A Guide to Sleep No More: Lost in the McKittrick Hotel

Sleep No More is a choose your own adventure type theater piece that we attended while in New York City. It is based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but this is not your ordinary show. An old warehouse was turned into the McKittrick Hotel, which you are free to explore throughout the night. It’s what some would call an immersive theater experience.

As you enter, you’ll start at the coat check. You’ll need to drop your coat (and bags) as you cannot take anything into the performance with you. Bring a few bucks with you because you’ll need cash to check anything ($3). This is the last point of the night where you’ll see anybody out of character.

As you approach the ‘hotel check-in’, you’ll give your name and the attendants will give you a playing card in exchange. This card is your ticket into the performance and what card you get will determine when you are allowed in. You’ll go through a few dark and narrow hallways and eventually it will open up to a lounge where the rest of the guests are awaiting entry and grabbing a drink. I heard there were cheap punch cocktails available, but instead we stumbled upon the $13 St. German cocktails instead. Whoops.

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So we stood at a table, sipping on our overpriced cocktails and awaited our chance to enter. Kris was handed a 2 card and me a 3, but she was too afraid to go at it alone. It was pretty creepy, so I can’t blame her.

Once we entered, everyone gathered in a small room where we were explained the rules – keep your mask on; no talking.

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And into the cramped elevator. I’ve heard that they will separate people on the elevator, allowing a few to exit on each floor with a stern arm dropping between the group. Knowing this, I figured Kris and I would pretend not to be together and casually walk out. It worked.

We exited to begin our journey.

The floors of the hotel are broken out as follows:

5 – Hospital Ward, including doctor’s offices, a padded room, a room full of beds, a room full of bathtubs, and a surgery observation room. A forest that really feels like you are outdoors.
4 – Street of shops, the speakeasy/pool hall, Hecate’s duplicate of the Manderly bar.
3 – Macbeth’s bedroom, Macduff’s suite, crumbled courtyard, cemetery.
2 – Hotel lobby, Manderly Bar, bank of phone booths, hotel dining room.
1 – Duncan’s quarters, several small chapels, balcony overlooking the forest/ballroom
Lower Level – forest/ballroom/balcony.

It was quiet as we began to roam around, room to room. But soon we heard church bells going off and people started to scramble downstairs. Obviously, something was happening so we ran, following the crowd, and ended up in a scene in Macbeth’s bedroom. This is where we first found out what this show was all about. The characters do not speak and use interpretive dance to act out a scene. If I were sitting in a theater watching this it would not really be my thing, but when you are getting pushed out of the way by actors, watching them jump off walls, and taking in the creepiness of 20 other people surrounding you with white masks on, this is pretty awesome.

So we continued to wander for the next three hours, rummaging through drawers, checking every door knob and following characters as we encounter them. It was a surreal and I’m glad we did it.

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A few tips:

  • Stay close to the characters and follow them as you encounter them.
  • Wear good shoes. The performers move fast and chances are you’ll be running down dark hallways or up and down stairs trying to keep up with them.
  • Find the bathrooms. If you had too many cocktails in the lounge beforehand you might need them. They are on the hospital floor close to the elevator.
  • Explore anything and everything. If you’re going somewhere you shouldn’t, staff wearing black masks will lead you in the right direction.
  • Make sure you see the last banquet scene.
  • Find the lady in the red dress at the end of the night and grab a drink in the upstairs lounge or on the rooftop deck.

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