House of Clues is a Great Escape From the Ordinary

The Escape Room's Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The Escape Room’s Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

Escape room games are super popular and Santa Barbara finally has its own one-of-a-kind venue: the House of Clues, 629 N. Salsipuedes St., 805/229-9179,

Co-owners Assel Abdrakhmanova and Oscar Zevalos (they also have a third partner, Whitman Heining) were designing props and sets for themed events and escape rooms for outside clients when they decided to create their own, custom, one-of-a-kind attraction.

“We knew we could do a better job and make it even better and more challenging,” says Zevalos.

Their goal is eventually to franchise their concepts, with Santa Barbara as the first location, and I think they’ve got a winner. Not only was our “Pirate Ghost Ship” game well designed and challenging, it truly was exciting and fun for our entire group—which included my college age niece and her boyfriend, as well as my husband and I, and my sister and brother-in-law.

The author and her family, having barely escaped the Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The author and her family, having barely escaped the Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The “fun for all ages” claim seems truly legit as evidenced by the enthusiastic group of 13-year-old boys who went before us. This would also be a great team building activity for companies, students, group of friends, date nights and other group events.

The way that escape rooms work is they combine mental puzzles with physical challenges and a beat-the-clock element keeps things moving along quickly. With 45 minutes to escape from a given room (which is actually a series of rooms), you are under constant video and audio surveillance and can communicate with the game master at any time, as well as receive clues when needed. Every move counts, and nothing is as it seems. The game was much more challenging than any of us were expecting and we needed a few helpful tips from Assel to move us along in places.

In addition to the “Pirate Ghost Ship,” the House of Clues also has a “Psycho Dentist” game on the menu with another theme on the way soon.

Currently operating Mon.-Thurs. from 5-10 p.m., Fri. from noon- 11.30 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. from 10a.m.-11:30 p.m., the House of Clues is a great new addition to the local scene. Cost is $35 per person, children must be at least eight years old to play, and an adult must accompany those under age 15. For more information, visit

Leslie Dinaberg                

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 28, 2017.