After a year of planning, I am thrilled to report that my sister’s hen weekend went without a hitch! She had known absolutely nothing about the weekend and so it all came as a great surprise to reveal the different surprises that had been planned.
We caught the train to Manchester and stayed in the amazing Stay City Apartments which is less than a minute from the station! The apartments were gorgeous – light and airy with all the commodities you could need for a short or longer stay including washing machine and dishwasher! The grey and yellow décor was really stylish, beds were sooooooo comfortable (and apparently supplied by the same company who supplies the queens bed – if its good enough for Liz, its good enough for us!) Staff were great and there was an option for breakfast although I cooked for the hens easily enough on both mornings.
I booked through booking.com and am eternally grateful as I realised that the first apartments I had booked for the 21 of us over a year ago were for the wedding date not the hen weekend!! Thankfully, their cancellation policy meant that I didn’t lose the £1300 and I was able to rebook Stay City – Check out my review of booking.com and get £25 of your next reservation with them!
After checking in to the apartments we nipped to the Alchemist for lunch and some incredible cocktails – I would recommend the lightbulb moment which arrived bellowing out the smoke from dry ice and tasted as impressive as it looked! It’s worth signing up to their email scheme as you get 20% of bookings and every little helps.
My sister looked amazing as we headed out to Tiger Tiger for our cocktail making class. Its just a shame that we had to get her changed! She’s grown up loving Ariel the Mermaid so there was never any doubt that’s what I’d be dressing her as! Singing the soundtrack of Disneys The Little Mermaid on the number 1 free bus around Manchester was just magical (maybe not for the other passengers!) Haha.
The cocktail making class with Chantelle and Liz was just brilliant although the relay race competition to make a long island iced tea tipped a few of us over the edge! We followed this with a visit to the karaoke booths where we all sounded like X-Factor contestants (you know the first stage of auditions where everyone is shite – like that!) The videos the next day made our ears bleed but it was a brilliant night and I’d definitely recommend a visit to Tiger Tiger as there was so much to do under one roof that we didn’t have to go anywhere else.
Lunch on the Saturday was at the Slug and Lettuce where more hens joined us! The staff were brilliant in dressing a table for Emily and supplying us with some lush prosecco! Again, it was super close to the apartments, food was great and it’s right opposite Primark – what’s not to love!
Following lunch, we played some party games – Mr and Mrs where I had recorded the groom-to-be reading and answering the questions which was hilarious, a quiz to guess whether the name I gave belonged to a nail varnish or a porn film (I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that my Mum got nearly all of them right! * shudders *) and I handed out some plain white knickers and markers for people to decorate anonymously so that Emily could judge them.
Saturday evening we all dressed in 1920’s costumes as Emily loves that era and headed to Artisan for a meal. What Emily didn’t know was that we would be taking part in a murder mystery once we were there! The Gin and Sin experience organised by Manchester Murder Mysteries was brilliant and a really fun but chilled evening compared to the vocal chord ruination of the Friday evening.
Sunday morning was our final breakfast of bacon and sausage sandwiches which I was able to cook easily enough with the great facilities and Sainsburys express on the doorstep and before we knew it the weekend was over!
21 ladies, 12 months of planning, 2 days for 1 hen and it all went brilliantly! Massive thanks to everyone who came and created such a memorable experience for my sister!
So, my top 9 tips for organising a city hen weekend break would be…
- Plan as early as possible to spread the cost and get cheaper transport costs
- Book with booking.com so you can cancel or amend your reservation if you need to
- Set up a secret Facebook group to share info and ask questions – polls are a great way of finding out what people want / think.
- Consider what the Hen likes, not what YOU think will be fun – if she’s said no stripper then she won’t thank you for an evening of squirty cream and a frankfurter to the face.
- Create an itinerary so people joining you at different points know where you will be but don’t be military about it!
- Even if a restaurant doesn’t insist on a pre-order, take one anyway- It will speed up the evening and if you take payment in advance off everyone too then it means on the night, people only need spending money which is one of the things that the hens on our night loved.
- Check with places if you’re planning on hitting the bars wearing fancy dress. Some places are strict when it comes to a dress code and others will recommend you book a table even just for drinks but that means you know you will have somewhere to congregate together.
- Record Mr and Mrs on the iPad – My friend Sophie recommended this from when she saw it and I have to say it worked so much better than just reading the questions out myself. I also connected the iPad to a speaker through Bluetooth so everyone could hear the grooms answers even if they couldn’t quite see him.
- If the hen knows nothing at all then add some red herrings to the packing list. I told my sister to pack a warm hoodie and a pair of really bright knickers which totally confused (and possibly worried) her!
I hope that helped! If you’re still at a total loss then drop me a line – I am available for a small fee for hen parties, weddings, birthdays and bar mitzvahs !