Atherton Escape Rooms: The Missing Child


Outside the room

Atherton? Hands up then: who’s heard of Atherton? I grew up half an hour away from the town, and I was only vaguely aware of its existence and had certainly never been there. One thing I was certain of: I didn’t expect to see it opening an escape room, let alone four rooms, so it was a bit of a shock when Really Fun pointed it out. Atherton Escape Rooms has no Twitter feed (correction: it does), it’s not on TripAdvisor and even its own Facebook page ranked higher in Google than its website. To say it’s not well advertised is an understatement.

Critically, though, it’s the closest venue to my parents’ house, so it was almost inevitable that I’d pay them a visit on my next trip up. Their booking calendar was relatively open, so I decided to take a risk when we were passing by and just turn up at the door for a last-minute appointment. That proved to be a bit of a mistake as they don’t always turn up for the early slots unless they’ve got bookings. No matter: we headed into town for lunch and then called them up a little later to book our appointment for “the Missing Child”.

Both on the phone and in person they were very friendly, greeting us warmly when we arrived and happy to chat about the rooms before and after. This is a family-run business, set up after a trip to Poland saw them playing a couple of escape rooms that they really enjoyed. I wouldn’t quite describe them as enthusiasts – I didn’t get the feeling they’ve played a lot of rooms, just that they’d really enjoyed what they’d seen and thought it could work in Atherton.


A child’s gone missing and you’re trying to track down who’s got them, which will allow you to escape the room. This is billed as one of their easier rooms.

Inside the room

I’ve not played many escape games that are based in a child’s bedroom, but my big worry would always be that they’d go and pick up some tatty children’s toys, books and clothing from a local charity. Worse still, they could get *a lot* of it and fill the room with red herrings. I was pleasantly surprised to see that everything we came across was in good condition and gave the impression of a tidy but sparse (in a good way!) children’s bedroom. I can only imagine they’ve never been in a real child’s bedroom then ;-).

The Atherton room philosophy is very much coming from online ‘escape the room’ games, where you’re trawling the room for codes with less of an emphasis on why the codes would be there or developing a story, so it was quickly down to business ransacking the room for clues. The clues were generally straight padlock connections, so not amazingly exciting, but they’d at least come up with a couple of novel ways of integrating the puzzle into the room, which could be quite fun, particularly for less experienced players.

As they mention in their briefings, there’s information you collect along the way which is important, and I liked the way that added a bit of intrigue to the game. We quickly worked out what that was likely to be, but it was still fun to be building up clues safe in the knowledge that we’d eventually be presented with a way of using them. The puzzle mechanic showed a nice bit of on-theme innovation.

All the puzzles were solvable without help, and on the one puzzle where we got stuck it was because we’d ignored something that had grated with us both, so I can’t complain. The clue we did get was nicely obscure – pleasingly, they don’t just give you the answer when you ask for some help.


We got out with 13 minutes remaining and a single clue, but don’t read too much into that because we got stuck on a single puzzle for over fifteen minutes. We knew we were close so desperately didn’t want to ask for help when we had plenty of time (indeed, we refused when they asked if we wanted a clue!) – but eventually we decided we were truly stuck and raised the clue request sheet of shame to the camera.

Verdict –

This isn’t an exciting game, and it’s not a difficult game, but what it does do, it does reasonably well. The hosts are friendly, the story’s a bit weak but acceptable, the puzzles aren’t really on theme, although they make use of appropriate props and, importantly, they are all solvable without a clue.

I wouldn’t recommend this game for enthusiasts, but I think it’s good enough for novices and, if you’re in desperate need of an escape game, I don’t think you’ll find much here that’s truly frustrating.


Most of the interesting looking restaurants in Atherton seemed to be closed at lunchtime but, just as we were about to resign ourselves to a sandwich shop, we chanced upon The Pendle Witch down a little side street. I’m a huge fan of any restaurant that’s hard to find because it suggests it manages to survive without passing trade. It didn’t let me down – it’s a pub that does good, homemade food with seemingly a changing theme. When we went, there was a Flemish influence with beers to match.

Don’t take my word for it 

Brit of an escape habit visited in June and posted this review.

Detailed Room Ratings

Wow! factor


  1. // Reply

    Whilst appreciating your comments I find it insulting to the town of Atherton that you feel good to comment in this way, as you have ascertained you had never heard of it. No we are not London & so can not or wish to be part of the city. What we are is a small town trying to give a little more leisure to others,No we don’t have the big Franchise money & we also hold full time jobs whilst trying to get this fledgling business going. So you may want to think how your condescending comments may affect us. We was however as with all our customers happy to meet you, we have no staff at the moment so are trying to hold down our jobs side by side of running this, I have to wonder why you feel in such a high position that your comments could affect our business without feeling any emotion. Thankyou ,however for sharing all you have with complete negativity God forbid that any one should get on in life.

  2. // Reply

    Oh & I would like to add we do have a twitter feed & our face book page has a rating of 4.9 Yours is the only comment on tripAdvisor so no we have not yet reached the giddy heights of tripadvisor am I thankful? hmm not sure as I stated we are a small business in a small town which after doing one room you returned to do another of which you didn’t escape………..

  3. // Reply

    I’m truly sorry you feel that way. I didn’t mean to be condescending. I’m not entirely sure why it’s unacceptable to critique an escape game because you’d not heard of the town it was in. If you thought I was criticising the town itself then you’re very much mistaken – I was making a comment that it was relatively small and so it was surprising that it had an escape room business. Towns with under ten thousand people usually don’t – closer to a hundred thousand is the norm.

    As I said above – the game is good enough for novices. I think they’ll enjoy it, but I think people who’ve played a few games will be disappointed. My blog is intended to help escape room enthusiasts make decision about which rooms to play. While I’d love to help every family run business do well, you also have to understand that playing an escape room is expensive and people understandably don’t want to risk their money on an unknown quantity. I describe the rooms I play as I see them, and when I do give a negative review I usually look round for reviews from other enthusiasts and link to them if I find they disagree with my take. Do I feel guilty about the effect it could have on the business? Yes, but I’d also feel guilty about people attending rooms and being disappointed.

    While I’m very happy that your customers award you five stars on Facebook, I also know that most people rate their first escape games as five stars on review platforms. The whole reason behind this blog is to allow people to get a view on rooms from someone who’s played enough that they’re rating individual rooms and not the concept of escape games.

    Thanks for pointing out my error with the Twitter feed. At the time of writing I couldn’t find one. I’ll correct that mistake in the article.

    Finally, and not that it really matters, yes I returned to play another game. I found your easy game easy, so I decided to try your hard game. Is that such a crime? There are few companies that I wouldn’t give a second chance to. Indeed, I might have returned a third time (although I realise that’s off the cards now) – there aren’t many rooms that I can book at short notice that are convenient for my visits to the local area. As for not escaping – you’re obviously confusing me with someone else, as we very much did escape. I’m not entirely sure why you think I’d lie about that – I’ve admitted to several other failures in rooms, so this one wouldn’t make any difference to me. Feel free to think what you like though.

  4. // Reply

    Angela – Not sure you’ll ever read this but I feel inclined to comment. While the review didn’t massively excite me about your room, it didn’t specifically put me off visiting you either. Your reaction has. So that’s four plays of your games lost, plus any potential mentions/recommendations I may have made to my friends. Perhaps you want to think about how your own comments are affecting your business.

  5. // Reply

    Just been to the Atherton Escape Rooms -had a wonderful experience and will certainly been visiting again -keep up the good work!Anybody who has the time and inclination to write such a long and negative review is always beyond me.Sometimes people exaggerate their own importance by their negativity.

    1. // Reply

      I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m not quite sure how I’d exaggerate my own importance by writing a negative review but it most certainly wasn’t my intention. If you look across the 100 or so reviews I’ve written you’ll find that the vast majority of them are positive – so I obviously don’t feel the need to exaggerate my importance very often.

      I describe the rooms as I experience them. People spend their hard earned cash on these rooms, so I think it’s important that they can get an opinion from someone who’s played a lot of rooms if they want. If they don’t want that, then they don’t need to read my blog.

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