September 29th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
May 28th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Because every now and then we need a little pampering – isn’t that right girls? So today we introduce a new feature to the blog which is designed to encourage you busy brides-to-be to take some much needed time out from those hectic wedding planning schedules and just chill!
Through our blissed out bride posts we’ll be visiting beautiful havens of relaxation throughout the north of the country (you can thank us later) that are ideal locations for a little pre-wedding pampering, a heavenly hen do or even a minimoon to recharge the batteries when the big day has been and gone.
And so we begin with a trip to the wonderful Titanic Spa. All in the name of research for you tense brides (we know, we’re too kind) Julia and I visited this tranquil venue tucked away in a scheduled part of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and came away literally walking on air.
As the name suggests this is a spa of impressive size which has great power when it comes to the art of de-stressing and has become particularly well known for its extensive ‘heat and ice experience’ which we’ll tell you all about a little later on.
Perfect for some quality time with the girls, your hubby-to-be or your busy mum, Titanic offers a fab range of packages, from full spa days – including ‘indulge’, ‘relax’, ‘detox’ and ‘celebrate’ options – to twilight sessions and even overnight stays. We’ll let you determine the amount of relaxation required depending on how your bridezilla barometer is reading.
Upon arrival at the spa, which is set within a stunning textile mill, we were given a warm welcome followed by a tour of those impressive facilities: gym, pool, sauna, steam room, relaxation lounge, treatment areas and the heat and ice experience. Phew!
Thanks to such generous facilities guests could easily spend a day here without the need for a treatment but for the full Titanic experience, we say it’s a must (especially after all that planning) and so we started our day of indulgence with a full body massage for me and luxurious facial for Julia.
Titanic’s treatment rooms act like a cocoon, wrapping you up in warm relaxation, which feels like a treat in itself! Though once the therapist (thanks Beth) began to work her magic hands on my back, shoulders and neck I was taken to a whole other level of relaxation. The pressure was perfect ensuring pleasure rather than pain though I still felt the benefit on muscles tired out from the gym, making this a fabulous treat for ladies that have been working hard to achieve their dream bride body.
Julia’s been travelling a lot recently and working long hours at the computer screen between planes, trains and automobiles, so a bespoke facial was the perfect way to restore some much needed balance to her stressed out complexion. Although she assures me that she managed to resist falling asleep on the job, Julia emerged glowing after her hour in the hands of her therapist – looking rested and ready to take on the world once more!
There are so many other tantalising treatments, using products by Decléor, Elemis Carita and Neom Organics, to choose from. These include exfoliation, cleansing and detox treatments, great for banishing dry, lifeless skin cells and producing flawless, radiant skin ready for your big day. Alternatively you might want to sooth away pre-wedding headaches with an Indian head massage, restore your body’s harmony levels with a reiki session or indulge in beauty treatments with your hens, such as a mani and pedi.
Next, a gossip poolside before lunch. There’s so much to be said for loosing yourself in mindless chitchat whilst dipping your feet in a pool or chilling out in a Jacuzzi as we were quickly reminded and noted many groups of ladies (and the odd man) doing the exact same.
By afternoon Hudderfield felt like Hawaii (well almost) and so we requested lunch on the outdoor terrace. What we love about Titanic is that they don’t go all Gillian McKeith during your visit by feeding you just greens and denying you a little treat. The menu choices are healthy but tasty and wine, prosecco and champagne can be ordered alongside (hurrah!).
Refuelled we headed back indoors to that much-talked about heat and 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 rather refreshing as you peak and dip in temperature. We particularly enjoyed the crystal steam room, designed for ‘deep relaxation’, and the herbal infusion room, which is said to ‘invigorate the spirit’. However we were a little nervous when it came to the colder rooms and chickened out of the plunge pool and bucket shower altogether. If you’re currently walking around in a wedding planning haze we’re sure these would instantly bring you back to reality.
That left us with just one area to visit – the relaxation lounge, a soft lit room with huge beanbags and tranquil music. This is what every stressed out bride needs – pure relaxation a million miles away from seating plans or taster menus. Julia might have fallen asleep on the job again, but to be honest… I wasn’t in any state to check!
To round things off we each had a mini mani so that we could take a little piece of pretty away from Titanic Spa with us in the form of pastel polished nails. Gorge!
So girls it’s time to become a blissed out bride by adding a Titanic trip to your ‘wedding to do’ list.
For full details of Titanic Spa’s facilities, accommodation and packages, visit their website.
May 25th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
While some brides are looking for a modern city in which to spend their so called last night of freedom others will prefer a location with a little more depth in terms of history and culture for their pre-wedding partying with the girls.
But historic doesn’t have to mean boring, and certainly not when it comes to the gorgeous walled city of York. There really is something for all here making it a particularly good choice for hen parties made up of varying aged ladies and those with differing interests.
Within its walls ladies will find a fantastic mix of culture, shopping and entertainment as well as both traditional and cosmopolitan places to drink and dine.
So rally up the girls as we talk a hen party in York!
where to stay
Ladies wanting a weekend of luxury should check in to The Grand Hotel & Spa which overlooks the city’s walls. This five star hotel boasts seven different beautifully designed room types giving you and your girls several choices when it comes to how much of the budget to blow on accommodation. Meanwhile in the hotel’s vaults ladies will find the spa, for hours of relaxation and pampering.
Those wanting to embrace York’s history by staying at some of its more traditional spots should also look up Guy Fawkes Inn and The Lamb & Lion Inn. Both are situated in desirable locations and are brimming with character. Hearty, unpretentious food can also be found at these classic inns.
If it’s more of a boutique feel you and the gals are after The Judge’s Lodging and Hotel du Vin should both tick boxes. Situated in the heart of the city The Judges Lodgings is surrounded by the city’s shops, restaurants, bars and historic sites, though once you’ve settled into one of its attractive rooms, dined in its gorgeous restaurant or enjoyed a glass on fizz on its outdoor terrace, chances are you won’t want to stray too far. Meanwhile the city’s Hotel du Vin is tucked away in the Mount area in a Grade II listed mansion house which retains its 19th century charm whilst enjoying the chain’s signature style. During their stay ladies can indulge in delicious French cuisine at the hotel’s elegant bistro.
Finally for hens on a smaller accommodation budget there is the modern Hotel 53 (handily located near Topshop for those last minute party outfit purchases) which is a little superior to the city’s cheaper options such as Ibis and Travelodge.
what to do
Shopping in York is different to many other cities such as Manchester, Birmingham or Newcastle in that it doesn’t have a large retail centre and instead its shops are situated in historic buildings with stunning architecture along the city’s cobbled streets. But fear not, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your fashion fixes here as the quaint city is home to the likes of French Connection, The White Company, Zara, Hobbs, Mango and Topshop as well as department stores Fenwicks and Browns, plus lots of quirky independent shops.
For bargain hunters the York Design Outlook is on the outskirts of the city which has a great range of designer labels at discount prices, from Ted Baker and Kurt Geiger to Calvin Klein and Fred Perry.
If you and your gang easily tire of the shops you could explore York’s past at one of its numerous historic sites or museums such as York Castle Museum, York Minster or, of course, the city walls. Those with a sweet tooth might want to make time to visit York’s Chocolate Story which educates visitors on York’s most famous chocolate-making families and their finest creations, including the Chocolate Orange and the Kit Kat. Walking and bus tours also provide different options to see the city’s main sites.
If your group is looking for something more thrilling (and chilling) York is also famous for its ghost walks with many of its historic buildings and streets said to be haunted. Some of the tours stop by ancient pubs that have had strange encounters – handy for those that need to build up a little courage with the help of a gin or two.
But if that all sounds like hard work a spa visit might be more your group’s cup of tea. As previously mentioned in the city centre there is The Grand Hotel & Spa which is also open to non-guests for £25 a day, though bookings must be made in advance. While some ladies might be quite happy lazing by the pool and Jacuzzi others might like to indulge in a treatment to enhance their experience. Alternatively, a little outside the city centre there is Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, which offers spa health and beauty days and half days which include use of the luxurious facilities, refreshments and treatment options.
Depending on the time of year you choose to have your hen party there are some fabulous seasonal activates in York too, such as its maze during the summer months and Winter Wonderland, complete with ice rink, around Christmas. Again depending on the dates your group can do, a day at York Racecourse could be a winning option – a great reason to dress up, plenty of prosecco and the possibility of pocketing some cash, what more could a hen party want?
where to eat & drink
A hen do to York just wouldn’t be complete without afternoon tea at the famous Betty’s tea rooms – a quintessentially English treat for you and your girls, complete with dainty sandwiches and cakes and a glass of fizz.
Meanwhile for evening meals there are the chains you would usually expect to find in citites, such as Zizis, Ask and Pizza Express, as well as traditional pubs serving up hearty dishes and fine dining options too.
Located in the Old Engine House on the edge of York’s Museum Gardens The Star Inn The City is a great location to enjoy casual brasserie-style dining with seasonal menus and daily specials to pick from. For fans of global dishes there are also numerous Chinese, Indian, French and Italian restaurants. Though some of the independents are quite small in size there is the likes of Jamie’s Italian, which can cater for larger groups.
Meanwhile the atmospheric Lucia Wine Bar & Grill, situated on Swinegate Court East, is a great place to go for early evening nibbles or a meal and cocktails before exploring the city’s nightlife. Missoula Bar on Bridge Street, previously The Living Room, is a great place to go for American ranch style cuisine and exciting drinks menus. The bar is also known for hosting events such as spirit tasting sessions and cocktail schools which could provide another activity for your fun-filled weekend.
When it comes to drinking York is best known for its traditional pubs so you and the girls could have two very different nights out – fashionable bars one night and ‘real’ pubs the other. If you do choose to embrace York’s pub scene top places to order a pint (or a half) include The York Tap, The Lamb & Lion and The Maltings.
In terms of bars many are clustered close together along Swinegate, Stonegate and Grape Lane in the city centre. These include cool underground bar Sotano, the lively Kennedys bar and cocktail and champagne bar The Vudu Lounge which boasts a menu of more than 150 cocktails, plus DJ and dancefloor. And if it’s late nightlife you are your hens are up for, historic York houses a few nightclubs to, including Kuda on Clifford Street meaning you can eat, sleep, rave, repeat!
August 9th, 2012 | Julia Braime
The gorgeous Helena at Baked Cupcakery spoilt my guests at the recent Brides Up North Tweet Up North East with a tower of beautiful Brides Up North cupcakes. Helena is also my kinda gal, coming early to help out and staying right until the end of the party. Legend.
Now her services are not just limited to your big day, as she launches her new Afternoon Tea party service – utterly delicious, and perfect for a girly gathering. A perfectly frosted hen party anyone? Yes please!
Pass me a cucumber sandwich?
Helena of Baked Cupcakery says: Baked provides Afternoon Tea direct to your door. Perfect for parties, hen nights, baby showers and other celebrations. We provide the spread and you just have to enjoy it. You can choose to hire our beautiful pink polka dot tea set and stands or simply use your own. When you’re done we will collect it all again, so there’s no washing up!
There is the choice of two different spreads to suit your hen party celebration or girly get together. Our Dainty Spread is £7.00 per person with a minimum order of 6 servings, and the Splendid Spread is only £9.50 per person. Tea set hire is from £18.00 and our polka dot tea set Includes tea pots, milk jug, sugar bowl, tea cups & saucers, plates and cake stands – the works!
Delivery is free in Sunderland and from £5.00 to surrounding areas of the North East.
We are a small bakery based in Sunderland, run by cake enthusiast Helena. We specialise in all things cupcake, from giant cupcakes to mini cupcakes and everything in between. We are always trying out new things and love a challenge. Please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to make an enquiry.
Click here to read an interview with Helena of Baked Cupcakery on Brides Up North.
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