North London Food & Culture

Mission Breakout: immersive escapes from South Kentish Town ghost station

After a year stuck on our sofas, what could be better than IRL entertainment with your mates at Kentish Town's only escape room?

Did you know that London’s most thrilling subterranean escape room is located right here on our doorstep? Occupying South Kentish Town’s historic ghost station, on the lower stretches of Kentish Town Road, is the ingenious Mission Breakout.

You’ll already be familiar with the former station building’s exterior, with its burnished glazed tiling; but deep under street level, the many original passenger tunnels, lift shafts and dusty platforms remain.

Some history first? Although South Kentish Town tube (on what’s now the Northern Line) opened in 1907, it shut down a mere 17 years later through lack of use, never re-opening after a strike at the local power station in 1924. In the Second World War, it was used as an air-raid shelter during the Blitz.

It goes without saying that its atmospheric environs make the perfect setting for an escape room. An experience like no other, Mission Breakout is as immersive as any cutting-edge theatre production, with its high quality sets, props, detailing and production values. Minus the actors, of course: after all, that’s where you come in.


“Instead of sitting and staring at a screen, here you can get up, move around, get your heart racing, and reduce your stress levels,” says Mission Breakout’s David Prebiski. “There are few better activities than experiencing something new, exciting and challenging – and then coming out on the other side with that fantastic sense of accomplishment.”

If you’ve experienced a sense of deja vu in the last 12 months, this might just ring a bell. “Escape rooms combine all these elements in a new, fun activity that you’ll be talking about for a long time to come,” he says. “They’re fun for all ages: everyone can get involved and play a part. Teamwork is essential to success, so they help improve your communication skills while under pressure.

“It will also help sharpen your attention to detail,” he says. “You never know what tiny little clue might be hiding in the most ordinary-looking object. Instead of glossing over unimportant looking things, you’ll have to take another, deeper look if you want to win. Escape rooms are a playful way to engage with your friends, family or team, and even improve relationships.”

What’s more, after a never-ending year stuck on our sofas, isn’t any unique IRL entertainment, surrounded by our mates or family, an absolute must in 2021?

So how exactly does it work?

Mission Breakout
60 minutes to escape. Photo: PR

There are two unique game rooms. Each is filled with mysterious clues, challenging puzzles, and crazy machines. With just 60 minutes to find clues, solve puzzles or crack the code and escape, each member of the team has to use their determination and ingenuity to beat the clock in time.

Teamwork, ingenuity, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking: all this and more is needed to help you and your (up to five) friends escape in time.

1. The Lost Passenger

The latest game has at its heart a story by railway-loving writer and poet laureate John Betjeman (immortalised in statue form in nearby St Pancras International). Broadcast on the BBC Home Service in 1951, it was based on a true incident when a man accidentally alighted from a train at South Kentish Town shortly after its permanent closure.

The terrifying possibilities of being stranded in an abandoned ghost station captured Betjeman’s imagination: no-one knows if the poor bloke ever escaped – and rumours of ghostly presences trapped inside its tunnels linger on.

Are you brave enough to step down into the ghost tube station and investigate the paranormal activity? Only the most fearless will make it out on time.

2. Codebreakers

Mission breakout
Crack the code! Photo: PR

The second game is Codebreakers, which shifts the focus away from the station’s history and is instead a World War Two game focused on decoding secret messages sent between the Nazis.

Guests are thrust into a subterranean bunker – and you’ll have instructions from Churchill himself as you try and escape.

Roadtesting this game when it opened, the Kentishtowner verdict was simple: “an incredibly fun hour,” we declared, exiting with “a smile on our face” (read the full review here).

For more info and to book one of the above games (at £28 per person) head straight to Mission Breakout’s website here. To get your exclusive 20% off reader discount enter the code KENTISHTOWNER20 – only valid until 31st May. Follow @missionbreakout on social.

If you’re concerned about COVID-19 health and safety measures, Mission Breakout promises to deliver the best experience possible while ensuring that the appropriate Covid-19 measures are in place. The game rooms are private, and you will not be joined by any other players.

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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.