The Handbook
The Handbook

The hen party is a right of package in many women’s lives but if you’re not down with the strippers, the L plates and the phallic-shaped straws, we’ve got your back. Here are seven classy ways to plan and celebrate your next hen do, from socially distanced options to activities and stylish dining options.

Sexy Fish Private Dining Room
Blanchette Private Dining Room

Book A Private Dining Room

We all know things can get a little raucous on a hen party so if you’re looking for a more intimate setting than a restaurant full of other punters, err on the side of caution and book into one of London’s top private dining rooms.

So many of the capital’s top restaurants, whether you’re after something simple or blow the budget, have private dining areas.

Some of our favourites include: Gymkhana’s cosy vaults for Michelin-starred Indian fare, the cute basement stable at the Riding House Café for smaller parties, Sexy Fish’s plush room complete with London’s biggest tropical fish tank (Insta ops a plenty).

For a understated hen, the Mall Tavern pub in Notting Hill have cosy space beneath the pub that they are pretty relaxed about you decorating and the chefs perform an epic dessert-come-theatre over the dining table at the end of the meal – we’ve tried it and would highly recommend.

Or go glam with Sky Garden’s private dining area if you fancy sipping Champagne as your watch the sunset over London.

Soho’s Blanchette restaurant also has a gorgeous private dining room with botanical-themed wallpaper, cosy banquette seating and glamorous chandeliers hanging overhead.

Sky Garden Private Dining
Riding House Cafe Private Dining Room

Organise A Wine Workshop

For hens who are keen on sticking to a low-key affair post-COVID, The Wine Workshop adheres to all the social distancing guidelines still in place plus heaps of fun.

The online platform brings together food, wine and learning and they have launched a special Hen Do Package bringing the joys of wine tasting to brides and her crew digitally. Groups of six can book in and will receive a selection of wines delivered to the door with a live tasting held by an expert over Zoom.

Experts include the likes of Jane Parkinson, a regular on Saturday Kitchen, Douglas Blyde from ES Magazine and Master of Wine, Nancy Gilchrist.

Time to put all that lockdown Zoom party practice to good use.

Host A Garden Party

Life may be going back to normal with restaurants and bars reopening, but take in to consideration that some guests may still feel uncomfortable in certain social situations and larger groups. The most important thing is that the hen has all her friends in one place and a garden party is the perfect way to accommodate.

Everything from cocktails to canapés and party decorations can be taken care of without you having to even open the front door.

Drinks

For cocktails, we love Coxtails – the mobile bar hire that know everything from an Aviation to a Whiskey Sour and everything in-between. Work with the bartenders to come up with a few cocktails to serve on the day, choosing the hen’s favourite tipple or creating one inspired by the bride-to-be herself.

Social Pantry

Nibbles

Leave the cooking to the experts and get help. London-based catering company Social Pantry are one of our favourites, with a dedication to seasonal and British produce where possible, they create some of the most colourful and delicious tablescapes we’ve ever seen.

Grazing platters are another great option and the best way to throw a party when you’re in a rush. Check out GRAPE & Fig for their creations that come in simple square designs or bespoke shapes and letters and are full to bursting with fruit, cheeses, cured meats, crudites, figs and more.

Or look to backing singer-turned-cool caterer Sherina White AKA the Gourmet Dinner Lady, who makes grazing platters for the music, film and fashion industry. Choose from a huge range to suit your needs, the look you want and dietary requirements.

Party Decorations

Check out Knot and Pop for all things hen and wedding but done with taste – no willy straws and hats here. If you have a vision of what your party should look like but don’t have the props or the budget, they will take care of everything, from candles to vases, photo areas to garden furniture.

For some seriously Instagrammable backdrops, check out Dream Boat Balloons who will make huge balloon displays, arches or just fill up a party room with the things, in the most glorious rainbow-hued or sweet pastel shades.

And for inspiration, there are a wealth of Instagram accounts dedicated to the tablescape.

 

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Influencer and Co-Founder of FashMash, Rosanna Falconer is a whiz at whipping up the most colourful table in minutes – her unique eye for colour and texture and her way with a napkin is worth a scroll alone. As well as Alice Naylor-Leyland, who’s a dab hand when it comes to putting on a party. Her charming table laying skills will inspire a country-style, chintzy affair and you can shop her creations with premade packages that include the most gorgeous matchy-matchy pieces, from crockery to tablecloths, placemats to candleholders.

Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley

Satisfy Their Sweet Tooth

Hen parties and sweet treats go hand in hand, so book your gang in for one of the capital’s many filling-inducing offerings.

Keep it classic with an afternoon tea – great if the bride-to-be has invited her mum and aunties – and there’s one for every taste, from the gin-inspired to a real life Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at The Sanderson and The Berkeley’s ultra stylish Prêt-à-Portea, inspired by some of the world’s greatest fashion houses and iconic pieces.

Check out our section dedicated to all things Afternoon Tea here.

If you’d rather get your hands dirty yourself, there are plenty of baking workshops to book in to. The Big London Bake in Tooting gives wannabe Mary Berrys the chance to take part in a 90-minute competition to out bake your friends. They provide the instructions, tools and tips, you just need to get messy and compete to take the coveted spot of star baker – and yes, it all takes place in a giant marquee just like the real thing.

Or book into Oh La La’s Macaron & Martini Hen Experience – to teach your set how to make the sweet French delights and have something to take home with after.

Book A Brunch

If you’re limited with time and you only have guests coming for the day, book into one of London’s best bottomless brunches.

Now that restaurants are reopening, there is a host of new brunch menus we can’t wait to sink our teeth into, from The Sunday Feast at The Ned (also a great hangover cure) to Ella Canta’s modern take on Mexican and plenty of sinkable margaritas, check out our round-up of the best ones to book now.

Check out The Handbook’s favourite Best Boozy Brunches now reopened here. 

Ella Canta

 

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Pamper Everyone

A pamper session is a no brainer when it comes to hen dos and while you still can’t get treatments done on the face (come on, Boris!) there are plenty of options to treat your hens to some R&R.

Check out our edit of London’s most glorious spas – we’ve got a soft spot for Agua at Sea Containers and the quirky décor at Ham Yard, or keep things simple and book the crew in for a quick mani at one of the capital’s coolest nail bars. 

Organise An Activity

We’re not ones to promote organised fun but that’s kind of what a hen do is, so plan ahead, have an agenda and have an activity up your sleeve to keep those eager hens happy.

There’s something for everyone, from escape rooms and murder mysteries – check out our list here or look at booking the group into Chillisauce, London’s number one murder mystery company who out on dedicated hen and stag packages.

Get active and a little cold with some paddle board action on the Thames or indulge our inner geek and get to see some of the city at the same time with the In The Hidden City games.

The treasure hunt-style experience takes you on a journey across the city, solving a trail of clues on your phone, each one leading to the next. You’ll uncover museums, galleries, secret location and most importantly, pubs, with built-in food and drinks break points.

Weather permitting, it’s a great activity for the curious if you don’t mind clocking up your steps.

Grace & Thorn

Or take a more chill approach and book the group into Grace & Thorn, one of London’s most celebrated florists for one of their bespoke workshops. Learn how to arrange with skill, style dried flowers or make a terrarium.