!!

Escape in the Towers (Canterbury)

If you are after a unique company who are running games from places with genuine historical value, then Escape in the Tower is definitely for you! All the games are set within England’s largest surviving Medieval gateway built in 1380, in the heart of Canterbury. Escape in the Towers have really brought history to life, using rooms that have never been opened to the public before, to host immersive (and challenging!) escape games.

We have been wanting to try these games for SO LONG. We’ve had our eye on them since we started escaping, reading many solid reviews and seeing the various accolades that the company has been awarded, it was only a matter of time before we made the short trip over to Canterbury to give it a go!

The Comms Room ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

The Escape Roomer Badge Immersion

You’re thrown in at the deep end to replace the recently deceased former Air Raid Warden Mr Parsons. Your job is to defend Canterbury from a barrage of air attacks by deploying air defences and performing your duties, all the while unravelling the mystery of an unknown traitor sabotaging your every step.

It took us a bit of time to decide which room we wanted to experience first, but logistics seemed to sort that out for us, and we booked the Comms Room – ready to try our hand at defending Canterbury! The first thing we have to mention is the set. The room is set in a genuine WW2 comms room and you can feel the authenticity as soon as you step through the door. It takes place in one room, but this space is jam-packed with so many puzzles, you wouldn’t have time to go anywhere else.

There was a bit of searching, but luckily with a team of 5, we managed to stumble across everything eventually (apart from one key, damn you key!). The puzzles were thrown at us from all angles (literally), as we explored parts of the room we did not expect to access in our escape. There were a lot of physical touches, including the use of a spanner, which helped increase the realism further. The clue system was brilliant – and tied into the storyline – which was SO clever. We loved this.

The finale of the room was so EXCITING. The music, the atmosphere, the story! Everything came together to a head, in a super intense finale which required teamwork and communication, bringing in some of the intensity that must have been felt in this room’s past. We cannot wait to go back and explore some more of the towers. A nice side note: the company offer free entry to the Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint as part of the Escape Room purchase, which we didn’t have chance to do, but looked fun!

Other games available: THE CRIME & PUNISHMENT LAB, MAGNA CARTA MURDER

A blurry escape courtesy of One Pound Lane: Escape the Towers

Escape Kent (Canterbury)

Kent is the gift that keeps on giving! Escape Kent is yet another brand we’ve discovered on our adventures in the South and we are pleased to say that it also offers some top quality escaping (we are very pleased there are a lot of rooms here as it gives us plenty of Escape Rooms still to play!). We originally chose to play ‘The Haunting’ room, however, we got about 6 minutes into the experience before the host informed us that the tech had unfortunately broken in this particular room. However, we will definitely be trying that room again. We were teased with some excellent decorations and some suitably creepy looking curtains…

Escape Kent were quick and professional, and offered us an alternative straight away. Shout out to some excellent customer service here. We crossed the road, and ended up losing our minds…

The Asylum (previously named Vice Versa) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Trapped inside The Asylum with nothing but your own troubled thoughts. It is down to you to control your mind, unveil hidden compartments and solve the interactive puzzles that stand in your way of freedom….Of course you will want to do so before your competitors do! After all, no-one likes to be second best.  

We HAVE to talk about the theming. What a strange and surreal concept. There was no decoration, no objects, no props, just 5 bewildered people and 4 white walls. However, it soon turned out that this room had SO much to offer. We are going to have to be vague to prevent any spoilers, but there was absolutely loads to do in here. We discovered puzzles after puzzles, all different kinds, and had our work cut out trying to finish them all.

Despite the lack of decoration, the game manages to immerse you well, as players are faced with a huge variety of hidden puzzles, and the open nature of the gameplay meant anyone could be solving anything at any time…which made for some intense puzzling! It works well for larger groups, as everyone has their own strengths, and some puzzles that one person thought “no thanks I hate it”, another person took one look at and solved immediately. The room tells you a lot about yourself! We got out in 40 minutes, which we were super stoked with. We are really glad we got to play this game, definitely a positive spin on an unfortunate technical glitch!

Other games available: Missing, The Haunting, Pirates of the Stormy Seas, Jail Break, Raider of the Lost Tomb, Kidnapped, Missing at Christmas 

Some very white walls.. Photo courtesy of Escape Kent

Real Life Games (Ramsgate – now closed)

Feline Fiasco [kitties now rehomed] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Do you and your colleagues have what it takes to restore balance to Calico Village by finding and rescuing all of the missing cats?

This room was totally different to anything we have come across before, with a unique theme, and a completely original setup. The decor was wonderful, and featured a vast space that opened up alongside the story, really fitting the storyline and setting of the escape, as well as being very aesthetically pleasing- everything had clearly been carefully considered and was there for a reason.

The puzzles were a mix of traditional padlocks/solving as well as the clever use of items/objects from the room. The theming was strong throughout, with the narrative developing to a fun and well thought out conclusion. The props used in the room were brilliant, we spent a lot of time laughing at the developments and found ourselves thoroughly enjoying all aspects of this room.

This is a room that will cater to newbies and enthusiasts alike, giving you a 70 minute goal to free as many cats as possible! We squeezed out in a jam packed 69:30 minutes, aided by Chris kindly providing us with helpful nudges throughout to ensure we escaped with a few seconds to spare, while remaining fully immersed! 

All the kitties! Us in our element.

Extinction [now Extinct] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You and your friends having recently contracted the virus have been selected as ideal test cases for Dr Ruoff Nevesorezenin’s NV31 antidote but when you arrive at the surgery it becomes apparent that an unfortunate set of circumstances has occurred.

Can you and your team figure out how to get your hands on everything required to save humanity…

Unfortunately, this room is no longer in action, but we did enjoy it when we played, and thought we would leave a few thoughts about it! The decoration was quite minimalist, but went along nicely with the theme. As the space opened up, the game got more exciting as we discovered new places, which really helped to ramp up the excitement. One of our distinct memories of the room is a plant, and the dreaded searching! This was definitely something that slowed us down in this game – especially as we tackled it as only a team of two. We would have recommended this room to newbies to the escape world, but alas, it appears it is now…extinct (which is very sad, Real Life Games were lovely hosts with a passion for Escape Rooms).

Interesting that Al has the scarf on here but Ash has it on the other picture…

The Panic Room (Gravesend)

When we realised that we were driving DIRECTLY past Gravesend on our journey down the UK, we got very excited. Escape Room enthusiasts around the country have all heard of the Panic Room, and their HUGE breadth of games that they offer. But not only that: all of the games are designed with passion and ingenuity. There are so many to choose from, and so many unique themes, visiting Gravesend definitely feels like an enthusiasts’ dream come true, especially with their new shop opening (we had never seen so many Exit Games!!!).

If you are ever within 1, or 2…or 3 or 4 hours drive from Gravesend, get yourself booked in (you can literally make a day, or two days even of it!). You won’t be disappointed; we certainly haven’t been, and we’ve only played a few! 

Loop ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Escape Roomer Badge Innovative

Be the first to test a pioneering new technology, in an experiment that will change the course of human history.

Welcome to Frontier Engineering — a private research and development company working on nuclear transmutation, quantum tunnels and the applications of dark energy.

This room is genius. The gameplay starts off very typically, as you solve puzzles and progress through switching on the three lights required to start the ‘portal’. We settled into our puzzling, enjoying the range of both physical and technical puzzles on offer, and making steady progress through the room. Then, SOMETHING HAPPENED. We can’t say what, but what a twist! We spent the second half of the room feeling a huge time pressure, and infinitely more immersed than we spent the first half. The gameplay that has been set up by the Panic Rooms feels so simple, but it is so, so effective. On reflection, it’s interesting to think about how we performed and communicated differently in the first half of the room compared to the second – you could do some fun science experiments playing on this concept!

We managed to escape in a solid time of ~45 minutes, and we were filled with relief to know that we had not just escaped, but SUCCESSFULLY escaped (there is quite a big distinction between the two in the room, you’ll have to play to find out what we’re talking about!). We really enjoyed what the team has created here, and this was an additional layer to the escape that we have never come across before. Definitely one for your bucket lists!

Going Loopy (too cheesy?) – Photo Courtesy of the Panic Room

Wizard of Oz ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Follow the yellow brick road, make your way into the Emerald City and step into the Wizard’s shoes! You’ll be sure to make some friends along the way, so work together to fix your hot air balloon before time runs out! Are you ready for the flight of a lifetime?
This review has been written by Mairi when we all FINALLY managed to meet in person (YAY). Please see here for the review (we love Mairi’s writing so definitely best to read it in her words)!

Dino Land [also now Extinct!] ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

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?

We had heard amazing things about this experience (definitely an experience rather than a typical ‘escape room’ – but not to its detriment).We took a big group as everyone was keen to get involved (and we had bigged up this room for a long time!). Upon arrival, our ranger, Lucy, welcomed us and got us ready to enter Dino Land!

The experience starts as soon as you walk through the gates of Dino Land; the theming and decoration is incredible, with the whole place immersing you with the dinosaurs right from the beginning. The puzzles were on the easy side, and our ranger guided us through these to progress the storyline. At times this felt like a departure from the normal feeling in an escape room of ‘hmm…what do we need to tackle next’ as we were often told what the current task was. However, this is an experience to give yourself over to and you can have so much fun immersing yourself in the game.

Although the puzzles were not the most challenging we have come across, they were varied and tied in well with the action going on in the park- there were some extremely fun physical elements which made everyone feel like they were in an action movie! 😊We were rushed from room to room, admiring set after set, and watching the story progress, and even coming face to face with some escaped Dinos!! 😬

Love the attention to detail, check the number plate! (Photo courtesy of the Panic Room)

Bonus content: Sacrifice ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

You and your friends have been kidnapped! A satanic cult has been stalking you for a while now, and you’re due to be sacrificed in just 25 minutes to the one they call Mother. That is, unless you can work together and escape the van before your time is well and truly up!

Mother is great! All praise Mother!

It was about 8pm that we finished Dino Land, and the escape room adrenaline rush was so real! We pulled in Ash’s uncle and brother to play another game with us, as we weren’t quite done with The Panic Room just yet…Luckily, we managed to squeeze into Sacrifice (is it lucky to be kidnapped…?) to try our hand at one of the shorter games offered by The Panic Room.

We’ve never played an escape room in a van before, but this was really fun! We were on it for puzzling, we must have been energised from our time in Dino Land, as we managed to escape in a super quick time of around ~10 minutes! Obviously there are less puzzles on offer, so this wasn’t too bad, we still felt like we had worked for our win. This concept seems like a great idea for hosting escape rooms on a more fluid basis, at festivals or events. We would definitely try another!

The blurriest of photos.. I feel like you can tell it was nearly 10pm! Courtesy of the Panic Room

Other games available: there are SO many. Too many to list…head to the website to see the lowdown! 

There’s our rundown of what we have experienced (so far) of the escape rooms that Kent has to offer. There is literally TOO MUCH to choose from. We love our trips here and the variety of rooms that we can easily access. If anyone is taking a staycation this year – Margate would be an excellent choice! Let us know what other games there are to play in Kent…we are always on the look out for more!

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