From stunning beaches in the Algarve to never-ending shopping opportunities in New York, read on for the best hen destinations.
Organising guest lists, colour schemes and seating plans can be stressful for even the most organised of brides. Cue the hen party – the perfect excuse to let your hair down before wedding bells and white veils. For the ultimate hen do, grab your bridesmaids, pack your highest heels and jet off somewhere divine. We’ve handpicked five top destinations that are all easily accessible from the UK:
Valetta, Malta (pictured above)
If you’re looking for a heady mix of cultural exploration and beach relaxation, then head to the Mediterranean island of Malta. Valetta, the capital, was awarded world heritage status by UNESCO and is bursting with grand Baroque style architecture, stunning cathedrals and magnificent museums. Marsamxett Harbour and the Grand Harbour are both stunning locations for you and your girlfriends to gaze out over the brightly coloured Luzzu fishing boats. Plan a trip to St John’s Co-Cathedral, it is visually magnificent inside and out. After a day of sightseeing, head to the Fortina Spa Resort for a pamper day and chose from an extensive list of 300 treatments. To top up those tans, the beautiful Golden Bay Beach is ideal; sandy, quiet and far from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.
Delicious dining at: Restaurant Rubino, established in 1906, is located next to the Monoel Theatre in Valetta. Order the traditional Maltese dish, rabbit stew – it is divine!
Dance at: Being so suave, sophisticated and classy can really take its toll, so you’ll need at least one big night out to get glammed up and strut your stuff! Paceville in St. Julian’s is home to a number of chic clubs, playing the latest tunes until 4am. Level 22 is a penthouse club on the top of the Portomaso Tower – take your cameras for some great pictures.
Stay at: Whichever resort you choose to stay in, remember Malta is a small island, so it is easy to explore many resorts by hiring a car or using public transport. Click here to check out some great hotels in Malta with lowcostholidays.com.
Bring home: Visit the glass factory at Ta’ Qali Crafts Village in Mdina, to watch glass blowing and purchase a small household item for your Mr and Mrs abode.
Best for: Cultural chicks and sightseeing lovers after eclectic cuisine and classy clubbing.
The New York skyline never gets old
New York, USA
New York City is the ultimate city break to share with your girlfriends. With excellent shopping facilities, great evening entertainment and world famous sites to see, Manhattan is the ultimate playground for hens. First thing to do when you arrive is to go straight up the Empire State Building. It’s the tallest skyscraper in the city, so you can enjoy spectacular views. Look north and you will see Central Park and the Rockefeller centre, or squint south and you’ll get a glimpse of the famous Statue of Liberty. After getting through all the important tourist sites, it’s time to do what a girl does best… shop! Strut down Fifth Avenue in a fabulous pair of shoes as though you are in Sex and The City, before heading into the designer boutiques, whether it’s for a serious splurge or a touch of window shopping. Dare you get your wedding dress from Vera Wang? For clothing a little more affordable, try Bloomingdales or Macy’s.
Delicious dining at: The Stardust Diner is located on Broadway and is well known for providing more than just sumptuous dishes for its guests. This 1950s diner is famous for its singing waiting staff. So as you tuck into your evening meal, look out for your waiter taking centre stage as he belts out some the world’s most famous show tunes.
Dance at: For a sophisticated start, head to the rooftop View Bar in Times Square, which revolves slowly, giving you an amazing panoramic view of the city. After you’ve enjoyed a few cocktails and admired the views, it’s time to head downtown for a night on the town. The Alibi night club in Soho stays open until 4am every night.
Stay at: The best place to stay in New York for a party weekend is around Times Square, this gives you a central location when wanting to explore. The Paramount Hotel is just one block from Times Square and close to Broadway, as well as the Rockefeller centre.
Bring home: If funds allow, then a handbag from Donna Karan New York would be the ideal souvenir. However, so you can truly say ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt,’ buy an “I love New York” top, it will put a smile on your face every time you wear it.
Best for: Chic shopaholic hens, who love the thrill of being in a big city and who can’t resist a cocktail… or five.
Unwind with your friends in Marrakech
This luxurious resort will offer hens an ideal combination of culture and total relaxation. The weather is warm almost all year, so if you’re planning a winter wedding, you’re still guaranteed sunshine. Marrakech is famous for its street markets; head to the city Souks and barter with local merchants on a range of handcrafted goods, rugs and sandals. Although the markets will provide you with a great insight into Moroccan culture, the stylish spas are the perfect way to spend the day whilst on your hen weekend. The Les Bains de Marrakech, will leave you feeling totally relaxed in preparation for your big day. After your facial and body massage, you may want to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing before exploring the enchanting boutiques. The famous Koutoubia Mosque and the gardens at the Bahia Palace are just some of the great landmarks to see on your hen party getaway.
Delicious dining at: Enjoy herb-stuffed fish, lamb with almonds and a wide variety of scrumptious salads and tantalising tagines. The Pepe Nero Restaurant is beautifully decorated and ideal for celebrations. With a stunning outdoor area too, you can dine with your best girlfriends in a setting you simply can’t find in the UK.
Dance at: Whilst Marrakech isn’t known for its typical party scene, belly dancing is very popular. The best place to watch live belly dancing would be the Comptoir. Chill out with a shisha pipe and watch the exotic entertainment – who knows, they make ask for audience participation.
Stay at: If you know you’re going to be soaking up the culture from the town, then the Hicham Hotel is located right in the centre and is surrounded by excellent restaurants. However, for hens that fancy some pampering, the Adam Park Hotel & Spa is located downtown and guarantees a luxury experience.
Bring home: Decorate the marital home with an Arabian theme, in the markets you’ll find a great variety of dainty Moroccan tea sets and wall-hangings to remind you of your hen party adventure.
Best for: Adventurous hens, tagine lovers and market explorers after a touch of rest and relaxation.
The views in Funchal are stunning
Madeira is located just north of Africa, so you’re guaranteed excellent weather all year round. Explore the mountains, surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque scenery, as you cleanse your mind, body and soul with a yoga class. After a delectable seafood lunch – with cocktails of course – why not make your way down to the harbour and book yourself into a whale watching boat tour? The humpback whale is the most common mammal to spot as you cruise the Atlantic waters. There are plenty of boat tours which run out of the main harbour and can cost as little as €20 per person. The Dolce Vita shopping mall needs to be on your to-do list, if you fancy an afternoon ambling amongst trendy boutiques. There‘s also an excellent sushi restaurant in the mall; perfect for a light snack. The Praia Formosa beach is the ideal place to relax and soak up the rays; this stunning coved beach is just a short taxi ride from the centre of Funchal.
Delicious dining at: Push the boat out and head to the Le Jardin restaurant in Funchal’s old town quarter, where the inside is decorated to look like a garden. If you fancy dining under the stars, then reserve a table on the charming terrace out the front. Enjoy succulent tuna steak, lobster and swordfish, as well as delicious crepes for dessert.
Dance at: The harbour is the place to go for a special night out on the town. Start your night in the FX Bar and enjoy a few cheeky shots, before heading to Chameleon, which stays open until 4am. However, if you and the girls are taking it to the next level and have a night of fancy dress planned, the Copacabana under the casino is ideal.
Stay at: Hotels in Funchal offer beautiful views of the coast, or of stunning mountainous landscapes. Funchal doesn’t normally attract rowdy groups, so you can enjoy the swimming pool in peace.
Bring home: As you may discover during your stay, Madeira is famous for its fortified wine. Take home a bottle of Madeira to relive your hen party memories when you’re back home.
Best for: Hens that crave tranquillity in a picturesque setting, combined with fine dining and authentic night-time entertainment.
Albufeira has something for everyone
Albufeira boasts beautiful blue flag beaches, fantastic restaurants and nightlife to rival Ibiza – a perfect destination for an excitable bride-to-be. The Praia Dos Aveiros is a small secluded beach, complete with a restaurant serving ice cold beverages all day; a great spot to set up base and watch the inside of your eyelids. If the strenuous task of soaking up the sun takes its toll, wander along to the Praia da Oura for water sports; hire a jet ski or try paragliding and enjoy fantastic views of the coast. For a fun group activity, make your way to the Taverna Pegasus on the Estrada de Sta Eulalia for cocktail making classes, where you can learn how to make (and drink) a Sex on The Beach, Long Sloe Screw or a Multiple Orgasm!
Delicious dining at: The Cabana Fresca Restaurant is on the waterfront in the Old Town, offering great sea views. Choose from a selection of king prawns, traditional grilled sardines or Paella.
Dance at: For a wild night, start at Matts’ Bar on the main strip, locally known as Avenida Sà Carneiro, before heading to Kiss Club to dance until the early hours.
Stay at: There is a wide selection of hotels in Albufeira within walking distance of both the strip and the Old Town. Check out the Clube Praia da Oura Aparthotel, situated directly on the beach.
Bring home: In the old town on the Rua Candido dos Reis road you will find a shop called Peclor, which sells beautiful fashion accessories made from cork wood. Treat yourself to a gorgeous hand bag and why not buy your fiancé a unique wallet or belt as an early wedding present?
Best for: Beach beauties, sumptuous seafood fans and Portuguese rosé lovers who enjoy the occasional tequila shot and Beyoncé bop.