Away with the girls
Overseas hen parties
USA, New York, Times Square, yellow taxi cab
Patrons sit along Kloveniersburgwal canal at Cafe De Jaren in central Amsterdam.
Spain, Barcelona, Placa Reial
Is there a better way to spend your hen night than wandering around in wobbly stilettos and bunny ears? Yes. You can wobble around abroad. Call it reputational damage limitation.
If an overseas hen party seems like a relic of the boom, think again. While the recession may have led to a fall off in demand, it has resulted in a serious drop in prices too. These days you can organise a pretty hectic hen package in a Europe an city for not much more than you’d spend at home.
And of course you’d have the inestimable benefit of being able to say with some confidence that what happens in London, Paris or wherever, stays there. On the other hand, what happens in Temple Bar could end up on a Des Bishop documentary.
Make for Marbella
If you can make your own way to Marbella, Jenni Woolfson of specialist hen party organiser Posh Fizz can guarantee you an action-packed weekend of fun starting from €99 per person. Prices depend on the numbers going (the more the merrier – and the cheaper) the standard of accommodation you want and the number of activities you want to include. Choose from all sorts of guaranteed giggler options including flamenco, salsa or belly dancing classes. (There’s pole dancing too but, come on, really?)
Other activities include pamper sessions with massages, hot tubs or Turkish baths, cocktail-making master classes and, maybe after taking in a show, VIP assistance at one of the area’s liveliest nightclubs .
Live it up in London
London makes a great hen option – short travel time and plenty of cheap flights . UK firm Hen Heaven has what it calls the “Jimmy Choos of Hen Dos”, its Platinum Hen Weekend.
The package includes five-star city centre accommodation with dinner in a nearby restaurant before heading off to a cocktail bar with a meet and greet offer just for you. From there it’s on to a top nightclub as VIP guests.
Next day, having taken time to apply the blister plasters, it’s on to a dance class where, it says, you’ll learn to “dance like the pros” – which presumably means crotch grabbing and hand jabbing. Wow the locals with your new moves when you hit the nightclubs again that night, hot off a “party bus” that guarantees you free entry into the busiest clubs in the city. From £ 249 (€288). henheaven.co.uk
Put on a show in Paris
As the city of love, Paris is typically associated with coupledom but it makes a great location in which to enjoy the last big hurrah of singledom too – not least because everything just sounds so much sexier in French.
Go Hen has a two-night option that includes sight-seeing, shopping, dinner reservations and a trip to the Moulin Rouge to see its famous can-can girls. After which you can can-can your way back to your thre- star hotel. All its breaks include 24 hour assistance, which might give those at home some peace of mind too. From £ 235 (€272). gohen.com
Bars in Barcelona
Or how about beautiful Barcelona? With private transfers taking you to apartment accommodation close to both the city centre and the beach, it’s the perfect recipe for an action-packed weekend. The package here starts with a guided bar crawl (pace yourself ladies, there’s a free drink in each) and ends in the early hours of the next day at a top nightclub.
The following day there’s a restorative four -hour cruise along the city’s Mediterranean coastline on your very own 12m yacht. Work on your tan and nurse your hangover all at the same time, with someone on hand to ply you with tapas (the Spanish equivalent of a morning-after fry) and cava (hair of the dog). After this, because you’re young and still have your collagen, you’ll be all set to go clubbing again. From £205 (€237). gohen.com
Amsterdam is the place to be this year, what with the reopening of the Rijksmuseum next month following hot on the heels of the new extension at the nearby Stedelijk, its leading museum of modern and contemporary art.
Only kidding, the only pictures you’ll be interested in this weekend are embarrassing ones of your friends that you can put up on Facebook. You know, the kind that they have no choice but to laugh at but are secretly fuming about.
Irish company Fun Factory, part of Marathon Travel, specialises in stag and hen packages and has one in Amsterdam which includes salsa dancing and cocktail-making classes, plus nightclub assistance. And no, that doesn’t mean carrying you home when you’re slumped in a corner, it means helping you jump the queue like a VIP. Two nights’ accommodation in a three-star hotel, including flights, starts from €249, depending on dates and numbers.
Antics in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a great weekend city break option, with a student buzz and two distinct sides to the city – medieval and Georgian – which are both equally gorgeous, and equally lethal to stiletto wearers – it must be the cobble capital of Europe. Things run much more smoothly with this Lady Racers ’ hen weekend however, which includes two nights’ accommodation plus a stint on a race track in either Honda Pilots or Rage Buggies. By night, travel from club to club in your very own bus, before repairing to your city centre dormitory style accommodation. Oh come on, it’ll be like Mallory Towers. Or St Trinians. Prices from £138 (€159). gobananas.com
GO NUTS IN NEW YORK
Of course in the US they don’t have hen nights so much as bachelorette parties. Nyma, the New York Manhattan Hotel , has packages that include free nail manicures for every hen. They’ll also help you come up with a range of activities including a two-hour male nude life drawing master class at The Artful Bachelorette in Central Manhattan.
By night head to the trendy, glow in the dark, late night disco bowling at Bowlmor in Times Square. Nyma’s bride-to-be package starts from $285 (€217) excluding flights between April and June.
FLY THE COOP IN IBIZA
Ibiza is the ultimate party destination so if you want a thumping great hen, it’s going to be hard to beat. Thomas Cook puts it at the top of its list of hen party destinations for its mix of great clubs for nights out and sunny beaches for mornings after.
UK firm Red Seven Leisure has a Set Sail and Party weekend including three nights’ accommodation in San Antonio, party central. The package, subject to minimum group sizes of 10 people, includes a three-hour coastal cruise. From £162 (€187) excluding flights. redsevenleisure.co.uk,
TAKE THE PLUNGE IN PRAGUE
Irish firm Henit.ie has a Purely Party Weekend including two nights’
accommodation, airport transfers, a guided bar crawl including beer, plus priority nightclub entry from €135 (excluding flights).
Throw a cocktail-making class into the shaker for just a few quid more. Prices from €38, including hotel transfers.