Escape Hotel: A Loira do Banheiro [Review]

logo-escapehotelLocation: Escape Hotel, Pinheiros district, São Paulo (SP), Brazil

Date completed: June 2016 (4 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 6.5; Difficulty: 6; Atmosphere: 9; Fun: 8

Requirements:

  • 3-7 players
  • Fluent Portuguese (English version available in August 2016)

Many cultures have a version of the Bloody Mary urban legend. You know how it goes: Kids like to scare themselves and dare each other to stay in a dimly lit room / bathroom, stare into the mirror, call out the name of a ghost and wait for it to appear. In Brazil, this tradition has gone through several alterations to become The Blonde in the Bathroom (A Loira Do Banheiro in Portuguese). The principles are largely the same as willing participants have to perform specific actions to invoke the presence of a school girl who died in the school bathrooms.

In this creation from Escape Hotel, players have one hour to investigate the case of a missing high school student. Sure enough there were stranger things afoot, however, I sure didn’t expect the scares that came from The Blonde in the Bathroom!

To begin with, Escape Hotel’s main strength, the use of atmosphere and ambiance, was once again on display when we played The Blonde in the Bathroom. Set initially inside a convincing high school locker room, this game focused on the mysterious disappearance of a teenager through melodramatic trysts played out wonderfully through items one would expect to find in such an environment. Journals, gossiping graffiti, very personal items, textbooks…. It reminded me of a Scooby Doo adventure up until the room turned rather dark very rapidly part way through the game.

Once the escalation occurred, Escape Hotel used creative setting, technology and background sound effects to fully generate the supernatural ambience and scares which actually made us question whether we had seen….. something…. from the corner of our eyes. The ability to provide scares really takes off. The subtle scares then turned into evident yelling moments and, by the end, some of us were on the edge – every little click was making us jump.

Being able to ‘talk to the walls’ with our gamemaster, who responded in a somewhat creepy girl’s voice, was also very much in keeping with this setting and intensified the atmosphere. For my (Trapspringer’s) benefit, she communicated to our team in English as I was the only one who could not speak the local language properly. Although the written material in the game was all in Portuguese at the time we played the game, Escape Hotel have informed us that in August 2016, they were adapting it into English.

loira-banheiroThis mystery and puzzles in The Blonde in the Bathroom are very much based around associative thinking and correlation. A straightforward approach will be the best way to tackle this one as we actually became stuck from overthinking the elements of this room. Deconstructed, the puzzle path very direct and is perfect for 4 player teams. Although the difficulty for this room was by no means hard, The Blonde in the Bathroom did incorporate props from the setting very well into the puzzles. This is actually a pretty good room for beginners of escape rooms, however we would not recommend it to groups with young  children or people with heart conditions.

It was very satisfying to play The Blonde in the Bathroom after Cena do Crime (Crime Scene) and O Templo (The Temple) especially given how little we had heard of Escape Hotel until that point – it was a very pleasant surprise. After we finished the game, we had a long chat with the friendly owners Patricia and Vanessa about the escape room industry and their enthusiasm showed. They initially considered opening a venue from a franchise but opted instead to take their own creative direction, drawing from their previous expertise in cinematography, business and marketing. We were very glad they did, as Escape Hotel was a very immersive experience.

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 The Blonde in the Bathroom, you talk to the walls and they will answer in return!

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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.

If you are a fan of cosmetics and nail polishes like Pá, look for a store called Sumirê in Teodoro Sampaio street. They sell the best Brazilian polish brands (such as Risqué and Impala) extremely cheap – sometimes less than a dollar per bottle. Keep an eye open for other good deals in local cosmetic products as well.

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!

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