I’m always on the lookout for fun and exciting things to do in London, especially if they involve an escape room. Imagine my excitement, then, when I found out about a Timeout and Disney collaboration that included a clueQuest mini game. The House of Time and Wonder took over a four storey townhouse in Shoreditch to help promote the new Alice Through the Looking Glass film and promised ninety minutes of curiosity, discovery and, of course, escapism!
The house itself was a wonderful higgledy piggledy place with staircases, trapdoors, hidden spaces and a general feeling of unmaintained oldness that meshed well with the Alice theme. The only problem was that it was packed with people when we arrived, so moving around was slow and enjoying the experiences was tricky. After a brief visit to play croquet (more later), we headed over to clueQuest’s escape game to see what it was all about.
Fortunately, I’d been warned that the exclusive collaboration was based on the game we’d played at Licence to Escape a few months earlier. Even more fortunately, the part of that game that I’d been heavily involved with had been revamped so, more-or-less, it was a new game to me. Yay. The changes they’d put in also meant the time had been extended to eight minutes. It’s not a huge increase, but it’s enough to make you feel like you’re not rushing the whole while and you can start to enjoy it. Our three team mates were all friendly and had a similar engaged-but-not-overbearing attitude to the people we usually play with, which helped immensely in making it a relaxed and fun experience. All too soon, we’d completed the game and, a few high fives later, we were walking out the door to explore some more.
Upstairs was a photo opportunity where you could get dressed up in wigs and hats before having your photo taken on the Queen’s bed, then it was downstairs to the bar to collect your free drink and sit and chat surrounded by the huge clocks that pervaded the house. This was a genius move because, by the time we reappeared, the house was only half as full and, suddenly, moving round was easy and queues non-existent. We headed up to the top to make an origami butterfly while being regaled with jokes (“My mother’s always nagging me. Yesterday she told me to stop acting like a flamingo. I had to put my foot down”). Speaking of flamingos, we went back to play the flamingo croquet, which was a lot of fun when you weren’t constantly hitting other players. Finally, as time started to run out (I’m late, I’m late!) we headed to the video booth where you could have your face overlaid with characters from the film to good effect. As the clock struck ten, we finished off the last remaining experience just in time to be ushered out the door.
To be honest, at £20 per person, I felt the tickets were a bit overpriced, especially since it was an advertisement for a film. There was a fair amount to get done (a couple of craft activities, a couple of photo opportunities, clueQuest’s game and the flamingo croquet, plus just wandering round the house) but, if we hadn’t been in the final slot, we would have had to queue for many of the activities, which would have taken the edge off of it. Certainly, on arrival I found it a little bit frustrating but, as I got more used to the surreal nature of it and the crowds started to thin, I got into the swing of things and, by the end, I came out having very much enjoyed the experience.
Full disclosure: We weren’t charged for these tickets. That doesn’t influence the review – you can read more on the About page.