Some people jump out of planes or bungee jump from tall bridges to feel alive. Others have to race motorbikes at high speed to feel that buzz of adrenalin, or maybe they cheat on their wives or accidentally gamble away the kids’ college fund at a Las Vegas blackjack table.
Our family is way cooler (and more wholesome) than that. We get our kicks from solving puzzles. We get a thrill out of cracking a particularly tricksy code, or unscrambling an anagram, ideally with the added buzz of having someone at the end to tell us how clever we are. In fact I love it so much that one of the items on my 50 things before 50 list is to complete 100 escape rooms.
A dream day out for my family isn’t track racing and high stakes poker, it’s a morning stroll along the seafront, brunch with a nicely cooked poached egg and getting locked in a room full of puzzles. Which is exactly what I did for my birthday this week. We even rammed the poached egg point home by going to a café called Oeuf. (Very nice, would recommend, definitely get a latte.)
The escape rooms I chose to celebrate my birthday with were two of the rooms at Pier Pressure Escape Rooms in Brighton – Modropehnia and Loot The Lanes – both amongst the most highly rated escape rooms in the UK. In fact, Loot The Lanes is currently THE top room. Needless to say, expectations were high.
We started with Modrophenia, a 1960s themed mods and rockers murder mystery, and immediately loved the whole set up. How could you not love a room that has a vintage pinball machine AND a 60s Vespa right in the middle of it?
I loved that our room host was 100% in character, complete with costume and cockney accent, and went out of his way to set the scene for us. This immediately gave the room a sense of story, and we knew exactly what we were going in there to do. Some escape rooms can feel a bit like you’ve just been locked in a room full of padlocks, with no real narrative, but this was definitely not the case at Pier Pressure.
All of the puzzles were just the right level of challenging, so while there wasn’t anything that had us stuck for ages, they were difficult enough to make you feel satisfied once you figured them out. We had a little bit of confusion over whether or not we’d messed up the pinball machine by losing the ball in it, but our host quickly came to our rescue via the 1960s vintage telephone that served as our communication with the outside world.
Our second room, Loot The Lanes, involved being led down the road and into a café basement by a different host, this time a woman wearing a top hat and carrying a cane. She was just as fun as our first host, and helped to get us in the mood for our diamond heist.
The set of Loot The Lanes is stunning – a full on mock up of a cobbled shopping street, complete with individual shops that you have to break into and a full sized phone box, which is how you get clues should you need them.
Your task in Loot The Lanes is to steal a huge diamond before the baddies can get it, and again there was a strong and clear narrative that helped to drive the game forward with cohesion and purpose. One of my favourite things about doing escape rooms is that you get to spend a whole hour thinking of nothing else. The best rooms are so immersive that you are completely taken out of real life and absorbed in your mission.
Loot The Lanes was one of these rooms.
The attention to detail was spot on, and each puzzle followed logically from the next, helping to create that exhilarating state of flow. The thought and time that has gone into the rooms at Pier Pressure is hugely impressive and there was literally nothing that we could think of that could be improved. (I can normally find something to be critical about so this was a big deal.)
With both rooms we had great feedback from our hosts after escaping. As a family we are very praise orientated and having someone tell you how well you did is a not small part of the thrill of escape rooms. Our hosts heaped on the praise, complimented us on our communication as a team and pointed out puzzles we’d solved particularly well. We even had achievement stamps on our time card, which was a nice touch.
Our favourite thing about both the rooms we did at Pier Pressure was how right everything felt. The puzzles were by no means easy, but they flowed perfectly, so it was simply a matter or working through them logically. I’ve been in other rooms where we’ve been stuck on a puzzle for ages, and even once we’ve been given a clue we’ve thought ‘well that’s silly, we would never have got that.’
There were no moments like that at Pier Pressure – everything fitted together perfectly, leaving us feeling incredibly satisfied and also a nice amount of smug at how well it felt like we’d done. It was like I’d created the puzzles myself, then wiped my own memory so that I could enjoy an escape room exactly in tune with my own brain.
If you’re ever near Brighton and get your jollies from a good puzzle then we heartily recommend Pier Pressure.
We were gifted these experiences in exchange for this review but all opinions are my own. We played both rooms as an experienced team of three and got out Modrophenia in 38 minutes and 55 seconds and Loot The Lanes in 35 minutes and 23 seconds.