Hen do activities in London
Afternoon tea is a staple hen party activity, but if dainty macarons and crustless sarnies are too schmaltzy, get cannibalistic with a Fried Chicken Afternoon Tea at Soho’s Ma’Plucker. Enjoy pulled chicken in brioche buns, chicken waffles, and chocolate cornflake scotch eggs, plus alcoholic iced tea, all for £18.50 per person.
Wine-tasting is another traditional hen event that can end up feeling a bit stuffy. So for a twist, The Sun Tavern stocks the world’s largest selection of poitín: a traditional Irish spirit that’s only been legal since 1997 and ranges in strength from 40 percent ABV to 90 percent ABV. Sample a range of tankard cocktails as you learn about the history of the drink, committing your liver to history as you go.
Celebrate the bride-to-be with a moggy-themed hen do. Kit out the squad with cat-ear headbands and collars, complete with ID tags engraved with their nicknames – a great customised souvenir. Next, slink on over to Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium to enjoy cream tea or decorate grown-up colouring-in books whilst surrounded by multitudes of tabbies and toms. Lady Dinah’s doesn’t accept bookings for more than six people, but you can hire the whole cat café for larger groups.
For drinks, head to The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town – a secret speakeasy accessed by clambering through a fridge door – or try an Astro Pussy cocktail at Kojawan, which is served in a ceramic maneki-neko: a ‘lucky waving cat’ mug. Alternatively, serve your own white russians from cat bowls with a sugar mouse on the side.
The next day you’ll all reek of alcohol, hairballs and feral musk, so see off the animal stench at a perfume-making class. Prices start from £35pp and include bubbly, 5ml of scent per guest and a 20ml glittering bottle for the bachelorette.
For a superb summertime shindig on a shoestring, host your own fun-sized festival.
Start at Islington’s Union Chapel,where every Saturday from midday until 2pm, their Daylight Music gigs cost absolutely zilch to attend (although donations of a fiver each are welcomed). Past performers have included everyone from Nils Frahm to Frank Sidebottom, plus there’s home-baked cake on offer.
Or, you could host a homemade Holi: buy disposable coveralls from a DIY shop (or ask folks to wear charity shop clobber they don’t mind getting trashed); equip each person with a tub of non-toxic powder paint, which is dirt cheap from wholesalers or educational stationery suppliers; then pelt each other with colour. Bring water pistols and water bombs to rinse off with afterwards.
For food, get everyone to pitch in to a picnic, and if you want to splash out on a posh tipple later on, head to a branch of Vagabond Wine. They have over 100 varieties of vino on tap with prices starting at less than £3 a glass.
Escape game challenges are the latest craze to hit London: teams are shut inside a theatre set-type space together, and have to uncover clues, complete brain teasers and interact with creepy characters in order to set themselves free. Lock’d is great for beginners, while the excellent Lady Chastity’s Reserve takes place in a pub, so you can get mildly intoxicated before you get incarcerated.
Alternatively, Red Herring will bring a murder mystery night to you, with two actors visiting your house/hotel room/hired space and staging a customised crime for you all to solve, or there’s Maman Le Mot: an ‘immersive dining experience’ set in 1943. Guests play secret agents tasked with spying on the French resistance (and are equipped with plenty of French plonk). Complete your bunker-based mission, and be rewarded with a three-course meal in a Moulin Rouge-inspired bistro.
Complete your day behind bars at the Courthouse Hotel. This former magistrates’ court where the Krays were once detained still has three of its original prison cells, now converted into private booths. Cordon off your own VIP area with police tape and don't forget to sprawl on the floor, outlined in chalk for a group snap.
There are a multitude of ‘crafternoon’ hen workshops available in London, where you can learn to make everything from whimsical flower crowns to origami bridal bouquets to nipple tassels in the shape of pugs’ heads.
Check out Graffik Gallery’s two-hour graffiti class – at £42 per person, it won’t break the Banksy. Street artists tutor you on how to handle a spray can and stencils to create canvases you can take home.
For more of a fantasy feel, book a three-hour mermaid make-a-thon with Betty’s Birds. Every guest will finish up having fashioned themselves a shimmering shell bra and a glittery mermaid tail for £37.50 per person. They also offer a unicorn workshop, where they’ll help you build horned headdresses, fairytale tails and furry hooves.
If your guests are travelling from outside the capital – or even if you’re all London born and bred - these offbeat tours (both £10pp) are a great choice. Bullshit London offer comical guided walks telling hilarious lies about each place. Or there's the London Loo Tour, take a stroll around some of the city’s most noteworthy toilets while learning about plumbing and poops.
Not up your group’s street? Try floating the idea of a kayak tour along the Regent's Canal.
If you’re prepared to travel just a whisper away from the city, the Churches Conservation Trust offers ‘champing’ in Kent: camping in a chapel from £50 per person. The bride-to-be can even practise her walk to the altar.As you won't be sleeping until the early hours, call on Hoxton erotic emporium Sh!, which offers travelling soirees; from £15 each you can book an expert to come and tutor you on topics including spanking, strap-on sex or bondage. Thre's also Hens With Pens – a mobile life-drawing service who’ll rock up with an art teacher; paper, pencils, fun French berets and stick-on moustaches for guests; plus a hot naked man to sketch.
If the soon-to-be-Mrs is a keen gourmand, an Asian cookery class focused on dim sum, takeaway classics, or sushi at School of Wok could be a good bet.
For something sweeter, take a look at Spun Candy’s party packages from £30 per person. They’ll help you whip up personalised rock, lollies and other sweeties that can be served as favours at the wedding.
Want a high-adrenaline, hyperactive hen do? Kick your weekend off with a couple of hours of ice karting: it’s a bit like tobogganing combined with go-kart racing, from £60 per person.
Next, monkey around at Go Ape!: an assault-course based in Battersea Park, where you’re challenged to clamber along sky-high tree-top canopies, balance on log bridges and zoom down zipwires for £33 per person.
Slice Studios in Parsons Green offers private ‘rebounding’ sessions for hens: workout classes on individual miniature trampolines. Up the ante by asking every guest to buy the most excruciatingly awful secondhand bridesmaids’ frocks they can find and get springing.
Come Sunday, bag yourselves Boris bikes (attach a veil and tiara to the bride’s cycling helmet), and pedal over to Bounce’s Bottomless Brunch where, for £25 each, you get unlimited prosecco, pizza and ping pong. Some games are played under UV light, so the place is basically full of glowing balls catapulting around in the dark.
If you want a classic cheeky hen night of willy straws, L-plates and male strippers then the muscled hunks in trunks at Adonis Cabaret have you sorted.
However, if you desire an evening that’s still sexy but without the sleaze, check out 23 Paul Street, the luxury strip club for ‘discerning rascals’. Their ‘L’Act Final’ bachelorette bash includes a hidden games room, riddles, cocktails and an expert striptease lesson before meeting a suited-and-booted ‘English gentleman’ with a briefcase full of surprises.
Designed to be ‘reassuringly expensive’, the two-hour experience finishes with a private DJ set and costs around £150 per head.
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