Date completed: June 2016 (4 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 7.5; Difficulty: 7; Atmosphere: 8.5; Fun: 8.5
- 3-7 players
“Yup, many people enter here thinking it is actually a hotel”, said Patricia, one of the owners of Escape Hotel in Sao Paulo. It is easy to see why people get confused: the venue’s entrance resembles a hotel façade and even has a space for drop-off and taxis. Once inside, players talk to the receptionist at a concierge who will take them to the escape room they booked. The entire waiting area looks like the lobby of a legit fancy hotel – except that you book the rooms here per hour, and not to sleep.
This first impression of Escape Hotel was very good and the smooth transition from a hotel lobby area to the escape room helped create the atmosphere for the room we booked: Crime Scene (“Cena do Crime” in Portuguese). We almost expected a bellboy to bring our luggage!
A person was murdered inside the hotel and the family hired you to investigate in parallel with the police. But you will only have access to the crime scene for one hour, so hurry up!
Vanessa, the “Reservations Manager” of the hotel, walked us to the room, while briefing us on the story. The game itself happened in a very convincing hotel room, replete with a bed, desk, closet and all the sort of items you would expect to find in this type of accommodation with the exception of the murder element – something we will hopefully never find in an actual hotel.
The light in the room was very dim and some people might take time to adjust. It took us a while to find the first physical elements to work with, but once the connections started to appear, the flow of the game was good.
The audio element also helped enhance the strong atmosphere of this escape room. Initially, the background audio effects simulated the inside of a hotel with a world outside. Later, at a significant part of the game with a major development, the background audio effects switched gears from hotel noise to suspenseful music with perfect timing.
This room can be played even by people who speak neither Portuguese nor English. The hints, which also do not require language, will come in a very old-fashioned method: delivered by letter!
Most puzzles in Crime Scene are of the association type. The game starts non-linear, allowing every member of a team to work. As the game advances, the tasks become more linear, however, you will need all your teammates searching for things and paying attention to detail. Our party of four needed one hint for this room and it was exactly for something we could not find! Remember to look all around you…
One puzzle was also particularly difficult to solve. However, once we internalised the idea that no puzzle in this room would require knowledge of any language to solve, we stopped going down unproductive rabbit holes.
We were also quite surprised with another puzzle with only two parts – and you would still need to think about it! We were so used to puzzles from other rooms which require players to collect lots of pieces to solve, that we took a while to work through the elegantly designed puzzle with minimal components – they also took some work to find!
Although Crime Scene featured elements we had seen previously in other escape rooms, this escape room had a number of amusing new ways to deploy old tricks. There was even a hint of forensics work at a certain point. Props in this escape room were in excellent condition and everything worked properly.
We played this room with my parents, who are now becoming escape artists themselves these days, and we all had a lot of fun. As we progressed through Crime Scene and found more elements about the crime, we began to understand more about the victim and the killer. The fact that we were made to feel like we were in a hotel room since entering the venue helped immensely to build the atmosphere.
We got out after discovering who the killer was and spotting other gruesome details. Having said that, the room is still family friendly. Escape Hotel welcomes anyone 8 years or older, but kids up to 11 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Once we solved the crime and escaped to the foyer, our hosts took our pictures, congratulated us on for the deed and brought us some free cold water (on a silver tray, as it should be in a fancy hotel)!
Out of the Room
Service: Vanessa and Patricia were amazing hosts that made their best to cater to our group of mixed Portuguese and English speakers. The reception area was very spacious and properly decorated as a hotel lobby. There are lockers for players belongings and water is free.
Players not from Brazil may have to email Escape Hotel to organise bookings, as direct online credit card payments are tied to the Brazilian National ID numbers (called CPF, which every Brazilian has). Also, it is nice to inform them beforehand if you wish to play in English.
Communication: In Escape Hotel, there is a limit of 4 hints per game, so explore all your options before you use them! In Crime Scene, you talk to the walls and the gamemaster will deliver the hint by letter.
Surroundings: Escape Hotel is 5 minutes from Faria Lima Subway Station, in the middles of one of the busiest commercial district of São Paulo. Right beside the venue, there is an enormous FNAC shop, where you can find books, electronics, appliances and music, and try the delicious “tricolor coffee” (made with sweet condensed milk) at Frans Café.
We were looking for a place to have lunch and the lovely owners of Escape Hotel recommended a restaurant called Gardenia, just around the corner. It was an amazing tip! The food was delicious, specially if you like meats, mixing many Brazilian typical ingredients, all explained in an English-written menu! Order the “Gardenia Potato” as a side for your dish, it’s great!