Escape rooms are increasingly popular in the Netherlands. They’re fun, exciting, and harder to solve than some highly educated people like to admit.
Hidden in between some houses in central Amsterdam, Claustrophobia is marked out to visitors only by the presence of an ordinary blackboard, standing in front of the Escape Room. ‘Step inside for an adventure,’ the board reads in curly letters.
Inside, the committee members of Integrand, a student organisation that matches interns to companies, are sitting on bright green beanbags. They eagerly help themselves to cookies and lollypops, spread out on a big tray in front of them. One week from now, these students will be officially established as the new committee of Integrand – a task they will carry out fulltime for the duration of the year. But before all their time is dedicated to financial estimates, records of proceedings and corporate clients, there is still time for some team fun.
An enthusiastic, petite girl in sneakers and ripped trousers gives the team a short explanation of the game they’re about to engage in. Her name is Tess and she works for Claustrophobia. The students will be locked away in a bedroom that belongs to a 7-year old girl named Matilda, she tells them. They have one hour to get out by solving all kinds of riddles and puzzles. If they don’t succeed, Matilda won’t wake up and will be trapped in her nightmare forever. ‘The most important thing is to work together. Tell each other everything you see and find,’ Tess advises. ‘Also: use your creativity and imagination. And think outside the box.’