Search #escaperoom on Instagram and more than 1,650,200 posts come up.

On Google Trends the search term "escape room" had a huge increase in 2015 and since then searches for it have steadily increased.

This week a few people are likely to Googling the term in Stratford, possibly along with "help with" as an extra key phrase as they try to beat the clock in Stratford Library's Escape Room.

Created as part of the Stratford District Council School Holiday programme, the Escape Room is designed to challenge children aged 11 and over as well as adults.


Stratford Press reporters Alyssa Smith and Ilona Hanne had a sneak preview of the room, teaming up with some Stratford District Council employees to be the room's guinea pigs.

Our team of six meets in the office of the fictional Mr Thompkin the librarian, who, we are told, has not returned from his Caribbean holiday.

We have just 60 minutes to solve the clues he has left behind and work out where he is.

While all of us have heard about Escape Rooms, only one of us has actually been through one, so we aren't exactly the most skilled team to ever attempt an escape room. All we really know is that we have to solve a chain of interactive puzzles to escape the room.

We start well, one of us reading Mr Thompkin's letter out loud while the rest of us listen attentively, trying to spot the clues.

As we reach the end of the letter however, we also reach the end of our organised phase in this escape room attempt. All six of us scramble in different directions, each trying to find a clue. The good news is we find several, the bad news is our haphazard approach means we aren't too sure on the order of clues we are meant to be following.

Organisation isn't our only failing either. Patience appears to be a virtue none of our group have, with quick attempts made on possible solutions before they are ruled out for a bit before another team members tries again with success.

Despite this impatient, disorganised approach, we do manage to fumble our way through the clues (with a little bit of help) and slowly start working together better. As one or two methodically translate clues (that's a clue itself by the way), others carry on piecing the bigger picture together (yes, that's another clue too).


If a team is struggling, there are some extra clues they can ask for to help, and the puzzles are designed to be challenging, not impossible.

It is aimed at 11 years and over, and is a great way to keep minds and brains active these holidays.

The puzzles require a level of patience, lateral thinking and some solid teamwork, making it a great activity for a family or group of friends.

While it can be frustrating at times when the clues just don't seem to make sense, it is also rewarding when they do. Children might need a bit of gentle encouragement at times to keep going, and it is worth it to get to the end and pose for the obligatory, Instagram-worthy smug shot.

For our team, the knowledge groups of school children are going to be going through the escape room this week, and likely beating our time, was the incentive we needed to keep on going

We did manage to puzzle our way out of the room just in time, but we won't have been the fastest team to do it by any stretch.

To book your Escape Room slot, visit

It wasn't the fastest time ever, but the team did manage to solve the clues and escape.
It wasn't the fastest time ever, but the team did manage to solve the clues and escape.