Escape rooms: would you pay to get locked up?

Would you pay to get locked in a room for an hour, having to find clues and solve puzzles in order to escape? So-called ‘escape rooms’ have been popping up all over the world for the last decade or so. The earliest escape room originated in 2007 in Japan, when Takao Kato witnessed a classmate playing a video game in which she was locked in a room, and had to find clues and solve puzzles in order to escape. Earlier this year, the Financial Times reported that there were thousands of escape rooms worldwide, with 150 in the UK. Here, the number of escape rooms has doubled every six months for the past three years and London alone has 55, up from just 3 in 2013.The escape room craze has also taken over Cardiff. No less than five escape rooms have opened up in the Welsh capital since last year: Escape Rooms on St. Mary Street, Adventure Rooms on the corner of City Road opposite Cardiff Royal Infirmary,  Escape Reality on St. John St, City Mazes on Trade Street, and Breakout Cardiff in the Brewery Quarter. 

I popped down to Breakout Cardiff a few weeks ago with some friends to see what all the fuss is about. Tucked away into a corner of the Brewery Quarter, next to Five Guys and Bella Italia, these escape rooms are easy to miss.  

Escape rooms at Breakout Cardiff
Since opening in June, Breakout Cardiff has introduced more escape room scenarios and now offers a choice of three different rooms with their own storylines, riddles and twists. Classified, the easiest room with a 50% breakout rate, sees you you sit your final entrance exam to become a secret agent, by escaping from the room. Meanwhile, in a sequel to Classified, Sabotage sees you embark on your first mission of disabling a rocket launch and has a breakout rate of just 20%. 

Classified, Breakout Cardiff
We preferred the sound of Breakout Cardiff’s newest room (pictured above), the Cursed Carnival. You and your friends win a prize at the carnival, but this is no ordinary prize. Since you took it home, you’ve had terrible nightmares and heard a spooky voice telling you to return your prize within seven days. You go back to the carnival on the seventh day and head to the old repair shed, where you have to break the curse within 60 minutes, or your nightmares will come true.

I’ve been asked not to reveal too much about what went on inside the room, so as not to spoil the surprise for others. However, I can tell you that there are no physical challenges involved in any of Breakout Cardiff’s escape rooms; instead, you have to physically search for clues by turning over objects and looking for anything usual or out of place, use your brain to solve cryptic puzzles and padlock combinations and, above all, work together as a team. If you get really stuck, a clue will appear on a TV screen in the room. 

It’s a bit like being on 90s TV show, The Crystal Maze; just without the thrill of collecting crystals as you go along, or that creepy bald guy in the leopard print jacket watching you (at the time of writing, I’ve just discovered that The Crystal Maze now exists as an escape room in London – this fills me with excitement!)

In Cursed Carnival, you can expect creepy clowns, jack-in-the-boxes and playing cards. 

Cursed Carnival, Breakout Cardiff
So, did we manage to escape within an hour?  Well, just… with two minutes and 46 seconds left to spare! Here we are in our team photo for Breakout Cardiff’s ‘Wall of Fame’ (losers, beware – they also have a Wall of Shame – and all photos are posted on Facebook!)

We had a really great time at Breakout Cardiff. Once you’re locked in the room, the time flies by as you have to stay focused on solving clues. The puzzles were challenging and some of them took us a while to figure out, but we enjoyed thinking outside the box and working together.

So, it turns out that being locked in a room for an hour is actually quite an enjoyable experience, and one that I’d happily take on again. After you’ve done your first escape room, you’ll want to do another one. I’m already thinking about which of Cardiff’s escape rooms to visit  next – not to mention getting a group together to go to The Crystal Maze in London!

To book an escape room at Breakout Cardiff, visit Breakout also has escape rooms in Liverpool and Manchester, with different games to Breakout Cardiff.  The cost depends on how many people are taking part and when you want to visit (weekends and evenings are more expensive), and ranges from Β£12 to Β£18 per person.  

Breakout Cardiff
Unit 9a
The Brewery Quarter
Caroline Street
CF10 1FG
(029) 2037 1156 I was invited to Breakout Cardiff as a guest and we received a complimentary game; however, I was not obliged to write a positive review of my experience.



  1. September 10, 2016 / 7:02 pm

    Ooh now this does sound like a lot of fun, whilst I dont like the idea of being locked in anywhere, I am always up for a challenge x

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:26 pm

      Hehe, it is great fun. The time goes very quickly once you’re in there πŸ™‚

  2. September 10, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    This sound like such a cool concept. I would love to try this out – well providing I have guaranteed that I will be let out. I wonder if there is one in london.

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:22 pm

      Lol, yes you’re just in there for 60 mins with most of them. It’s good that they give you clues when you get stuck, otherwise it could get boring if you can’t solve one of the clues. It’s surprising how quickly the time passes once you’re in there.

  3. Christine Dodd
    September 10, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    FFor someone like me who is claustrophobic, this is a terrible idea! I’m sure lots of people love it though!

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:21 pm

      You can leave the room at anytime, they watch you on CCTV. If that helps πŸ™‚

  4. Hannah
    September 11, 2016 / 10:34 am

    This sounds cool but I don’t think it is for me lol

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:26 pm

      It’s not for everyone, it is fun though. A totally different experience to what I’m used to doing on weekends πŸ˜€

  5. September 11, 2016 / 8:47 pm

    A new one of these has just opened near me and I’ve been wondering whether or not to go. I could see myself getting distracted a lot or stressed out and panicky so I’m not so sure but they do sound like such a great idea and a great team building exercise!

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:21 pm

      Aww, if you feel uneasy at any time you can leave the room as they watch you on camera while you’re in there πŸ™‚ I bet you’d love it!

  6. Francesca
    September 12, 2016 / 9:37 am

    I actually really want to do this!!! I think it woukd be great and a lot of fun! I’ve heard loads of good things about it too!

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:20 pm

      It’s a great laugh! It’s best to do it with a group of friends or work colleagues. It is really fun, and mind-boggling at times too!

  7. Melissa major
    September 12, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    This sounds like a lot of fun, I’ve seen these before but never been as yet

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:19 pm

      They’re great fun – perfect for team building πŸ™‚

  8. September 12, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about these recently and they sounds like great fun. I’d be a little worried about getting panicky while I was in there. But the Crystal Maze one sounds fantastic – I loved that show, especially Richard O’Brien!

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:19 pm

      They watch you on CCTV while you’re in the room, so if you want to come out then you can πŸ™‚ I would love to do the Crystal Maze one!

  9. Jessica McDonnell
    September 12, 2016 / 8:40 pm

    I’ve heard so many great things about The Escape Rooms, I really need to try it for myself.

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:18 pm

      Yeah, there’s quite a few different escape rooms in Cardiff. I’d be keen to try out another one to see what it’s like.

  10. September 13, 2016 / 12:09 am

    Well it definitely sounds interesting. I think they were going to open one in London so might pop along.

    • September 13, 2016 / 11:17 pm

      I loved it, can’t wait to do another one!

  11. September 18, 2016 / 11:57 am

    Oh I’ve always fancied one of these! I have anxiety though so I think I might panic if I felt trapped! Maybe it’s a challenge I need to overcome the fear.

    • September 18, 2016 / 5:29 pm

      I see what you mean. They will let you out at anytime if you want to leave, they watch you through CCTV cameras πŸ™‚

  12. September 19, 2016 / 4:35 pm

    I’ve always wanted to do this but the escape rooms in London are so expensive!!

    • September 20, 2016 / 11:23 pm

      They’re kinda expensive here too, but worth it πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: