Hen heaven – 12 ideas for your pre-wedding party

It’s not just fizz and frolics, y’know (okay, there is a bit of that too): we’ve got a dozen delightful ideas to make your gals gleeful on your pre-wedding soirée

Words by Beth Forsyth

Fine dine and spa

If fine food and feeling fabulous figure highly on your hen wish-list, steer yourself in the direction of Isle of Eriska Hotel and Spa, a five-star island bolthole near Oban. Its spa getaway package includes two nights’ accommodation and a whole lot of indulgence: a 30-minute Rasul mud treatment and either a 90-minute holistic back, face and scalp treatment or a 90-minute holistic total body care treatment as well as unlimited use of the spa facilities and nine-hole golf course. All that pampering is bound to build up an appetite, so the escape also includes dinner in the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, a lower-key but equally tasty dinner the next night in the brand new Deck Restaurant, breakfast each morning, morning coffee and afternoon tea each day. Reality sure will seem like a very long way away! Spa Getaway, £499 per person.

Dine in style with a Michelin-starred meal at the Isle of Eriska Hotel near Oban

Dine in style with a Michelin-starred meal at the Isle of Eriska Hotel near Oban

Have tea among the tomes

Tell your hens to practise their pinky arching. The newly refurbished tea salon at The Signet Library on Edinburgh’s Royal Mail has afternoon tea down to a, well, T! Colonnades is a seriously swanky mix of traditional and modern. With some impressive pillars sitting alongside contemporary ghost chairs and plush seating, it would add a real sense of occasion to a pre-wedding get-together. The salon also boasts a tea sommelier, champagne experts, mixologists and a pastry chef, so you’ll be hard pushed to find a better place to feast on elegant bites such as gin-infused salmon, a signature Colonnades tartlet, sandwiches topped with quail eggs and caviar, delicate mille-feuille and mini lemon meringue tarts.

The Signet Library hosts a plush, quirky afternoon tea experience

The Signet Library hosts a plush, quirky afternoon tea experience

Sample Edinburgh’s finest
 gin

Unless you’ve been living in a vodka-induced haze for the last couple of years, you’ll have noticed the explosion of gins on the market. Summerhall Distillery is Edinburgh’s first gin distillery for more than 150 years and home to Pickering’s Gin. Up to 14 hens can get to see what goes on behind the scenes at a small-batch distillery during a private 45-minute tour. And, of course, there’s drinks to be had: a small sample of Pickering’s entire range washed down by two delicious gin cocktails made by an award-winning cocktail maker. We’ll drink to that! £20 per person.

Gin is the name of the game at Summerhall Distillery

Gin is the name of the game at Summerhall Distillery

Learn to write beautifully

Coerce your hens into learning a new skill that ultimately will mean your wedding invites will be the prettiest on the planet! Laura E. Patrick runs two-hour calligraphy classes at Cushion & Cake, a café in the west end of Glasgow, where she’ll guide you through the basics of modern calligraphy, including how to hold the pen, pen pressure and learning the modern alphabet. The £25 cost of the class includes a calligraphy kit (comprising a small pot of ink, Nikko G nib, penholder and paper) and a spot of one-on-one tuition if required. Keep your eyes on Laura’s website for details of classes as they are confirmed. The next one is 20th October.

Laura E. Patrick’s calligraphy class is a hen activity with a twist

Laura E. Patrick’s calligraphy class is a hen activity with a twist

Become a pop star

Who hasn’t wanted to be a pop star at some point in their life? The adulation, the riches, the marauding paparazzi. Have all of the fun without any of the pitfalls at Royal Mile Recording Experiences in Edinburgh where you’re invited to form your own girl band and live the life of a singer for a few hours, laying down two of your favourite tracks in a professional recording studio. The whole shebang can be photographed or filmed (depending on what package you opt for) and, at the end, every ‘band member’ will leave with a recording of their work and the party organiser will get the pics or video on DVD. Next stop, The X Factor! Prices from £25 to £40 per head.

Be a band for a day with the Royal Mile Recording Experience

Be a band for a day with the Royal Mile Recording Experience

Brew some beer

Want to earn some serious brownie points with a beer-loving hubby-to-be and his crew? Drygate in Glasgow’s east end runs a variety of brewing workshops where you can make your own beer. On the day of the brew you’ll have access to the whole kit and be involved in every stage of the brewing process with the brewer, from milling the malts, picking the hops and treating the water (prices from £200). If you’d rather just observe, it also offers tour and tasting packages where you can see the process and sample some of the wet stuff while you’re at it (£10 per person for groups of up to 20). Brewing is thirsty work, so after you’re done, retire to The Vintage at Drygate or the Brewhouse, where you can put your feet up and work your way through its craft beer menu while munching on food from the kitchen.

Drygate provides a chance to make your very own beer

Drygate provides a chance to make your very own beer

Put one foot in front of the other

Take a walk on the wild side with your nearest and dearest at Duchally Country Estate near Auchterarder. The Perthshire holiday haven’s 55 luxury lodges are surrounded by verdant parkland and picture-postcard scenery. So pull on those walking boots, round up your hens and head for the hills. Sma Glen, Glen Quaich and Glen Lyon – three of Scotland’s most spectacular walking areas – are all close to the resort, with no shortage of paths nearby for a more leisurely amble. If your boots are only made for strolling as far as the on-site hotel, then you’ll find an award-winning restaurant, the Glenfiddich Terrace for alfresco drinking in nice weather, a whisky bar and a leisure centre that will keep your gang in fine fettle come rain or shine.

Breathe in the fresh air at the Duchally Country Estate

Breathe in the fresh air at the Duchally Country Estate

Escape from a room

Hands up who remembers a Channel 4 television show from the 1990s called The Crystal Maze, which saw contestants locked in a room until they solved a puzzle? Fast forward two decades and Glasgow city centre now has its own real-life version of an escape game at The Room. There are three themed rooms (Identity, Spy and Mansion, with a fourth in the pipeline) that are locked on entry and a countdown timer set. Each has a set of story-based puzzles that the team must work together to solve within a timeframe of 60 or 90 minutes, the aim of the game being to find the key and ‘escape’! Mansion is the biggest room and best suited to hen or stag gatherings with up to 16 participants able to take part. The room is kitted out with pictures and things to do that are all part of solving the mystery. And don’t worry, there are always moderators on hand to help any teams that get stuck. Mansion room game, £150.

Puzzle-solving and team play make The Room a unique activity

Puzzle-solving and team play make The Room a unique activity

Have a pamper party

If pampering and prosecco are your dream duo, there’s a tranquil corner of Stirling that you’ll want to check out for your hen do – or should we say ‘hen don’t’, as relaxation is the name of the game at La Fortuna Lodges. The Party lodge, one of four wooden-fronted boltholes, is purpose-built for girlie weekends away with 10 single white leather beds, chic Italian furniture, 55” HD TV screen and private hot tub ready to make a splash in. Next door is another 10-bed lodge, Topaz (also with its own hot tub) and there are also two three-bedroom lodges if you want to upsize the number of at-hen-dees (ahem). The property owners can organise private chefs, butlers, limos, hairstylists and makeup artists and, most importantly, they’ve installed American fridge freezers with tons of room for chilling bottles of bubbly! See you in the hot tub…

La Fortuna Lodges offers a choice of four luxury properties, each with access to a hot tub!

La Fortuna Lodges offers a choice of four luxury properties, each with access to a hot tub!

Slope around

Have the coolest pre-wedding party around at Snow Factor in Braehead near Glasgow, where the daredevils in the group can ski, snowboard, ice climb, snow tube or sledge all under one roof. For bar hounds who would rather just chill, then you quite literally can at the new Baltic Ice Bar. There are four different packages for hens or stags, depending on your budget. ‘Sliders’ (£29.99 per head) includes sledging or snow tubing, one cocktail or German beer per person in Bar Varia, plus a Bavarian sharing platter. The top-ranking ‘All Rounder’ package (£59.99) includes a 1.5-hour skiing or snowboarding lesson or ice climbing taster, plus sledging or snow tubing in addition to the cocktail/beer and sharing platter.

Thrills and spills on Snow Factor’s artificial slopes

Thrills and spills on Snow Factor’s artificial slopes

Take it easy

Soak up the views of the Tweed Valley and contemplate your last few days of singledom on the south-facing balcony at Tweed Rig, a five-bedroom villa in the pretty village of Gattonside in the Scottish Borders. Set in its own one-acre woodland garden, it’s perfectly placed for a get-away-from-it-all gathering with your favourite set of ladies. Arm yourselves with your wine and nibbles, get comfy in the light and airy open-plan kitchen/dining/sitting room and spend the evening having a natter and a giggle. There’s a Playstation 2 and table tennis to get competitive over, or saunter into the nearby town of Melrose which is a great base for exploring the local area by bike or having a bite to eat.

La Fortuna Lodges offers a choice of four luxury properties, each with access to a hot tub!

La Fortuna Lodges offers a choice of four luxury properties, each with access to a hot tub!

Sew some bunting

A sore head and a few fuzzy photos are all a stereotypical hen party attendee has to show for the night out on the next morning. She clearly hasn’t been to a Sew Confident hen party. At this cute studio down The Hidden Lane in Finnieston, Glasgow, you’ll be able to get whizzy on the sewing machine whipping up wedding bunting, garters, sashes, tutus or veils. There’s also the option of hand-embroidering hanging hoops or hankies. Beginners needn’t worry as they’ll be taken step-by-step through the creative process. If your stitching is squint, you can console yourself with the afternoon tea served up after needles-down. Prices from £27.

Sew confident

Create a hen do keepsake with Sew Confident