Owen turned the big 1-0 this year — a milestone birthday in our book — and we wanted to celebrate accordingly. Not in an MTV-Sweet-Sixteen kind of way, but with something unique, befitting a newly-minted tween with a penchant for adventure and his gang of like-minded friends.
(2018 Update: This location has closed.)
I was aware of The Escape Lounge, the relatively new H Street spot offering interactive escape experiences, where you solve a series of clues to make your way out of a locked room. In fact, we’d been meaning to try it out for some time, as they offer an Escape the Classroom adventure for kids along with Escape the Oval Office for adults. Owen, like me, loves mastering a good puzzle, so when I suggested The Escape Lounge for his birthday bash, he was in like Benedict Cumberbatch to the ultimate detective role.
The Escape Lounge is both appropriately located and named. Its inconspicuous entrance is a simple red door next to Shawafel. But once inside, a flight of stairs leads right up to a nice lounge space with comfy mod couches, an exposed brick wall decorated with instrument-inspired art, a chalkboard wall, and other neat touches that give it a relaxed, yet edgy vibe.
It was all set up when we arrived — they take care of that for you — and it looked fantastic. Three party tables were ready for guests. A food table was topped with pizzas, drinks, plates and utensils, plus jars stocked with treats for the kids. And a big “Happy Birthday, Owen!” greeted everyone on the chalkboard wall.
We started on the escape game right away, since it would take about hour of party time. Guests were split into two groups, which gives each person more opportunity to be part of the adventure and keeps the room from getting too crowded. Before entering the room, our host, Melody, explained how the game works, then she took the kids in and got them started on their first clue. After that, she exited the room, locking the door behind her. The group was left to their own wits and teamwork to get themselves out. And almost 30 minutes later, they emerged with big smiles and enthusiastic feedback about the experience.
The room was reset, then the second group took their turn. While each group was upstairs trying to make their way out, the rest of the kids had fun with activities downstairs in the lounge. The staff supplied them with a small craft activity, plus there was a box of props for dress-up fun, a few card and board games to play, music, and room for a dance party. The second group discovered a karaoke machine, and the kids got to make some of their own musical entertainment, too.
The escape game itself was a terrific adventure, challenging and fun as the kids had to make their way out of the room by figuring out a series of clues. Each one lead to the next and they were all very different, making the group think through each puzzle in new ways. (As you can probably tell, I don’t want to give too much away — the mystery is part of the fun!)
After the second group finished the adventure, again with lots of enthusiasm, we continued the celebration with pizza and cake and fun in the lounge. Melody and the staff were amazing — they did most of the serving and cleaning up and were generally very accommodating as the kids enjoyed all the activities in the lounge.
The best part: All of this made for one very happy 10-year-old.
The Escape Lounge offers everyday escape game adventures as well as parties and events for big groups. As mentioned, Escape the Classroom is designed for kids, and there’s an Escape the Oval Office for adults (plus a sports-themed game called Blowout coming soon) — both are $15/person. The Clue Party Package for kids is $475 and includes pizza, treats, drinks, and all party supplies for 12 kids and three adults. And a wide age range could enjoy it, I’d say about 7 and up. The owner, Ayanna, and our host, Melody, helped us plan Owen’s party, and both were great to work with.
The Escape Lounge is located at 1322B H Street NE. Hours are 11am – 9pm Wednesday – Saturday, and 11am – 6pm Sunday.