Hen and Stag

Whether it’s a wild weekend or a stylish send-off that you’re looking for, we’ve put together a hit list of some of the best ways to enjoy your final nights of freedom…

Words by Emma Langman

For the girls

1 COUNTRY AIR

Sitting in the picturesque village of Hurst, close to the historic towns of Windsor, Ascot and Henley-on-Thames, you can really get away from it all at St Swithin’s Cottage. Enjoy the fabulous accommodation at the house, where you can relax with your favourite girls, before exploring the nearby towns. In Hurst, you can go horse riding and explore the local vineyards, or venture further afield and take a boat trip along the River Thames. The cottage has everything you need and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants nearby where you can while away the evenings over a bottle of wine (or three!). Weekends start from £55 per person per night for 17 or more hens.
St Swithin’s Cottage, 07712 673376, www.stswithinscottage.co.uk

2 THRILLSEEKING HENS

Want to try something a bit different with your hens? Celebrate your almost-singledom in
style by descending en mass on one of Merlin Group’s resorts. Wonder at the life-like wax works at Madame Tussauds or hop on the rides at Alton Towers [above] for what is sure to be a funfilled weekend. With rides like ‘Nemesis’ and ‘Oblivion’, this is definitely a trip for the adrenaline junkies. Day tickets from around £20 when booking through Merlin Groups.
Merlin Groups, 0871 222 6944, www.merlingroups.com

3 CHOCS AWAY

Tick off two items on your planning list by spending some quality time with your best girls and making some yummy luxury chocolate wedding favours. We’re sure your hens will love getting busy with the sweet stuff at a fun and informative chocolate making course at Cocoa Black in Peebles, before relaxing at the nearby Macdonald Cardrona Hotel in the evening. The chocolate school can cater for up to 40 or you can book a private group chocolate class. Cocoa Black Chocolate Truffle Making class is £49 per person. Rooms at the Macdonald Cardrona from £185 per person for three nights including dinner, bed and breakfast and a £10 drinks voucher and £10 spa voucher.
Cocoa Black, 01721 723764, www.cocoablack.co.uk;
Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, 0844 879 9024, www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk

4 TRUE INDULGENCE

Treat yourself and your hens to a fun-filled and relaxing day at the gorgeous Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh – one of the capital’s oldest and most prestigious hotels – with a Champagne Tea Spa Day. A truly indulgent way to kick-off proceedings, you’ll start the celebration with a 55-minute spa treatment of your choice in the hotel’s five-star spa before taking your time and relaxing in the Finnish sauna, Turkish steam room and swimming pool. Once you’re feeling blissedout, move onto afternoon tea at the opulent Bollinger Bar at Palm Court. Sip on a glass of champagne before munching on a variety of sandwiches, scones and pastries fresh from the Balmoral in-house bakery. Why not stay over and spoil yourself with one of the packages tailored especially for brides too? Our top pick is the ‘For The Big Day’ package, which includes a de-stressing ESPA massage, Jessica Prescriptive Manicure and ZenSpa Pedicure for £100 per person. Pure bliss! The Balmoral Champagne Tea Spa Day is £98 per person, valid seven days a week. Booking is essential, call 0131 622 8880 or email thespa.balmoral@roccofortehotels.com.
The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, 0131 556 2414, www.thebalmoralhotel.com

For the boys

1 OUTDOOR CAPITAL

A bit of a go-getting, wilderness junkie? Then hire a minibus for you and the stags and head to Fort William and Lochaber, the ‘outdoor capital’ of the UK. From quad biking to horse riding, there are countless activities to try out in the area. For a proper Bear Grylls experience, don some camouflage gear and try some Highland sporting pursuits like clay pigeon shooting or brown trout fishing. If you’re more of a rambler, there’s plenty of waterfalls, historical walks and beaches to explore; or, try the fun High Wire facilities at Nevis Range if you want to take things up a notch. You’ll be spoiled for choice for cool places to crash at too, from hostels to B&Bs and hotels. The Kingairloch Estate [pictured above] is a great choice with gorgeous views of Loch Linnhe. The estate offers self-catering, a lochside restaurant, a luxury bed and breakfast and can organise sporting activities as well. A stay at the Kingairloch Estate steadings ranges from £950-£1400 per week on a self-catering basis and sleeps eight adults.
Outdoor Capital of the UK, 01397 705765, www.outdoorcapital.co.uk;
Kingairloch Estate, Ardgour, 01967 411242, www.kingairloch-holidays.co.uk

2 AFTERNOON DELIGHT

It’s no longer just the ladies who can enjoy a refined afternoon quaffing tea from china mugs. Cameron House has collaborated with the nearby Glengoyne Whisky Distillery to
provide a boys’ alternative to afternoon tea. The Whisky Afternoon Tea boasts a fine menu that includes rare roast beef and Arran mustard sandwiches and black pudding Scotch eggs, followed by Glengoyne whisky fruit cake and a ten year-old Glengoyne Whisky miniature. Why not precede it with a visit to the distillery itself or a round of golf at the hotel’s championship course, The Carrick? From £26 per person.
Cameron House on Loch Lomond, 01389 755565, www.cameronhouse.co.uk

3 SHOOT THE RAPIDS

One of the big-hitters on the stag party scene, Redseven has loads of packages that take the pain out of co-ordinating a trip. Its Shoot the Rapid weekend starts with a Friday night partying in Edinburgh, before spending the next day white water rafting through powerful and fast-flowing rapids. It’s sure to get the adrenaline pumping and make you forget about the hangover! After a day on the water, your stags will enjoy a night out at one of Edinburgh’s top night clubs with VIP entry and queue jump. Prices start from £132 including two nights accommodation, club entry and activities.
Redseven Leisure, 01273 872200, www.redsevenleisure.co.uk

4 ONE FOR THE LAIRDS

Nestled on the island of Jura, off the west coast of Scotland, the luxurious Jura Lodge has put together the ultimate high-end stag weekend that includes whisky tastings, thrill-seeking adventures and gourmet food. The Laird’s Weekend package gives you and your stags exclusive use of the lodge and allows you to try fly fishing at one of the island’s lochs, climb mountains, enjoy a private distillery tour and sample the finest whiskies. There is also the opportunity to explore Jura by speedboat, taking in the perilous Corryvreckan Whirlpool. Then, return to the Lodge in the evening for a gourmet dinner cooked by one of the island’s chefs rounded off with a few drams of Jura’s acclaimed whisky. Package is £2000 per person which includes two nights in the Lodge, breakfast,
distillery tour with whisky sampling, dinner for one night and a choice of two activities. Email info@isleofjura.com to book.

Jura Lodge, www.isleofjura.com

5 SING YOUR HEART OUT

There’s no better way to bond with your best buds than singing along to your favourite tunes at a karaoke bar, whether you’re in tune or not. Edinburgh’s Electric Circus is a fun-filled colourful nightclub that offers a five-star karaoke experience for a night that’s sure to be one you will remember (though the tone-deaf might rather forget). Its seven state-of-the-art private karaoke rooms are each decorated in their own theme and served by waiting staff so you can keep your vocal chords lubricated while you’re belting out the Bruce Springsteen numbers! From £8 per person per hour or from £45 per room per hour (depending on room choice).
­­­Electric Circus, Edinburgh, 0131 226 4224, www.theelectriccircus.biz