10 alternative hen night ideas
Ring? Check. Dress? Check. Groom? Check. Night of vodka-fuelled abandonment with your best mates, some L-plates and a male stripper? Well...
Whilst the Hen Night is the traditional last night of freedom, it doesn't have to be spent with the predictable bar crawl, nightclub and oiled-up stud scenario. We've found 10 alternative hen night ideas to suit every group of girlfriends.
The London Eye
Champagne, the London skyline and your own private capsule; the London Eye is a great start to a swanky hen night, mixing drinks, gossip and a night on the town. For £35 per person, you and your friends will have fast-track check-in, priority boarding and a glass of bubbly for your 30-minute 'flight'. And for you speedy drinkers, you can also pre-book a second glass of champagne for £9 extra. To book, contact www.londoneye.com or call 0870 220 2223.
Head-to-toe towelling, comfy slippers and a pile of trashy magazines -- doesn't sound like your usual hen night, but it does sound like heaven. With a spa visit, all the girls can enjoy pampering with facials, massages and specialist treatments. Plus, there are spas all over the UK to suit every budget. For the traditional country pile health farm, there are Champneys at Henlow Grange, Tring, Springs (Leicestershire) and Forest Mere. Forget the out-of-date images of carrot juice and 5am power walks - you can just come to relax and indulge yourselves. They even have a special Hen Heaven package (which includes a manicure or pedicure, facial and a makeup application) for £50 per person for groups of six or more. For more information, go to www.champneys.com
For a day to remember in London, you might try the famous ladies-only spa, The Sanctuary - you know, the one with the swing over the swimming pool. A day's entry to the Sanctuary is £75 per person, Monday to Thursday and £85 per person Friday to Sunday. Use of the pool (and swing!), sauna, steam room, whirlpool and relaxation areas is included. Treatments are extra and start at around £75 for 50 minutes and £45 for 25 minutes. You can also book a package that includes entry, lunch and loads of extras. Contact The Sanctuary at www.thesanctuary.co.uk. For more spa ideas, check out our list of London's top spas.
A Day at the Races
Feeling lucky? Then how about taking your hens to the races? Choose from Cheltenham, Chepstow, Aintree or Ascot. If you can, time your outing so it coincides with the Grand National or Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot, where it's more about the fashion than the horses. Party packages (which include racecards and refreshments) are available for around £60 per person.
The Great Outdoors
If you're a bride-to-be with bundles of pre-wedding nervous energy to burn off, it's time to get physical! Try www.outdooradventures.co.uk for surfing, kayaking, archery, abseiling and coastal traversing. For dancing queens, www.lastnightoffreedom.co.uk can organise two nights' accommodation in a converted mansion house with its own nightclub for £145 per person. On Saturday, after spending the day trekking, you have dinner at the hotel and free entry to the club. On Sunday, you canoe away the cobwebs (or just have a lie-in).
Whilst it may not quite be Hawaii, Newquay is still the surf capital of the UK, with its fair share of cute, shaggy-haired boys and the chance for you and your hens to learn to surf in a weekend. From March through to November you can book a few hours or a few days of tuition. If you have any energy left at the end of the day, there are plenty of clubs and bars for a glass of wine or two. Two days' surfing instruction, all equipment and accommodation for two nights will set you back around £86pp (depending on the season) through westcoastsurfari.com.
Choose highballs, high rollers and cocktail dresses for a glamorous hen night. You don't have to have wads of cash to enjoy low-stakes betting in casinos around the UK. London Clubs International (www.lciclubs.com/) has casinos in towns and cities across the country, as does Ladbroke Casinos. With good restaurants and cocktail lounge areas to relax in, you can play as much or as little as you want. Many clubs are in rather swanky hotels, making it possible to book a stay and make a weekend of it. And with minimum bets on roulette from 50p, it doesn't have to cost the Earth, either. Anyone can play, but one of your party does have to be a member of the casino. Simply join online or at the casino itself. Due to the new gambling laws you no longer have to join in advance. Membership is free.
Every hen likes to shake her tail feathers -- or get up close and personal with snake-hipped Latinos. A night of salsa fits the bill on both counts. You can shake your thang at salsa clubs all over the country. Bar Salsa in London is typical of most in that you can have dinner and an hour's dance lesson before being let loose on the dancefloor. For £35pp, your group will get dinner, cocktails and a dance lesson thrown in free. Try www.bar-salsa.com if you're in London, or visit www.londonsalsa.co.uk to find your nearest club.
If you fancy a hen party with a bit of timeless style, try the Orient Express. Take a day trip to your favourite city for sightseeing and shopping or simply settle into the dining car for lunch or dinner. A four-course lunch trip with champagne and wine is around £250pp. Trains depart from all over the UK. Find your nearest departure point and destinations at www.orient-express.com.
Theme parks are a great way to get your group in touch with their inner child, and they can scream their heads off while doing it. Start with the white-knuckle roller coasters: Blackpool has Revolution; Flamingo Land in Yorkshire has The Bullet; and Alton Towers has Nemesis and Oblivion - the most famous roller coasters of them all. Make a weekend of it by booking into the Alton Towers Hotel. The park is open from April to November with rooms at the hotel starting from £80pp with four sharing. Visit www.alton-towers.co.uk or call 08705 00 11 00 to book the hotel.
Oh, go on then, get 'em off! If you just want flesh, flesh, flesh, book yourself front-row seats for some hunky male strippers. The Dream Boys are still going strong, so if you fancy an evening watching fit men bump and grinding in G-strings, then visit www.dreamboys.co.uk. Alternatively, check out the The Adonis Cabaret Show in Brighton, Bournemouth, London, Newcastle and Blackpool. Starting at £29pp (varies by location), you get more benefits than you could shake a stick at, including a buffet, a cocktail and entry to the club afterwards.