Handmade Mysteries: Lady Chastity’s Reserve

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And here’s your host, Gabriel…

Outside the room

Lady Chastity’s Reserve is not something to be taken lightly. That much was obvious from the moment that I laid my eyes upon Gabriel across the bar. A stout man with a strong beard, this was not some run of the mill host, recruited from a student bar. No. This sir, was a bona fide actor. A man who knew how to make a game into a performance, an event into theatre and a story into a legend. No one has come even close to Gabriel in terms of setting the scene for an escape room. By the time I got into the room, I had goosebumps.

The room itself is hidden down the back of the Four Thieves’ Pub. Seems like an excellent idea to have an escape room in a bar – the waiting area is huge, with tables, a place you can buy a wide selection of drinks, and there’s no rush to leave afterwards. Plus you can put flyers out and get new blood into the escaping game. It’s a noisy bar, granted, so you may have to lean in close to hear each other, but then, if you’re going to play Lady Chastity’s Reserve, intimacy shouldn’t be an issue…

The briefing itself is given just behind the bar, in a dimly lit stairwell next to a battered and broken door that leads into the room itself. It’s a lavish and layered story, with more than a hint of innuendo, but Gabriel knew how to judge his audience – when one of us looked a little nervous, he toned it down slightly and immediately put them back at their ease.

Yes. This was going to be good.

Background

A long time ago, Lady Chastity was… ah wait. There’s no way I can do this as well as Gabriel did. There’s innuendo, intrigue and a lost bottle of wine. To quote their tagline – succeed and you’ll wet your whistle, fail and you’ll wet your pants…

I guess it’s worth making the point – this isn’t an escape room technically. Escape isn’t a goal. Getting the wine is.

Inside the room

If you’re looking for breadth of puzzles then you’ll be sorely disappointed. There’s the usual warm up puzzles to get you into the swing of it, and then they unleash the main event. It’s absolutely linear from start to finish, so I found myself struggling a bit with not being as involved as I’d have liked. That said, the linearity of the second half makes the whole thing much more fun, and you absolutely know how you’re doing. Well you would, if they actually gave you a clock in the room rather than a sand timer…

The room itself is probably the smallest that I’ve done, but they’ve gone to a lot of effort, and in some ways the tightness of the room ramps up the intimacy of the experience, and Lady Chastity’s Reserve is all about intimacy. The puzzles are nicely crafted, and rarely felt out of place, with a reasonable difficulty level. Indeed, whenever we did badly with a puzzle it was because we were being too clever…

We’d come with five people, and I feel that was a mistake. It worked, but I think three or four is the right number. Probably four, not because it makes the puzzles better, but because this is a game to be shared.

Gabriel was on hand throughout, to offer support and encouragement, and yes, the occasional clue. It was done very naturally, and didn’t intrude on the experience.

Result

We got to wet our whistle, with around ten minutes remaining (which was good, because I hadn’t brought a spare pair of pants). We were ridiculously slow with the easy opening puzzles, most likely because we were being too clever, and struggled with one of the later ones, but it never felt in doubt.

Verdict –

A thoroughly enjoyable experience, although hard core escapers will likely feel let down by the lack of challenge, and the linearity of the puzzles. The trick is to go into it expecting an experience rather than an escape room. I came out of the room rating it as average, but in the few days since, I’ve changed my mind and come to really treasure it. It’s not a “must do”, but I think it’s an important addition to any serious escaper’s experiences and a less geeky way of bringing in new people to the genre.

Eating

We decided against eating in the pub and went to an excellent Italian a few minutes’s walk away called Donna Margherita. Great food, although I wasn’t a fan of the spicy garlic bread – stick to the tomato garlic bread unless spiciness is your thing.

Detailed Room Ratings

Venue
Host
Wow! factor
Immersiveness
Difficulty

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