With only 10 seconds remaining on the clock, we didn’t know if we would make it out in time. Frantically, the four of us were trying to solve the final task that would ensure our escape. For almost an hour, we’d been locked in a small Asian room in the basement of a building near London’s Euston station. Why did we come here? What were we thinking bringing our daughters to a street that offers both table dances and gender re-assignment services?!
We had come to experience London’s #1 tourist attraction:
“What?” you must be thinking, “You mean the #1 attraction in London is NOT the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, or even the Harry Potter studio?” That is correct.
About two weeks prior to departing on our round-the-world journey, I decided to see what TripAdvisor (my go-to travel resource), recommended that we do while in London. We knew about all of London’s icons mentioned above, I just wanted to see if there was anything unique that sounded interesting. My curiosity piqued when I saw that Hint Hunt occupied the top rung of the tourist attraction ladder.
A quick visit to their website revealed basically three things:
- They give very little detail about what you actually do,
- At ~$150 for the four of us, it is not cheap, and
- They had one opening for the entire week we were in London.
I booked it.
When our big day arrived, we took the tube to Euston and made our way down Eversholt street. We found the nondescript storefront and went inside. Although we were relieved that neither table dances nor sex-change services were being offered, it was an eerily bare lobby. No signage, no counter, no brochures. Just four chairs and a small bathroom. We were promptly greeted by Tibi, our Hint Host, who welcomed us and began explaining exactly what we had paid a lot of Pounds to do.
The rules were pretty simple:
- We would be locked in a tiny room.
- Anything and everything in the room could be a clue to our escape (or just a red herring).
- The only way out of the room was through brain power, no muscle power needed.
- He would be outside the room watching us on cameras.
- At the sound of a chime, a hint (usually obscure) would be displayed on the screen.
- A TV monitor mounted to the wall displayed the countdown, beginning at 60:00 minutes.
Enough with the orientation, it was time to begin. We followed Tibi around the building to the basement; he took us into the Zen room and explained a few additional items; he wished us luck; locked us in the room and departed. At the sound of the door latching shut, the four of us scattered like cockroaches in a spotlight. For the next hour we felt like Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brien racing the clock to stop a major terrorist attack or nuclear meltdown. It was as if the future of humanity depended on our ability to make it out in time.
As the time ticked down, we did our best to decipher the complex series of clues, locks, hidden codes, and more. Thanks to the timely hints given by Tibi we made it out with just 00:04 seconds left on the clock. You would have thought we’d won the lottery when the red lights circling the door lit up and we escaped.
Although Hint Hunt has no historical significance whatsoever, it was, hands down, the highlight of our week in London. If you get a rush solving complex puzzles and have a competitive streak, this just might be for you.
There are two types of rooms: John Munroe and Zen. The John Munroe room has a 50% success rate while only 40% of Zen room hostages make it out in time. The lucky ones that do make it out usually do so in the last few seconds.
Currently, there are three Hint Hunt locations worldwide: London, Paris, and South Africa.