Escape rooms are cool and all, but they can start to feel a bit monotonous. Not content with the idea of escaping a single room, one interactive theater group is taking the concept to a whole new level — one inspired by a real-life house of horrors.
London’s newly opened The Hollow Hotel is an escape room on steroids. It’s the first concept of its kind, and it breaks all the confines — literally and figuratively — of a traditional escape room. Visitors are instead able to explore multiple floors of an entire mock hotel. And, because every good escape room offers a twist, The Hollow Hotel is no ordinary hotel. It’s based on the real-life “Murder Castle” of H.H. Holmes, one of America’s most notorious serial killers.
In the late 1800s, Holmes confessed to killing 28 people, though it’s believed his death toll ranked closer to 200. Before the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he moved to the city’s suburbs and built a three-story hotel. While the property’s details remained a mystery for years, it was later revealed to house more than 100 intricate living quarters. Most were outfitted with peepholes, trap doors, and stairways leading to nowhere. It was designed to confuse, delude, and ultimately kill those who stayed there. Throughout the hotel were chutes leading to the basement where Holmes would perform unspeakable acts of horror on his victims.
With that in mind, the hook for The Hollow Hotel is that the property was forced to close amid unexpected and unexplained circumstances. Visitors to the experience arrive under the guise of being guests to the hotel’s grand re-opening. After a brief cocktail ceremony, all are ushered to their own rooms, where the story begins to unfold.
According to British-based creator differencEngine, “After its unexpected closure, The Hollow Hotel invites you to its grand re-opening. But if you listen to the whispers in its winding corridors, you might lose yourself as each turn entices you to delve further in; until you can’t turn back. Journey through a maze of hidden passageways that will either lay you to rest, or lead you further into the hotels’ dark heart.”
The “hotel” is full of actors who are integral to the theatrical story, and with whom guests can directly interact. It’s those interactions that dictate how the entire story develops. The hotel’s creators note seven distinct story tracks, so it’s possible to visit several times with different unique experiences. The house of horrors aims to be more cerebral than your typical Halloween scare house. Expect plenty of jump scares, but it’s less about gore and shock value than psychological horror and raw fear.
The Hollow Hotel is now open. Non-refundable tickets can be purchased through the hotel’s official website. Prices start at $65 and each room “sleeps” between two to six guests. It’s only slated to run through June 17, 2018. But differencEngine’s last project, Heist, was so wildly successful that its planned three-week run was extended to nine months because visitors couldn’t get enough.