Charlotte Balbier

hens in the city: durham

September 29th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral

The historic city of Durham is famous for its cathedral, castle and picture-perfect setting by the River Wear, not to mention its first-class university, which attracts students by the hordes. And the good news is that where there are students, there is typically a plethora of bars, restaurants and other activities all awaiting us visiting hens!

A charming destination steeped in heritage, with glorious bridges and cobbled streets, Durham certainly offers hens something more quaint and compact than the much larger neighbouring cities of Newcastle to the north or York to the south.

The city is also the perfect base for hens keen to get out into the Durham countryside and enjoy something altogether more relaxing. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some of this fabulous location’s best bits, guaranteed to make your hen weekend one to remember…

where to stay

Ramside Hall

Ramside Hall

Durham is an affordable destination with a variety of options when it comes to overnight accommodation. You have stylish hotel staples in the heart of the city, such as Radisson Blu and the Marriott Hotel Royal County, and on the cheap and cheerful end of the scale, look out for the likes of Travelodge or Premier Inn.

Radisson Blu

Radisson Blu

Want to venture out of Durham for a slice of luxury? Look no further than Ramside Hall, a swish four-star hotel on the outskirts of the city set in 350 acres of stunning grounds, complete with an uber-modern spa and Fusion Restaurant.

what to do

Ramside spa

Ramside Hall

A river cruise on the Prince Bishop is the perfect way to soak up the city’s beautiful landmarks and serene surroundings. This tranquil escapade along the Wear lasts a full hour and includes a live commentary, with a sun deck and bar onboard to boot. Alternatively, explore the river at your leisure and hire your very own traditional rowing boats from Browns Boats – just make sure none of your hens drop their oars!

Ebony Champagne Bar

Ebony Champagne Bar

If sublime pampering is more of a squad goal for the weekend, the city is close to a number of fabulous spas including our earlier top accommodation pick, Ramside Hall. This is the ultimate spa resort, with a thermal suite and five pools – including a stunning, Insta-worthy infinity pool.

Is a live performance your vice? Then make a date with the Gala Theatre, which plays host to everything from music and dance to comedy and opera. The perfect outing to kick-start your weekend celebrations and switch things up from the usual bar crawl.

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hens in the city: newcastle upon tyne

September 4th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Pitcher & Piano

Pitcher & Piano

Renowned as a party city and an ever-popular destination among hens and stags – Newcastle is a cosmopolitan city with a burgeoning food and drinks scene to match.

Home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the country (yes, we’re looking at you Tyne Bridge), Newcastle has got it all when it comes to a weekend break – from top shopping and leisure activities, to an eclectic mix of arts, heritage and culture.

Here we’ve rounded up some of the Toon’s many highlights that will make your hen do the most fun, enjoyable and memorable of celebrations with your gals.

So, it’s time to brush up on your Geordie lingo ladies, and leave those jackets behind in the hotel room…

Grey Street

Grey Street

where to stay

Whether you’re splurging on something extra special or simply looking for a place to lay your head for the night – there’s a variety of hotels to suit all budgets and tastes, scattered across the city.

If you’re looking to stay a stone’s throw from the picture-perfect River Tyne on the lively Quayside, there’s the purse-friendly Tune Hotel, as well as the reasonably priced Waterside Hotel situated in a beautiful grade II listed building.

On the more decadent end of the spectrum, you have The Vermont – a four-star luxury hotel offering up a dose of 1930s grandeur, and the uber chic Malmaison, which has welcomed many a celebrity over the years and overlooks the tilting Millennium Bridge.

Malmaison (2)

Malmaison

In the heart of the city, budget design hotel Motel One is a hop, skip and a jump from the main shopping centre and is best described as stylish and affordable; meanwhile the newly refurbished Grey Street Hotel is in a prime location on, yes you guessed it – Grey Street, once voted the finest street in Britain.

If stepping off the train and offloading your luggage in a matter of minutes sounds more appealing though – you can’t go wrong with the modern accommodation provided by Hampton by Hilton or Sleeperz.

Colonel Porters

Colonel Porters

what to do

Like any city – Newcastle has a thriving social scene offering up a mix of activities to suit every style of hen party.

Of course, who doesn’t enjoy a spot of retail therapy with your girl squad in tow? Intu Eldon Square is the go-to destination for all your high street favourites. Meanwhile, Fenwick department store on Northumberland Street is a shopping haven spread over five floors, with its extensive beauty hall (touted as one of the largest in Europe) housing designer brands, such as Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford and Chanel, as well as a Nails Inc bar and Aveda blow dry salon. The historic Central Arcade – also in the city centre – dates back to the 1830s and is worth a browse too, with stores such as Space NK, Cath Kidson and independent jewellery shop, Bcharmd.

Keen to get your game on? Lane 7 is a boutique 10-pin bowling alley – think a swish ambient setting, spotlight-illuminated bowling lanes and lots of other activities to boot, including ping-pong, crazy golf and a karaoke booth. Plenty to keep you entertained for a few hours!

Lane 7

Lane 7 – image source

Afternoon tea is always a popular choice among more sophisticated hens (we’re partial to a scone and some fizz ourselves…) and one of our favourite destinations is SIX, the rooftop restaurant at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Thanks to its floor to ceiling windows, you’ll be tucking into its dainty cakes and scones while enjoying some of the best views on offer of the River Tyne and its iconic bridges.

If an indulgent pamper sesh is your idea of hen heaven, be sure to check out city centre spa, the Mineral House at the Crowne Plaza. Along with a 10m swimming pool, there’s a spa, steam room and relaxation area for the most blissful of afternoons with the gals.

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go #bridesquad: alternative hen party ideas

July 11th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Roller skates

image source, photography by Brittany Griffin

Planning and organising a bride’s hen do can (almost) be as stressful as the big day in question. Bringing together a host of school and university friends, family members and work mates – who are almost always dotted in various locations across the UK – can be an arduous task.

And then comes the really tricky part – deciding on what you’ll actually do to celebrate the bride’s final soiree as a ‘single’ woman – and in turn claim the crown as best bridesmaid ever (it’s true, we’re all secretly vying for this accolade).

These days, it’s become the perfect excuse to jet away for a weekend in the sun, but for the hen do staying closer to home, there are lots of fun and creative activities to choose from too, that promise something a touch more sophisticated and memorable than a clichéd night on the tiles.

As such, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite alternative hen party ideas, perfect for the bride-to-be up north and her devoted squad of besties.

roller disco

We love a throwback or two, especially when it involves retro skates, neon lights, a glitter ball and classic pop tunes. Cue the roller disco, which has seen a revival in recent years, with everyone from Kylie Minogue to Kate Middleton getting their groove on in the roller rink. If your bride was born in the 80s, then you can’t fail to impress with this choice! Manchester is a hotspot for roller discos, with Newcastle also recently dabbling in a pop-up rink at city centre venue, The Boilershop.

glamping

image source

slumber party

Another activity that harks back to our youth is the classic slumber party – the ultimate girls’ nights in! Of course, you’ll want to pick a sumptuous setting that’s extra special – think an urban penthouse, private roof terrace (we love The Light Aparthotel in Manchester’s Northern Quarter) or even a beach house or castle (Kate and Tom’s have curated a fabulous selection of UK venues) – and pair the evening with bubbles, pampering sessions and delicious treats.

yoga retreat

Zen parties are now a thing, offering hens a blissful, chilled out session in each other’s company. For something a little different from the norm – House of Voga fuses yoga with 80s dance, offering classes up north, in Edinburgh. Meanwhile Secret Yoga Club run private parties that blend yoga with live music (we’re talking the violin, cello and even chamber ensembles), a candlelit three course feast and a post-yoga activity such as life drawing, reiki or floristry workshops. A truly inspired combination, we think!

Macarons

image source

macaron making

Cocktail making is like so five years ago, don’t you know? Instead, get crafty in the kitchen with a macaron workshop, which will be sure to hit the sweet spot on your hen do. We’re a little taken by Mademoiselle Macaron, a kitsch little café based in Edinburgh that offers private classes to hen parties, where you can bring along your own drink and even dress up in a Marie Antoinette wig!

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blissed out bride: an overnight break at titanic spa

October 24th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

titanic-spa-2

While you brides-to-be are in full wedding planning mode, us Brides Up North girls are right there with you in a whirlwind of organising and staging our Luxury Wedding Fairs throughout the north of the country.

And though we love what we do, such a high level of planning leads to late nights, early starts and bodies that ache from head to toe. So when an invitation for an overnight break at Titanic Spa in Huddersfield arrived in our inbox, we thought we had more than earned a little down time.

titanic-spa-7

We have been fortunate to visit the amazing West Yorkshire spa before, though we’ve never stayed for more than a day, so we were extra excited to see what else would be in store for us.

Popular with both men and women of all ages this is an ideal retreat for brides and grooms to recharge the batteries, either pre- or post-wedding, but also makes a heavenly location for a hen do or mother and daughter day. Whatever your excuse – we mean reason, you can be sure of first class facilities and service with Titanic being named ‘Best Luxury Eco Spa’ and ‘Best Luxury Destination Spa’ at the prestigious 2016 World Luxury Spa Awards.

titanic-spa-13

Upon arrival our overnight luggage was taken from us and delivered to our room which we would be able to access later in the afternoon. We knew our way round and so skipped the tour and headed straight into the spa’s well-known Heat & Ice Experience. Here guests can go between a number of hot and cold rooms, each with differing benefits to the body. The overall effect is cleansing and invigorating as you peak and dip in temperature.

We favoured the warmer rooms, such as the saunas, herbal infusion room and aromatherapy room, which cleared pores whilst draining away any feelings of stress too. In between the hot experiences we dipped in and out of the ice room but weren’t quite brave enough for the plunge pool or bucket shower experience. We did manage to idle away about 30 minutes in the foot spas though while we gossiped about all things Made in Chelsea and Real House Wives of Cheshire.

titanic-spa-22

Next, lunch. We recalled how good the food was on our last visit, but as it turns out the team at Titanic have stepped things up a gear again, with the dishes surpassing our previous dining experience. We both enjoyed a Prawn, Red Pepper and Chilli Linguine washed was with a Sauvignon Blanc. That’s right, though healthy, the spa still allows for treats!

titanic-spa-14

The impressive facilities at Titanic – which also include a 15 metre swimming pool, gym, relaxation room and outdoor hot tub – are so plentiful that a treatment isn’t essential for those on a short break. That said, if you’re on the run up to your wedding we highly recommend indulging in a facial or body treatment as part of your big day beauty prep.

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blissed out bride: slaley hall golf resort & spa

June 14th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Slaley Hall Spa (3)

Ladies, we all know the affects that stress can have on our bodies; from aching muscles and skin flare ups, to dark under-eye circles and generally feeling worn out. As one of the most stressful (but enjoyable, we hope) events you can experience in life, it’s little wonder that couples planning weddings can really feel the pressure, both inside and out.

This is why we highly recommend taking a relaxing break from the wedding schedule now and again to recharge the batteries and gather your thoughts, while treating your mind, body and soul. And what better way to do so than booking into a spa resort, whether just for the day or an indulgent minibreak.

Keen to point our readers in the direction of fabulous retreats in the North where they can escape to for solace – and a flippin good massage, we’ve been out on our Blissed Out Bride travels once again.

This time our destress-destination was Slaley Hall golf resort and spa hotel, located in a secluded area of Northumberland. Following our full-on, yet fabulous, season of spring wedding fairs across the north of the country, we were literally crying out for some R&R and so sped up the A1 for a well-deserved Slaley spa day.

Slaley Hall Spa (4)

As part of the Q Hotel group, the historic hall, set in 1,000 acres of stunning countryside, includes a range of accommodation and eating and drinking facilities, as well as a choice of beautiful function suites, which are available for weddings. Meanwhile outdoors Slaley boasts two championship golf courses and stunning grounds, upon which marquees can be pitched for outdoor celebrations.

The part of its facilities we were looking forward to viewing most however, was its luxury spa. Safely changed into our comforting robes and slippers we headed straight to pool side for some light refreshments and a little magazine time (one of our very favourite ways to unwind) – the pressure on our shoulders instantly lifted. As we stretched back on our loungers the humidity of the room acted as a warming cocoon and we had all on to keep our eyes open – talk about optimum conditions for relaxing!

An impressive space, Slaley’s pool area has a lovely holiday feel about it with tropical plants dotted around the pool, waterfalls and Jacuzzi, and little bridges linking the different areas together.

Slaley Hall Spa (6)

It was soon lunchtime so we were shown through to one of Slaley’s three restaurants (still wrapped in our robes) to receive our spa day lunch. Presented in a neat Bento Box we enjoyed a healthy (ish) yet satisfying meal of chicken salad with cous cous, vegetable sticks and dip, followed by a lovely piece of chocolate cake, which was all washed down with a tall glass of fizz. We felt this provided he perfect combination of clean and treat eating (both we feel are essential to keep a girl heathy and happy!).

Once the food had settled it was back to the pool for a little snoozing and swimming, whilst also taking some time to detox and clear our skin in the sauna.

Though we didn’t muster the strength to visit (shame on us), Slaley also boasts a health club with state-of-the-art equipment and experienced instructors, to help you reach any pre-wedding fitness goals. Feeling the need for some ultra-pampering, we were booked in for a treatment each and so made our way to the gorgeous relaxation room, complete with soft sofas and beds, to meet our knowledgeable Espa therapists. As I’m soon to be jetting off on my jollies I wanted a treatment that would refresh my skin and really make it glow while still soothing my tired muscles while Julia, who is soon to be expecting a second bundle of joy, required a relaxing facial treatment to prevent any pregnancy break-outs.

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friday night is party night: introducing mini-epic!

May 13th, 2016 | Julia Braime


Mini-Epic from Mini-Epic on Vimeo.

Planning a hen party should be fun, but sometimes you find you’re just drowning in the admin of it all.  Where to go, what to do, whether to choose a wild night or a chilled celebration… it can be a mind boggling and spreadsheet heavy task.  Add to that making sure that everyone is invited and has RSVP’d in a way that comes across as more bubbly than bossy, whilst setting the tone for the fun ahead and even the keenest of hens might want to hang up their high heels.  It’s an L plate strewn minefield.

Here at Brides Up North we’ve found the answer, courtesy of a cool new service that launches today. The online invite has been long overdue a 21st Century makeover. And it looks like the guys at Brides Up North Sponsor Mini-Epic have done just that!

Super cute, very tongue in cheek and loads of fun… whilst being very practical too.  Hey, do Mini-Epic want to be a bridesmaid too?

mini-epic say: Our online hen party invites are fun, totally personalised and add a little bit of excitement to the planning process. It’s a perfect way to get everyone excited for all the amazing things you have planned! As well as setting the perfect tone for your hen party, our range of invitations also collect your guest’s RSVPs, in a simple back-end system that is totally easy to manage and organise. No chasing of emails, or messaging group threads necessary…. it’s all taken care of.

There are loads of templates to choose from too, with a video and animation to suit everyone and every type of party. Think of this as your own personal ‘movie trailer’ to the most amazing night of your life (so far!).

A few examples you can see below, so let us know what you think and which you would choose. The invites are packed with personality and originality, and put your guests in the mood to party with an invitation they won’t forget.

After all, when you go to all the effort of organising a party, you want it to start in the best possible way right?

The Perfect Cocktail: Hen Party from Mini-Epic on Vimeo.

Hey Girls!: Hen Party from Mini-Epic on Vimeo.

It’s Time! : Hen Party from Mini-Epic on Vimeo.

You can find Mini-Epic online at mini-epic.com, and their invitations are available now to purchase and create. 

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