CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
“Then she locked us in the room and the timer started ticking. We had 60 minutes to escape.”
Does this sound like the beginning of your worst nightmare? Maybe the plot to the next terror movie being released on Halloween? Not for us! We willingly paid for this to happen to us and have been talking about how much fun we had for weeks.
Escape rooms are popping up all over the world. It’s a trend that started in Asia, has worked it’s way to Europe and is now catching on in America as well. The concept is pretty simple. You and your team are locked in a room for a set amount of time – usually 60 minutes – inside the room is a series of puzzles and clues leading to your freedom. If you can solve the puzzle using logic and teamwork, you win! If not, do not fear, you will still be let out after the timer runs out.
My friends tried it with their family of six in Amsterdam. They escaped with a minute to spare from the Traveler’s Suite in Amsterdam’s Room of Riddles. They said it was so much fun to watch how their kids (aged 8-15) each tackled problem solving and working under pressure.
Then, another family of five tried to escape from Budapest. They made it out of “Claustrophilia” with little time to spare but thoroughly enjoying the experience.
We decided that we needed to give it a try too. My sister-in-law and her husband were coming for a EuroTrip so we decided to spice things up a bit. In addition to castles, cathedrals, and museums, we decided to add a few escape rooms to the itinerary.
First we tried Exit Games Stuttgart (stay tuned to Germany Ja for more about that) and then we moved on to Vienna’s RoomEscape.
RoomEscape Wein has three choices of rooms with different themes. You will find that most of the companies offer different themes. Sometimes they offer different difficulty levels depending on your choice. The choices here were Cold War Bunker, Prison or The Bank.
In order to play you have to reserve a time slot. This is generally done online. Most companies will not allow walk-ins. We booked the Bank room for four adults on their website.
Pay close attention to the address and any information they give about the location. Many of these locations are set up in an unobtrusive spot that you could walk by five times without finding. RoomEscape Vienna is located in the basement level of a walk-up apartment near the university. Other than the small logo on the doorbell, we wouldn’t have known we were in the right place.
You will need to arrive early. If you are booked for a 60 minute reservation (that seems to be the typical time) plan on arriving at least 10-15 minutes early for your briefing. Expect that the whole experience will last around 90 minutes.
Different companies have different price points. For the RoomEscape we paid €78.00 for four people. The price for 2-3 people is €68.00 and for 5 people the price is €88.00. RoomEscape limits it from 2-5. If you have six or more, they suggest breaking into two groups. The rooms are not that big and six people may have felt the squeeze.
Once we arrived downstairs we were seated in a small waiting room. A friendly host reminded us that we would be locked in a room for 60 minutes so those who would like to use the bathroom are encouraged to do so now! Our host spoke English and the room was geared for English speakers as well.
Dress comfortably, but you won’t need to get down and dirty! Our host told us that no obstacle should take more strength than a four year old child has. You don’t need to move furniture or break down walls!
Then our host set the scene, we were all accomplices of Mr. Pig and we had been sent to rob the Vienna Bank. Inside the vault were diamonds along with a stash of cash and we had cracked the alarm… but only for sixty minutes! Then she locked us in the room and the timer started ticking. We had 60 minutes to escape with the loot!
The race was on! We found ourselves in the customer part of the bank and our escape room was really three rooms. We had to break into the bank teller section and then the vault. But once in the vault there were still five consecutive safes to open.
I won’t give away any of the clues so that you can enjoy it yourself, but we had to use our knowledge of geography, numismatics, code solving, and logic to work as a team and solve the puzzles. There were many combination locks, each with their own clues spread through the rooms.
If and when we got stuck sometimes clues would almost literally fall from the sky. There was a slot in the door and postcard-sized clues were delivered sporadically. Our host was watching from cameras and would steer us in the right direction if she thought we were getting too lost.
In the end we were successful! With about five minutes to spare we cracked the final code on the final vault and were rewarded with a bag of jewels and Euro. We also got a visit from our boss hog – Mr. Pig! After doing the happy dance we were told to take a good look at the Euro – they were foil-covered chocolates for us to take home.
Our host rehashed our dastardly deed and showed us where we went right and where we went wrong. One clue we ended up guessing, so she showed us how we could have found the answer in the room. She asked for our permission and took a photo of us with the winners loot. She offered that if we tagged ourselves in the photo on Facebook we could receive a percentage off our next visit.
Later, after the thrill of victory has ebbed slightly we wondered if everyone wins and escapes the EscapeRoom. I looked it up on Trip Advisor and found that, in fact, not everyone does. It didn’t seem to affect the players feelings about their experience and currently EscapeRoom is the number one activity in all of Vienna!
Tips for Your Trip:
Wien, A – 1090
RoomEscape is a chain with branches throughout Europe, but also in North America, Central America, and Asia. Our host told us that the Bank, Bunker and Prison are popular rooms in all locations. She said that very little about these rooms change from location to location.
Price for 60 minutes:
2-3 players: €68.00
4 players: €78.00
5 players: €88.00
You can pay online with credit card or PayPal, or pay in person with cash only.
Although there is no age restriction, RoomEscape recommends it for players 14 and older but will allow younger players if there are older players to assist. All four of us thought this was the tougher of the two rooms we played. Kids would still have fun, but this was a challenge!