Escape to the Escape Hotel
August 1, 2016
Just down the street from Musso and Frank Grill in the heart of Hollywood, there’s a new hotel that won’t be providing chocolate mints on guest pillows. It’s the Escape Hotel, the largest escape room game in the U.S., with ten escape rooms and a comfortable café. From Zombie to Mafia to Witchcraft to channeling guests’ inner spy in the Agent room, there’s a wide variety of escape fantasies waiting from the moment guests leave Hollywood Boulevard and enter the impressively ominous hotel lobby.
Ivan Leon, co- creator and co-owner along with Kitti Herczeg and Ion Beroiz, said the original idea for Escape Hotel, which soft-opened July 19th, began two and a half years ago. The trio met in film school and have a strong background in the entertainment and restaurant business.
“The three of us visited an escape room, and we were amazed because of the atmosphere and the way everyone creates their own story. But aside from the game itself, we saw that there was no protocol or real customer service at the attraction. There was no way to have a great time other than the game itself,” he explains. “We decided someone is going to be very successful implementing these things, and we thought that someone should be us.”
With that in mind, Leon, Herczeg, and Berioz began to build a brand and look for a location in which to execute it. “We knew Hollywood was a hub of tourism, and we wanted a location that would become a landmark – and that’s why we took over the old Geisha House. We’d been looking at another location, but we decided this was the best place for us.”
The next decision was to create ten solid attractions. “We wanted to be the biggest escape attraction in the world,” Leon asserts. “Right now the largest attraction is in Canada, and has eight rooms.”
Brainstorming the rooms themselves and the concept of the hotel, Leon’s co-partner Herczeg came up with the Escape Hotel concept. “From there it was all about designing a magical, weird place, where every room takes you to a different universe, each with its own character.”
As to the ideas for the individual rooms, each partner came up with ideas of different things they wanted to explore and liked personally. “The pirate room and the agent room were my idea,” Leon says. “Overall we thought about ideas that were attractive to the public, things that are powerful.” The games and props in the rooms were designed by Leon and his partners, with set design provided by an outside firm. Each game lasts just over an hour and provides a fully immersive experience.
The rooms can be experienced individually or in combination. Gift cards and multiple discounts will be available for purchase as well. And, Leon and his partners also wanted to provide a comfortable lounge and café area where guests can continue to enjoy the Escape Hotel experience when the game itself is over.
“We wanted to create a way to extend the experience,” Leon reports. “We knew that one of the most exciting parts of the game is to have a space to sit down and talk about the experience afterwards in a fun atmosphere. We’re offering salads, sandwiches, and unique coffee drinks, and we’ll soon be offering snacks like old-school popcorn, cotton candy, and ice cream. We want people to sit down, relax, play a board game, and discuss what they’ve experienced.” Leon and his partners are working on obtaining a liquor license, as well.
In the meantime, Leon has noticed some Hollywood tourists considering the Escape Hotel an actual hotel – the kind that does leave mints on pillows. “We get a lot of that. We had a man in a business suit with rolling luggage ask us just the other day if we had availability that night. The front desk staff had to explain to him that it wasn’t that kind of hotel. But we don’t mind – we think it’s cool,” he laughs.
The Escape Hotel is open from noon to midnight Tuesday-Friday, and from ten a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Escape Hotel
6633 Hollywood Blvd.
Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.