The Secret Hut – Don’t Get Locked In – Bedford

Present, in October 2020, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger

Okay, so this review will be a little biased, written under the influence of free alcohol. That joyous, dizzying feeling of being invincible, laughing at nothing, wanting to hug everyone, pleasant level of drunkenness – that’s the experience of absolutely smashing an enjoyable Escape Room. And then to be handed a bottle of booze for doing so? Well, if you insist.

This was our first, belated, visit to Don’t Get Locked In, Bedford. The company moved to new premises in the centre of the town just before the pandemic struck, so I’d been sitting on vouchers for them for months. But it was genuinely worth the wait.

For our room choice, having two teenagers studying 20th century history, it was a bit of a no-brainer to select the World War II-themed Secret Hut. Don’t Get Locked In’s original room, it takes the history of nearby Bletchley Park as a base, searching a code-breaker’s office to find documents which could stop the war.

It is just an office set, but it is accomplished very nicely, with authentic kit and furniture, and all the puzzles meld really well with that. A linear game, which we found to have perfect flow, the whole game was totally on our wavelength. The style is very traditional, as far as Escape Rooms go, which is in no way a bad thing – befitting to the theme, really – and executed in such a solid, satisfying way as to make me remember exactly why I fell in love with Escape Rooms in the first place.

The clue system is an appropriate old-time telephone, but we didn’t get to use it – which brings me to the matter of booze. Don’t Get Locked In have partnered with local business Wharf Distillery in Towcester and created a bespoke bottle of gin as prize for super-successful escapes (the distillery has also been involved in designing the venue’s Gin & Panic room). Rather than having a purely fastest-times leaderboard, they offer the Kudos Challenge, based on the number of clues taken. Zero to three clues wins you gold Kudos status, and also the Don’t Get Locked Gin. Such a cute idea, and a nice marketing incentive. In truth, in the room, everything flowed so sweetly and logically for our team we didn’t even think about taking a clue*, and were so wrapped up in the game I don’t think we realised until we emerged. Teenagers were strangely less excited than Granny and I about our prize, but they are still enthusiastic to return for some more games at this lovely company. *Edit: apparently the first team to achieve zero hints for this room! We’re quite often clueless, but not usually in a positive way…

COVID-stuff: masks used throughout, teams kept separated (there are rooms on two different floors), plenty of hand-sanitizer (alcohol-based, obviously), test-and-trace details taken. Can’t be faulted, and nor can the warmth and enthusiasm of our super GM, Denise, who made our evening by being equalled as thrilled by our escape as we were.

  • Storyline: Sensible and practical, no-frills, but followed through.
  • Theming and Set: Real effort gone into authenticity – not thrilling but a pleasant, absorbing space.
  • Searching: Yes, some.
  • Puzzles: Good variety, all fitting the theme.
  • Physicality: No, a gentle game, although steep stairs into venue. 
  • Scare factor: Zero, a very family-friendly room.
  • Company Age Guidance: “Children under 10 are not permitted to take part in the game. The recommended age due to the complexity of the puzzles is 12+.”
  • Age suitability: Personally, I think 8+ would be fine in here and could help out, with plenty of adult assistance and careful supervision so they don’t wreck the set. I think the company are happy to accommodate this age group with a little bit of advance notice.

Don’t Get Locked In