In super exciting Escape Roomer news, we are growing! You’ll probably recognise their wonderful faces from pretty much all of the digital escape rooms we’ve covered in 2021 so far. But I’m super excited to extend Ash & Al a huge hello and welcome as writers!
Ash & Al join us from Sheffield, UK and will be regular contributors on all things escape room in the North, as well as the many play at home and digital escape rooms that we somehow manage to fit into a week together!
This is the first of many exciting updates, but the one I’ve been most excited to post about! You’ll spot their names popping up on a couple of brilliant reviews coming soon – but in the mean time, I’ll let them introduce themselves:
Hello! I’m Alice, a 26 year old, originally from Cheshire, UK. On a very rainy day back in 2017, my eyes were opened to the world of Escape Rooms. I’ve always loved board games and puzzles, but it is the immersion of an escape room that really pulls me in. I’ve introduced a lot of my friends and family to different rooms around the UK, and always enjoy taking a newbie into the unknown world of padlocks and puzzles! I have a terrible habit of booking escape rooms at about 4pm for 7pm that evening, but I think Ash and our friends are sort of used to that by now. One of my favourite escapes started with a 1 hour drive from Sheffield to Retford on a rainy, wintery night to play at Enigma Retford with Ash and two of our pals. We still talk about escaping Colditz now; the best spontaneous Sunday night ever!
Hi! I’m Ash, short for Aisling (ash-ling hence Ash), and I’m also 26. I’m from Northampton, UK, but I’ve lived in Sheffield for around 7 years now, since I came here for university (and absolutely love my adopted home!). I met Alice long before we had even heard of escape rooms, but conveniently, we both found that we love escaping as much as each other, making us the perfect team (although we are always happy to pull others in as honorary Escaping the Closet teammates- the more the gayer!). I love escaping in any format (like I need to say that haha!), but when I’m not escaping (or talking about escaping), I enjoy running, playing board games, spending time with animals, or going for walks in the Peak District which we are super lucky to have on our doorstep! I’m really excited to be guest blogging on TheEscapeRoomer, sharing all the brilliant escape rooms that the north of England (and beyond!) have to offer!
Ash & Al can also be found on Instagram at Escaping the Closet.
What was your first escape room?
So, back in 2017 we went on holiday with Ash’s family to the Lake District. As is often the way with holidays in England, and much to no one’s surprise, it rained. A lot. Ash’s mum suggested trying this escape room she had come across when looking for things to do that would avoid the rain, and we thought it sounded like fun, so we went and got it booked in. Little did we know that this would be the beginning of our escape room habit!
The room we played was a Haunted Pirate Ship room by Cliffhanger Rooms and it was fab! We all had a blast, enjoying the challenge of the various puzzles, the immersive decor and the fun of all working together and really getting into the story. Of course we didn’t smash it quite like we do now, but it was a successful escape which we were certainly very pleased with! We enjoyed it so much that the VERY NEXT DAY, when we got back from our holiday, we booked in another room with Al’s friends from home in Stoke.
Since then we’ve not stopped booking escapes, getting more and more of our friends and family involved and we’ve never looked back! How we had never tried one sooner we do not know!! (Ash lived in Bordeaux while at uni and used to walk past an escape room almost DAILY without knowing what she was missing! Oh how we kick ourselves now that we didn’t give it a go while she was out there!!)
Our very first escape that fateful day, so many escapes ago now!
What has been your favourite escape room?
This is a veeeeery difficult question…! There are so, so many to choose from (we are going to have to cheat ever so slightly and list more than one).
One of our shared faves is Dreamscape by Cryptology Nottingham. We played this as just us two and had such a blast. It’s got about 6 escape rooms all rolled into one, and you face such a HUGE amount of puzzles in such an original format which we really enjoyed. We escaped in about 55 minutes – but it flew by, ending with such a fabulous culmination where everything came together in a very exciting final dream sequence!
We also LOVED Ctrl Alt Esc‘s (based in Margate) rooms: Spacescape, Frankenscape and Detention. As a company, these guys really do go all out. If you ever want to do an escape room which involves a ROLLERCOASTER, then definitely try these guys out.
We have to shout out Escape Quest in Macclesfield too – any company that builds their own theatre for their escape rooms, you know is gonna be good!
You go into a new room, what’s the first thing you do?
Open every drawer! And then try them all again for luck. We are notoriously bad at searching in Escape Rooms, and have often lost valuable minutes looking for keys or clues that are hidden under chairs, in drawers, or simply on the walls (we have also been known to work in the dark due to our inability to FIND the light switch!!). So now, whenever we go into any room, we try to start with a thorough search before we get too sucked into the puzzles on offer!
(Side Note: this is not often successful…)
If you were given a blank cheque to create your dream escape room, what would it be like?
Omg we talk about this ALLLLLL the time and genuinely we wish we had some money so that we could create an escape room, that would be the DREAM! It would be sooo much fun! We have so many ideas for making the scariest escape room experience (probs so scary that Al wouldn’t even be able to do it haha!), but don’t want to say too much in case we ever do get the opportunity to build one (unlikely, we know!).
Also – we’ve done a couple of cat themed escape rooms which have been SO much fun, so that would definitely have to be a contender. Or maybe a horror cat room…with Tilly as the cute but evil villain…food for thought!
Now that lockdown is slowly easing in the UK, where are you looking forward to escaping from most?
We’ve tried to support the industry in all the ways we can during the pandemic and have loved seeing all the innovative escape games that creators have made throughout the lockdown period, and have really enjoyed being able to try games from more far-flung parts of the globe than we ever would have managed in normal times! But we have also really missed the thrill of an IRL room and are looking forward to getting booking some exciting new rooms we are yet to play!
We have been known to plan mini-breaks/holidays around where there are good escapes we want to take on, so we are looking forward to booking in some UK road trips to explore new rooms. We’ve spied a lot of good new rooms being developed in Kent, and we are sooooo looking forward to heading down there in the summer to discover what wonders places like The Escapement and Ctrl Alt Esc have been working on (because we’d already maxed out their OG rooms pre-pandemic!).
Not quite feeling ready for international travel just yet, but we have seen and heard SO MANY good things about rooms in the Netherlands and Belgium and would definitely make the short journey over for an escape room binge! Ash also used to live in the Netherlands and (ONCE AGAIN) kicks herself for not making the most of how easy it would have been to tick off all these amazing rooms while Al came over to visit! However, it’s a great excuse to head back over to one of our favourite places- to do one of our favourite activities and it’s something we definitely plan to do once we feel comfortable with the whole travel/pandemic sitch!
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.