(ad gifted) A Mystery Picnic is like a mini treasure hunt around the streets of London, but instead of picking up gold coins, you’re collecting far more valuable currency of bread, cheese and cupcakes. But what actually happens on the day – check out our review of a London Mystery picnic to find out.
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- What’s a Mystery Picnic?
- Welcome to Camden
- Do I Have to Go To Camden?
- How Easy Were The Clues?
- Is The Food Fresh?
- What Happens if Somewhere is Closed?
- What’s the Best Day to Do The Picnic
- What Happens if The Weather is Bad
- What Do You Need to Pack?
- Do You Really Need a Cool Bag?
- Any Criticisms of the Picnic?
- Would it Make a Good Date?
- Can You Sightsee Enroute?
- Is There A Good Choice of Food
- How Much is a Mystery Picnic?
- Can I Take My Kids?
- Do They Offer Mystery Picnics Outside London?
- Is Mystery Picnic Worth It?
- Where Do You Book
What’s a Mystery Picnic?
The idea is very simple. You’re given a set of clues on your phone the answers to which spell out the name of food shops and cafes around the area you’ve chosen for your picnic. You then head off to them and pick up heaps of yummy goodies. By the end of all your stops, you end up at a suggested picnic place and tuck in.
They’re run by a company called AmazingCo and you can try them all over the world.
That’s why this is not my first time at the Mystery Picnic rodeo.
I tried one in Sydney, where I live, a little while ago and loved it and so I was interested to see what is was like to do one in London too. The reason was that, I know my way round Sydney pretty well and so I was wondering if one of the reasons I enjoyed it was that I already kind of knew where we were going – and, so I wanted to do it in in a city I didn’t know as well.
Admittedly, I used to live in London, but, the areas in which the London Mystery Picnics are offered – Camden and Primrose Hill, Hampstead, Notting Hill and Greenwich, weren’t my old stomping grounds and so I figured that London was a good as place as any to give it a try.
I picked the Camden and Primrose Hill picnic as it was easiest to get to from my hotel in Tower Hill.
Welcome to Camden
My oldest friend Michael was roped in to help (and bring some plates) and, after solving our first clue to check exactly where we needed to start, we arranged to meet at Camden Station at 11.00am.
Michael is vegetarian and so I also thought this would be a good chance to try the veggie version of the picnic, as last time I’d gone for the meat version, and see how they compared.
Both of us were early and so, we actually set off at 10.45 – this turned out to be not the best plan as the first stop made a comment that we were early and stop number two wasn’t even open by the time we got there (although once they realised what we needed though they brought out our goodies).
So, tip number one is don’t start before the suggested 11am slot!
I’m not going to spoil the picnic by telling you where you pick your food up from but, we had eight clues to solve on the tour and of those, we picked up food at four of them: the others pointed out interesting things around the area.
That was good as, having seen how much food was on the picnic in Sydney, the idea of collecting goodies from eight different spots was a bit scary!
For the next 90 minutes we meandered through the main streets of Camden and the back streets of Primrose Hill. The whole thing was about 3km of walking by the time we made it to our final picnic point and, we took 6500 steps.
That time doesn’t include the happy hour and a bit we spent in The Engineer pub for a nice refreshing drink or two on the way!
As we reached the top of Primrose Hill and unwrapped our bounty we were pretty hungry – which was good as there was a lot of food. Mr Differentville had gatecrashed by this point and there was more than enough for the three of us.
My only slight criticism was there was a lot of cheese – I know we picked the veggie option, but something non-cheesy from one stop, like a salad or veggie quiche or something, might have been nice. Admittedly, the fresh cheeses were very good and came with some delicious sides – and the sandwiches with pesto in were AMAZING.
If that already sounds cool, head here to check out the different types of Mystery Picnic they offer in London, make a booking or buy a friend a gift certificate.
But if you have questions, so, this is the bit where I’ll try and answer them.
Do I Have to Go To Camden?
Not necessarily – right now, in London you can also choose from Mystery Picnics in Notting Hill, Hampstead or Greenwich.
Have a look at the link above to see what else might work for you.
How Easy Were The Clues?
Pretty easy. There were anagrams, spelling mistake games, picture games and there was only one where we stood them typing in about five different answers before we finally go the letters around the right way (and then kicked ourselves because it was really obvious!)
As I said, one of the reasons why I wanted to do the picnic in London was to see if it was as fun to do the picnic in a new city, or if you’d find the clues harder to solve, and the answer is no. So, if you want a crash course in the foodie scene of London, this is a great way to do it.
Once you have solved the clue you’re then given the address of the shop and get direction on maps to take you there.
If you get stuck, you can also get a hint, or just skip that bit and reveal the answer.
One thing I liked about the London one was the information about each site you’re given – they were all pretty interesting and the first stop had the most fantastic history.
Is The Food Fresh?
All the shops are expecting you and know what they’re giving you, which might make you wonder how long it’s been ready for.
Very fresh. In almost every case, they just bag up the food in front of you from the shop display just as if you’d walked in to buy it, so it’s not like you’re getting things that have been hanging around out the for a while.
There was only one place where we think they might have made the item a bit too far in advance.
What Happens if Somewhere is Closed?
As I said, we turned up a bit early for one of the places on our list. The door was open and we wandered in saying in ‘we’re here to pick up the Mystery Picnic’ – and, they told us they didn’t open until 12.
This was about 11.30. No biggie, we’re in London, the pubs are open… but, as we sat outside working out which pub to go to, they actually came out and brought our item.
Admittedly, we had started a bit early but even if we hadn’t we’d still have got there before they opened. So, my advice is to start a little bit later than 11am – or, take your time wandering around if it looks like you’re going to reach spot two before 12.
On the Sydney picnic, one of the answers to the clues was a place that was properly closed as it was being decorated, but they app explained this and directed us to a nearby cafe to pick up an alternative dish that was ready and waiting. I’m guessing the London app would do that too.
What’s the Best Day to Do The Picnic
Weekends are obviously the most popular time, but the Camden Mystery Picnic particularly I’d definitely say if you can go on a weekday then do.
Camden can be a zoo at the weekend, especially if you do go out a bit later, whereas when we were there it wasn’t too busy and we could easily wander around without bumping into people.
We did ours on a Tuesday.
What Happens if The Weather is Bad
It’s England, it’s a valid question!
And, it is a possible downside as if you can’t cancel the picnic on the day, it has to be done three days before – so by the end of Tuesday if you’re picnicing at the weekend. Which either means trusting the weather forecast, or, having an under cover back up plan for a rainy day.
If you don’t know the area and rain is forecast, Mystery Picnic suggest giving them a call and they’ll try and suggest an under cover picnic location for the end.
What Do You Need to Pack?
You’re given quite the list of things to take with you, picnic basket, plates, cutlery, blankets, ice packs, cool bags… I was on holiday and so had none of those things so Michael was in charge of bringing accessories. I just had an extra tote bag for food.
We had a picnic blanket, plates, cutlery and an ice pack and that was perfect for the types of food we were given.
The only other thing I’d suggest would be something to cover your food. I’d forgotten about wasps as we don’t really have them in Australia, but they hadn’t forgotten me – and they were very keen on some of the pastes that went with the cheese!
You’re told to bring a pen and paper, and while I had one on my me, we managed to solve the clues without having to write things down.
Do You Really Need a Cool Bag?
For the sake of health and safety, you probably should take something to keep things cool.
It was pretty warm the day we did the picnic and so it was good to keep the cheese cool (the blue cheese had got a bit stinky on our Sydney picnic as we didn’t have one).
Any Criticisms of the Picnic?
There were only two things that went a little bit wrong.
At one point the app froze which meant we couldn’t get the next clue and no matter how many buttons we pushed it would just glitch. We were a bit worried that this would end our experience, but no. If you just reset it and refresh the browser it comes back to where you were.
Also, one of the sights that they suggested in an area sounded really interesting (to someone who writes a blog on weird stuff anyway) – but it’s not there any more. We only discovered this after walking up and down a few times.
So, while I said, I wouldn’t give away any of the points on the picnic, if you do see a mention of the Vagina Museum when you do your picnic, it’s moved to Bethnal Green!
Would it Make a Good Date?
The picnic we booked is referred to as a Mystery Picnic Date, as it’s for two people, and yes, it would make a fun date as there’s lots of different things that can stop the conversation getting boring.
You will need to wear flats though – especially if you plan on scaling Primrose Hill at the end.
If you’re in a less romantic mood, you can also book picnics for friends or a family picnic.
Can You Sightsee Enroute?
Yes. You get to go past some cool street art, a lot of shops and a few interesting Camden sights en route and you can easily pop into the shops on the way (I might even have done a little clothes shopping myself).
Checking the current closing time of all the places we went to, the earliest one of them seems to close is 5pm – so, you’ve got plenty of time to get from A-B – although I would suggest wrapping up your pick ups by 2pm to be sure that everywhere still has stock.
If you are going to take longer to complete your pick ups though definitely make sure you have something to keep the fresh items cool.
Is There A Good Choice of Food
There’s a lot of food – but a lot of it on the vegetarian picnic included cheese, so, if you don’t like cheese you might want to mention that.
This might not be the case in every area though – and, also is unlikely to be the case on the non-veggie picnic.
You’re also given the opportunity to tell them about any allergies or other special diets when you book.
They cater for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free – and you can split the menu if one of you has dietary requirements and the other doesn’t.
How Much is a Mystery Picnic?
At the time of writing this the picnic for couples is £60 for the ordinary version, the premium version, which includes some extras is £95
If that doesn’t sound super cheap (especially if like me your normal picnic is chips and dip) but, it’s actually just £30 a head and if you think about what you’d pay to have dinner in a restaurant on a actual date, it’s cheaper than that – and, more fun.
You can also add on wine for a bit more.
Can I Take My Kids?
Way past the dating stage? Do not worry, there are a couple of different types of Mystery Picnic available – they do one for families which includes some kid-friendly options (and enough food for two adults and two smaller children) and, one for friends which you can book for as many people as you need to.
They also say the Friends picnic is better for families if you have teenage children.
The Friend’s picnic is also the one to book if you’re going as a group rather than a couple as you can choose the number of people going on the day.
Do They Offer Mystery Picnics Outside London?
Yes, there are a few different locations for UK Mystery Picnics, have a look at their UK page for more details as they’re adding new ones all the time, but right now they offer Dorking, Bath, Canterbury and the Cotswolds. Towns like Brighton are on their way.
You’ll find a full list of locations on their UK page
Is Mystery Picnic Worth It?
This supposed to be a Mystery Picnic Review so what did I think … it is worth spending a day of your weekend, or your holiday doing it.
Yes! If have any interest in food, love picnics, or just want something different to do from sitting in the pub (said the person, who went to the pub during her Mystery Picnic!)
I enjoyed it as much as the Sydney one. We had a great time. There was plenty of time for us to catch up and chat, and we got to explore something different.
Both Michael and Mr Differentville really enjoyed themselves – and the latter had refused to come with me before. ‘Better than I thought it was going to be,’ is the exact quote as he stands behind me right now! He was particularly keen on the cheese – and liked that he got to spot a celebrity at one of the pick up points.
Okay, so it wasn’t Taylor Swift (who lives in Primrose Hill as to lots of other big name stars). It was newsreader Jon Snow, but he was impressed. He also liked the fact that he got to stop off at the pub and that you weren’t tied to set timings.
In a nutshell, it’s a great way to spend a day and eat all the food. I’d definitely do it again in another city.
Where Do You Book
It’s easy – just head to the website. It’ll suggest your nearest location, or, you can hunt around if you’re booking it as part of a weekend trip and then you just choose the best experience for you.
Remember, the Couples picnic is the one we tried.
The ffmily picnic is for those with smaller kids
The Friends picnic is best for a group of you or those with older children.
If you think it’s a great gift for a friend, but aren’t sure when you want to go, they also do gift certificates.
So, there you have it, our Mystery Picnic London review and hopefully everything you need to know – but if we’ve missed any questions you have, then drop us a note in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.
What to Read Next
We’ve got quite a few London posts on the site finding fun things to do in different areas – but, here’s a few of our favourites…
One of the first things I wanted to do on this trip was to visit the Harry Potter Butterbeer bar in Covent Garden – so it was my first stop. You’ll also found out where you can drink out of the snout of a unicorn!
If you like hunting for things, you might want to go and check out the unusual paintings hidden on London’s Millennium Bridge. They’re made from chewing gum.
Also have a look at some of our areas guides – we’ve checked out fun things to do in Soho (including riding around on a beer bike and the Batman-themed bar to check out).
Or, you might want to explore Kings Cross where you’ll find the Spice Girl’s famous staircase and a hidden lighthouse.
Who Writes Differentville?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a journalist and author living in Sydney.
My travel articles have been published in titles include The Australian, Body & Soul at the Sunday Telegraph, RAC Horizons, Jetstar magazine and more.
I like the weird, the wonderful and anything that makes me jump and down with glee like I’m about three. That’s what you’ll find here.