Whether you’re hoping for a classy spa break or a raucous weekend with the girls, the Regency town of Cheltenham offers a stylish base for hen dos.
With Cheltenham’s abundance of restaurants, vibrant night life, first-class shopping and activities galore, there is something to suit hen parties of all types.
We’ve given chief bridesmaids a helping hand and created SoGlosWeddings’ ultimate Cheltenham hen do guide – giving you all the more time to plan the thoughtful little touches for the pre-wedding celebrations.
Cheltenham offers accommodation options for all sizes of hen party and caters for pretty much every budget. If you want to keep costs down, Holiday Inn Express and The Big Sleep offer good value for money, with both situated in the centre of town and within easy reach of the attractions.
For more luxury hotel options check out Malmaison and Hotel du Vin in town, while Ellenborough Park, the only five-star hotel in Gloucestershire, makes a decadent bolthole especially if you want to stay out of town.
For those looking to stay in a beautiful period property, The Montpellier Town House, located in the chic Montpellier part of town, sleeps nine in the grade II-listed Regency building. The owners can arrange for a private chef, cookery classes, beauty treatments and more, during your stay.
For larger groups, Longworth Villa, handily located near Cheltenham Spa train station, sleeps 16 and with its sumptuous décor, spacious rooms, waitress-served in-house catering and outdoor hot tub, it’s the ultimate luxury hen party venue.
See soglos.com/hotels/cheltenham/venues to discover more about the places to stay, along with a host of other choices.
Having some activities to entertain and bring the group together are a key part of the fun for hen dos and Cheltenham offers an array of options, whether you want an action-packed agenda or a more relaxed experience.
For outdoors enthusiasts looking to flex their competitive streaks, head to Ian Coley Shooting School, situated on the rural outskirts of Cheltenham, where you can enjoy the chance to try your hand at a range of country sports, from clay targets to air rifle shooting.
Cheltenham is home to a buzzing racing calendar, whether you’re into horse racing or are first-timer head to Cheltenham Racecourse for the chance to dress in your finest and enjoy the lively surroundings, place your bets and get ready to cheer on your horse.
Another idea for creative hens is pottery painting at the Paint It Yourself Pottery studio where you can choose from a selection of items to add your own artistic flair to.
If it’s a spa experience you’re after, Cheltenham’s Elan Spa, located at the The Greenway Hotel offers a luxury three-hour pamper package including a 30-minute treatment of your choice, full use of the spa facilities and a glass of Champagne. Hen parties can also opt to add on a two-course lunch or afternoon tea to truly make a day of it.
The Foodworks Cookery School hosts an array of fun-filled activities for hen parties, from wine tasting to bread baking, flower arranging to a Thai banquet, along with the option of combining a cooking lesson followed by an afternoon at C-Side Spa at nearby Cowley Manor. Plus, there’s the chance to have Butlers in the Buff wait on you!
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining in Cheltenham, with a huge selection of eateries catering to a range of tastes and budgets.
Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and The Clarence Social offer the option of private dining rooms making them a perfect choice for classy hen parties, especially if you plan to play the obligatory Mr & Mrs quiz and don’t want to embarrass the neighbouring table!
Dining options in Cheltenham catering for large groups include lively Caribbean eatery Turtle Bay; Zizzi’s, housed in the impressive setting of a former church; pizza, pie and cider specialists The Stable; The Spice Lodge, serving Pan Asian cuisine; Bill’s, an ideal town centre spot for brunch, lunch or dinner; and The Tavern, a bustling gastropub where you can enjoy the American-inspired menu in an informal setting.
See soglos.com/food/cheltenham/venues to find out more, along with plenty of other delicious dining options.
It wouldn’t be a hen do without indulging in a bit of bubbly or a cocktail or six, and Cheltenham has a bumper crop of establishment to enjoy a tipple.
If you’re looking to do a bar crawl of the town, the lively Montpellier area is a good place to start the night with Harry Cook and All Bar One both having been recently renovated.
Copa, Revolution and The Whittle Taps can all arrange cocktail classes for hens dos, and are perfect night spots for groups. With Lily Gins, Six Degrees of Separation, and Croft & Jones Trading Co., a hidden speakeasy bar under The Clarence Social, also offering good cocktail menus.
See soglos.com/drink/cheltenham/venues to discover more about the places to drink, along with plenty other options.
If you want to carry on the party into the night Cheltenham has a choice of clubs where you can hit the dance floor.
At 21 Club, a bustling basement bar open till 3am, revellers can hire a VIP booth for up to 10 people and benefit from priority admittance, Thirteen Degrees has the option to reserve a table and offers priority entry for groups of six or more, while Under The Prom stays open till 6am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Cheltenham hosts an array of events throughout the year and basing the hen do around these diary dates is ideal if you want a focal point for your weekend.
Race meets take place from October to April, with The Festival and world famous Gold Cup taking place in March. Expect a riotous atmosphere but bear in mind that accommodation often gets booked up a year in advance and prepare to pay a premium for somewhere to stay.
If the bride-to-be is a music lover then consider heading to Cheltenham Jazz Festival which descends on the town for six days of musical fun at the end of April. Even if you don’t manage to get tickets to see the concerts, which have included performances from Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter and Laura Mvula in the past, make a beeline for the Festival Bar in Montpellier Gardens to soak up the relaxed atmosphere in the spring sunshine.
Festival-loving hens can enjoy rocking out to a variety of genres at the annual Wychwood Festival which takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse at the end of May each year. Expect an eclectic line up that spans artists such as Supergrass, Happy Mondays and The Proclaimers, and for a true festival experience, albeit on a luxury scale, opt to camp in one of the tipis, yurts or bell tents.
For a more cultured hen do experience, the annual Literature Festival offers the chance to see some of the biggest names in fiction, food, art, sport, television and politics take to the stage. Imperial Square and Montpellier Gardens are transformed into lively venues during the 10-day literary event which also sees pop up cafés, bars and restaurants – offering the perfect setting for an alternative hen party.
Cheltenham town is the ideal size for exploring on foot and with most of the bars, hotels and restaurants situated in the centre you won’t need to factor in too much of the budget on taxis.
There is plenty of public car parks and on-street parking available, if you do intend to drive.
The nearest airport is Gloucestershire Airport, and the nearest train station is Cheltenham Spa.
By Anna Marshall
Monday 03 April 2017
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