Cluck cluck: Tale of a London hen weekend
Along with Brighton and Blackpool, London is a popular hen weekend destination for many Brit brides-to-be. However, when you already live in London, insider knowledge pays off and brings hens to less hen populated party destinations. On the hens I’ve been on previously, if you run into another hen party, sometimes there appears to be a bit of rivalry – who will be the loudest or more fabulous group… Come on girls, what happened to sisterhood!
Anyway, this year, I had been tasked with organising two different hen parties, both challenging in their own ways. One was in post-Christmas expenditure January so trying to keep things in budget, while the second one in July, involved three different events.
The January hen night took place at the Medieval Banquet in St Katherine’s Docks near Tower Bridge. The extravaganza, which lasts several hours, involves a banquet (well, obviously), entertainment, dressing up, dancing and drinking (of course). The entertainment included singing olde songs, acrobatics, Medieval dancing and sword-fights. Tickets cost £49.95 for adults and include all food and the drink served at the table, but there are discounts for group bookings or through National Rail discounts.
The banquet is set is an arched basement (don’t worry, it’s very roomy) with the long tables in each alcove. There are opportunities to rent costumes or buy a jester’s hat if you want to get into the medieval spirit. For the next few hours, we were entertained in between three courses, which were presented by serving wenches. After the medieval fun is over, we fast forward to modern day with pop classics from across the years played during the ‘disco’ at the end. Although personally myself (pescatarian) and the other vegetarian found the non-meat option quite disappointing, my carnivore hens said their meals were nice enough. However, while the food wasn’t up to my expectations, the entertainment was very good and it was nice to do something different for a Saturday night out.
Dinner @ Terra, Fitzrovia
The July hen was a lot more complicated to organise, with trying to work out who was coming to all three events, or just one. We decided the Friday night dinner would be the ‘calmer’ night, as we didn’t want to be struggling on the Saturday with hangovers. After trailing through TopTable for restaurants who did large group bookings, I settled on Terra, a Mediterranean restaurant in Fitzrovia. Prior to arrival, the staff were incredibly helpful as my booking numbers kept changing. We ended up having a table for 14 on the light, airy ground floor. The menu was extensive and there was something for everyone, regardless of diet or allergies. I am a huge fan of lobster, but don’t get to eat it often due to the price. However, Terra had a half-lobster with tagliatelle for £16.95 so I opted for that and was very tasty. One friend ate salmon and prawn risotto and said it was sumptuous. The service was very good and the music was quiet enough so we could hear each other talking.
The highlight of the hen weekend had to be the Pedibus daytime activity. Trying to explain a Pedibus is difficult, but it’s basically like a bus powered by peddlers. It seats up eight cyclists, with another four can relax in the middle. Pedibus provides two staff members – one to steer it and the other to serve drinks. Yes, you can drink alcohol on board! Our party opted for Marks & Spencer’s cocktails in a can – currently on sale for about £2 – which certainly got us in the party mood. We picked up the Pedibus at Borough High Street and started our trip by cycling UP London Bridge. It was a tough start to get the Pedibus up the hill and attracted quite a lot of attention from the bustling area outside London Bridge and Borough Market. Our trip was a 60-90 minute tour around the City Of London (but they also offer other routes), going over London Bridge, near the Tower Of London, with sights include the Gherkin (Swiss Re Tower) and the Monument on the way. Fortunately the weather was lovely and sunny while we did the Pedibus, but the company’s website say they have sheltered options if the weather isn’t quite so kind. After the tour ended, all the hens were sweaty, tired and rather tipsy, but had spent most of the tour laughing and everyone agreed it was a brilliant activity.
Dinner, drinks and dancing at Salvador & Amanda
The last event of the hen was dinner, drinks and dancing at Salvador & Amanda in the West End (near Covent Garden or Leicester Square). The large venue features a Tapas restaurant, bar and dancefloor so we chose it for the ease of eating and drinking in the same area. As hen nights are expensive, the group menu was pretty reasonably priced and attentive staff made sure we were kept well stocked with Sangria and other drinks. The dancefloor didn’t really get going until after pub’s kicking out time but played a mix of chart hits and dancefloor classics. As the bride was a fan of Ibiza, the choice of venue suited our ‘Ibiza theme’, which I accessorised with pink feather boas, sequinned cowboy hats (!) and glow sticks – all bought from the £1 shop!
My tips for organising a London hen
- Don’t spend a fortune on accessories. Check out the £1 or 99p store. For sashes, L plates and veils, Hen Night HQ have a lot of choice, fast and FREE delivery too.
- Check out TopTable for find which restaurants do large group bookings. Also reviews can tell you if its going to be decent food and service.
- There’s such a large choice of activities you can choose, including nude male drawing classes, the Pedibus, cocktail-making, etc. Visit Freedom Ltd for ideas and opportunities to book.
- If you’re having to put down money to guarantee bookings or numbers, don’t be afraid to make it clear to the hens who have agreed to attend. You shouldn’t have to be out of pocket if someone cancels last minute.
- Have some games prepared to play. This website has a host of ideas. We played Mr & Mrs (without the Mr, we asked the groom some questions for the bride to guess his answer) and also got everyone to write marriage advice with the bride guessing who wrote what.
- Make sure to embarrass the bride-to-be… if only a little bit. If she’s got a sense of humour, she’ll be fair game.
- Accept its going to be an expensive night. Withdraw more money than normal and if you’re left with any at the end of the night, it will be a pleasant bonus. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime night out for the bride (fingers crossed!) so try to widen your budget.
For a vintage-themed hen do, read Metro Girl’s blog post on a 1950s-themed hen at the Rivoli Ballroom: Rock ‘n’ rollin’ at the Rivoli: Jive Party at a 1950s ballroom.
Or if you fancy a 1920s-themed night out, check out Metro Girl’s review of the Candlelight Club, or for a list of 1920s venues, read Go back to the roaring ’20s with these Great Gatsby-inspired days and nights out.