Stags and Hens go large

A night in the pub with a few friends just doesn't cut it any more. Will Hide provides the lowdown on some great escapes that should be as memorable as the big day itself

What's the attraction?

"Just a few pints down the local." Not that long ago a stag night was just that – your friends buying a few rounds before the big day. Then some adventurous souls decided to make a weekend of it, to Dublin or Amsterdam, and then, as communism collapsed and Michael O'Leary rose, to Prague and Krakow. As far back the 5th century BC Spartans toasted comrades who were about to be wed. Now it's estimated that 80 per cent of those tying the knot have a pre-wedding celebration: stag and hen dos of course – and now "hag" weekends for those who don't want to exclude friends of the opposite sex.

The active option

If you'd rather not be stuck in a pub, the Preseli Venture Eco Lodge (01348 837709; in Pembrokeshire can arrange a weekend of coasteering, sea kayaking, hiking and surfing for groups of four to 40. The price of £229 for two nights' accommodation includes meals but not alcohol.

More into yoga than pink cowgirl hats? Canopy and Stars (01275 395 447; has a "Babes in the Woods" champagne camping weekend in Devon for 10-20 hens. A one-night all-inclusive package (except alcohol) costs from £195 per person.


Cheap and cheerful

For a quiet getaway, the Craigellachie hotel in Speyside (0844 414 6526; has a two-night, whisky-tasting break. Settle in with a few drams in the Quaich bar with its 750 single malts. The next morning there's clay-pigeon shooting and quad biking before you visit a range of distilleries. The two-night dinner, bed and breakfast package costs from £190pp. If the Only Way is Essex, Red Seven Leisure (0800 970 2744; offers two nights' room only in Brentwood. The price of £157pp also includes a spray-tan and entry to Sugar Hut and Faces, from the TV series.


Vegas, baby

Las Vegas is perhaps the only place where you could successfully have a stag or hen do, wedding and honeymoon all in the same week, with a divorce thrown in for good measure. However, there's more to Sin City than putting it all on red. The Grand Canyon is within driving distance, there is fantastic food on offer and flirting by the pool is always free. Travel City Direct (0844 557 6965; offers a week room only at the Riviera hotel with Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick for £699 per person; groups of 10 or more get nightclub passes.


Lie back and think of England

Who says pampering just has to be for the girls? Well-behaved stags could enjoy a 75-minute bubbling mud and hot stone treatment at the Feversham Arms hotel (01439 772930; in Helmsley, North Yorkshire for £110. If, on the other hand, you're a woman who wants nothing more than to lounge around in a dressing gown all weekend, breaking a sweat only for an intense pedicure and a post-lunch poach in the hot tub, Champneys Tring (0843 316 2222; in Hertfordshire has half-board rates from £169 per person with treatments from £30.


The cultured option

Try a champagne weekend in Reims, where Grape Escapes (0845 643 0860; grapeescapes. net) has a two-night B&B break at the Hotel de la Paix for £489pp. Also included are Eurostar tickets and transfers, tastings at Moët & Chandon and elsewhere, a three-course dinner, spa visit and the chance to buy fizz and even have labels personalised.

Gentlemen can whip their culinary repertoire into shape at Lucy Cooks (01539 822 507; in Cumbria. Courses for stags start at £35; there's even a brewery next door, which offers tours.


Budget-airline destinations

First stop for anyone considering a stag event in Eastern Europe should be the travel guide It gives the low-down on cities from Druskininkai to Veliky Novgorod. Belgrade in Serbia ( is a top pick. Wizzair (0906 959 0002; flies there from Luton. Or consider Wroclaw in Poland ( It's Krakow minus the crowds; Ryanair (0871 246 0000; flies there from Stansted, or Wizzair from Luton and Doncaster. Ladies could hop on Ryanair, easyJet (0843 104 5000; or Monarch (0871 9405 040; for a weekend in Ibiza.


Who said that?

"Let's have a bachelor party with chicks and guns and fire trucks and hookers and drugs and booze!" – From the 1984 film Bachelor Party starring Tom Hanks

"A man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then he's finished." – Zsa Zsa Gabor

"Marriage is a gamble, let's be honest." – Yoko Ono


Stay local

In Newcastle you can learn how to handle six-wheel-drive cranes. One of your tasks is to lift the groom-to-be 20ft, rotate the crane and then make him abseil to the ground. Stagweb (0845 130 5225; offers the option from £115 per person in a group of 12, including B&B accommodation and nightclub entrance. More than 120 hotels and 30 guesthouses welcome stag and hen parties in Blackpool (01253 478222;

Life drawing classes are available from Hen Heaven (01273 225 075; in several cities including Leeds, Bournemouth, Nottingham or Norwich from £29 per person.

If you want a base for a party in Edinburgh, take over an entire hostel. Haggis Hostel (0131 557 0036; is near Princes Street and accommodates up to 34 people for £25 per person.

Get a group of friends together in Cardiff to design your own bespoke perfume. GoHen (0845 130 5225; can fix it from £135 per person if there are 12 of you. The price includes accommodation at the Radisson Blu hotel and nightclub entrance.


Insider information

"If you have an accident on your stag do after 10 pints of lager, you should expect that your insurance claim will be refused. Some good advice: stay away from balconies and swimming pools at night, and leave your phone and wallet locked away." – Greg Lawson, Head of Retail, Columbus Direct Insurance

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London