FAVOURITE THINGS: Making great escapes into parks and cuisine in Sheffield

Hannah Duraid from The Great Escape on the roof garden at union Street Her favourite place in Sheffield
Hannah Duraid from The Great Escape on the roof garden at union Street Her favourite place in Sheffield

Hannah Duraid, aged 25, discovered Crystal Maze-style live escape room games while travelling the world in 2013. Upon returning to the UK to start her PGCE at Sheffield Hallam University in September 2014, Hannah and partner Peter Lacole decided to start Sheffield’s first live escape room. Mad Scientist opened in January 2015 – family, friends or colleagues have 45 minutes to escape by solving puzzles as the clock ticks. Now followed by three more rooms, the attraction has been voted Sheffield’s number one for fun on TripAdvisor. Great Escape employs 17 staff and opened in Leeds in late September. Hannah lives in Norton and was inspired by her dad, who told her she could do anything. She recently won the Northern Power Woman One to Watch as well as the Duke of York Entrepreneur of the Year and Yorkshire 42 under 42. Last week she won the Northern Women in Business 2016 young entrepreneur of the year award.


We’ve only been part of this space for a couple of months, but it’s fair to say we’re absolutely loving our Union Street office! As we expand it was crucial that we had separate space to work away from The Great Escape itself (we found that we enjoyed speaking to the customers far too much!) The people who work there are extremely welcoming and they do wonderful things, such as having tea and homemade cake on the roof garden on a Tuesday afternoon – what more could you want after a long morning working?


I’m always surprised when I see a clueless face when you mention Graves Park. The biggest park in Sheffield is just up the road from where I live and played a huge part in my childhood. It is now an absolute wonderland for my cocker spaniel, Lee-Lee. There’s even an animal park. I often go and feed the donkeys some grass, and me and my mum like to visit the reindeers near Christmas time.


Although Piccolinos in Leopold Square is on my favourites list, I haven’t been in far too long – but when I do, I adore it! It’s the outside seating area that I like best. I have fond memories of unforgettable food, company and conversation. I could simply spend hours watching the world go by. In fact we did just that at the end of last year, when we took Peter’s parents here when they visited from Australia. It was the first time I’d seen them both be warm since they had arrived in England; they’d never sat at a restaurant with a blanket and ‘chicken light’ as his dad described it!


This Cuban rum bar is another one of my favourite haunts, with exciting cocktails, tasty tapas and live salsa dancing. It was a sanctuary where me and my university friends chose to unwind from our hectic week’s teaching and trade our amusing stories. More recently we hosted a staff night out here, where we toasted to a birthday, a leaving and a couple of promotions – it was a night to remember!


It’s fair to say this place is an obsession with me and the team, being just around the corner from us. Having recently met the passionate owners, Abi and Richard, it was refreshing to see the synergy that we have. Street Food has a real quirky energy and if you haven’t been already… you must! My favourite is the pan-fried burrito which is fast becoming part of my staple diet.



If we ever need some advice, guidance or just have a simple question to ask, the Business Enterprise Team is who we visit – they are truly fabulous. Based within Sheffield Hallam University, they are a team of experts who support businesses every step of their journey, whether that means nominating us for an award or simply shouting from the rooftops about us.


The Great Escape is my baby, my joy and my happiness, which has taught us so much in such a short time. We have worked really hard on our culture and grown a wonderful team of passionate and rather wild staff I am so proud of. The players are also fantastic.

One thing I really enjoy about the concept is how it forces teams to avoid a world of technology and bond, laugh and actually talk to each other.