If you want to plan the perfect hen do, Devon has so much to offer, with gorgeous countryside, amazing beaches and a great choice of self-catering accommodation.
The pretty county is ideal for hens wanting something slightly different from bar crawls and nightclubs but that’s not to say there isn’t a lot of fun to be had, as we found out!
A Big Cottage Weekend
Hiring a big self-catering house is a popular choice for a hen weekend. You can cook, play hen party games and indulge in some pampering, all in the comfort of your own space. As a popular holiday destination, there is plenty of choice of self-catering accommodation in Devon and love the amazing properties that Kate and Tom’s have to offer.
They specialise in large, luxury houses that are a great place to spend some quality time with your best girls. We love the idea of making the most of the extensive dining space by hiring a personal chef, so you can enjoy a delicious dinner.
Dart Valley House is a gorgeous property that sleeps 20 people in eight double bedrooms. The house has an indoor and outdoor pool, a tennis court and is surrounded by three acres of olive groves and wild flower meadows. With such great facilities you may not want to leave the house but if you do, there are beautiful coastal walks, with award winning beaches just 45 minutes away.
If you have a really big hen squad, then The Old Vicarage sleeps up to 34 guests! Located in Marlborough in South Devon, the house is ideal for hens wanting to make the most of the sea, with Salcombe and Bigbury Bay nearby. If you want to go out in the evening then Salcombe Harbour has lots of great restaurants and pubs, or head there in the day for a stroll around the many boutiques.
The Dairy Farm is a beautiful property that manages to combine the feel of a luxury hotel with the comforts of home. With beautiful interiors, Molton Brown toiletries and Egyptian cotton sheets – it sounds heavenly!
A Luxury Hotel by the Sea
The Saunton Sands Hotel is a stylish Art Deco hotel, sat on the cliff overlooking three miles of sandy beach. Hen do packages included self-catering apartments for between four and twenty people. You can make the most of the spa and relax by the indoor pool or if the sun is shining, head to the outdoor pool overlooking the stunning bay.
If you fancy something a little more active, the hotel can arrange some surf lessons, horse riding and coasteering.
In the evenings you can try your hand at cocktail making before enjoying a meal in one of the restaurants or if you'd prefer a night in, they can arrange a DVD, champagne and nibbles!
A City Break in Exeter
Devon may be known for the beautiful countryside and beaches but it also has the added bonus of the awesome city of Exeter. Exeter is a fantastic city with beautiful ancient architecture, great shopping and lots of bars and restaurants.
GoHen offers a range of hen packages in Exeter, so we asked them for their top tips for a hen do in Exeter:
“For many hens a city break is the perfect answer to give the nearly-wed one final 'Woohoo!' before the 'I do'. The bride and her guests can enjoy a pre-wedding party with everything right on their doorstep and not a welly in sight.
"City Centre Hotels: A good hen party hotel should be right in the city centre, a hop, skip and a cocktail from the best bars, clubs and shops saving you on taxi fees and sore feet.
"Hen Dining: Getting a large group in on a busy Friday night can be tough so book in advance. Alternatively book a private dining room meal at a hotel rather than a restaurant.
"Activities: These days there are hundreds of activities to choose from, the world really is your oyster but always pick something that suits the bride’s tastes.
"Cocktail Mixing: Learn how to make great drinks from a professional mixologist. The hens can sip as they work. Perfect for party girls.
"Dance Class: From Thriller to Grease there are dance classes to suit everyone. Learn a professionally choreographed dance routine and you could even perform it at the wedding reception - perfect for music fans.
"Escape Rooms: These live-action games have become very popular. Intense, fun and ever so slightly spooky. Perfect for movie/crime buffs.
"Life Drawing: Sketch a hunky naked male model while listening to a certain amount of inappropriate hen banter (we all have that one friend). Perfect for inviting older relatives.
"Hen Party Top Tip: Our No1 tip is ALWAYS book early. Like weddings, many hens want to enjoy good weather, that means hotels and activities can get booked up quickly through certain months/weekends. Book early, not only will you get the dates you want but often the earlier you book, the better the price. Most of all, have fun!”
A Surfing Weekend in Croyde
Make the most of the gorgeous beaches by hitting the waves in the pretty village of Croyde on the north coast. Aside from the long sandy beach, ideal for surfing, Croyde has lots going on. There are two pubs, a bar, a cute café, ice-cream shop and a few surf shops too. Although it's a quaint pretty village, it manages to not be too quiet – there’s a real buzz about the place, especially in the summer months.
Surf South West offer Girls on Waves surf sessions, which are great for hen groups, as Ian explains:
“Surfing has always proved to be a great option for a Hen Weekend as it is an activity accessible to everyone. Surf South West ensure that surfing is a fun and memorable experience. We look after hen groups exclusively and ensure that all abilities are catered for.
"A typical lesson begins at our surf centre next to the beach at Croyde where everyone is kitted out with wetsuits and surfboards. The group will then spend 15 minutes on the beach learning the basics of catching waves, techniques of standing up on the board and sea safety. The rest of the session is spent in the sea with our instructors alongside everyone. Lessons take place in waist-depth water which means that participants do not have to be strong swimmers.
"The cost of a 2 hour lesson is £34 per person and we also offer a group discount of 10% if your group is over 12 in number. The cost includes use of a wetsuit and surfboard, all tuition and use of our centre next to the beach with changing rooms and safe storage of belongings. We are Croyde's only beachside surf school and have been operating here for 21 years.”
There is lots of self-catering accommodation in Croyde, as well as camp sites during the summer season.
If you want to try surfing but are looking for a hen do in the north of England, then you can also surf on a Newcastle hen do.
A Festival Weekend
If you love the idea of a weekend in Croyde, the best time to visit is in June when Gold Coast Oceanfest is on. Oceanfest is a small festival that celebrates music and surf, located on the fields on the edge of the beach. In their words ‘It’s big enough to create a great party atmosphere, yet small enough to not be overwhelming’.
There are volleyball tournaments, surf competitions and live music - 2017’s headliners have been confirmed as Sigma, Kaiser Chiefs and Scouting for Girls. There is no better place to spend a weekend, enjoying a cider, listening to live music, overlooking the beautiful Gold Coast with your friends.
Tickets for the festival are super reasonable, with weekends tickets around £54 – but look out for the early bird deals, as they do get more expensive close to the event.
If you can’t make it to Oceanfest but love the idea of this sort of hen weekend, make sure you see our favourite festival hen party ideas.
Camp Out in Your Own Yurts
For brides who love to be outside, consider a visit to the Grey Willow Yurts; a small family-run campsite, offering a comfortable twist on traditional camping. Swap beers and bars for fires and stars.
Grey Willow Yurts is nestled in the Blackdown Hills, Devon, where traditional camping meets comfort and warmth. For a group of 15, they have three ‘yabins’ which all sleep 5, each equipped with log burners and campfires. There are plenty of activities in the area including Go Ape and horse riding stables.
Head to a Private Island
If you are heading to Devon for the sea, you can’t get much closer than staying on a private island. The Burgh Island Hotel is an Art Deco hotel, sat on the edge of its own island overlooking the sea and pretty sandy beaches.
All bookings include a meal in The Ballroom, with canapés, a three-course menu, coffee and petit fours. They have a dress code of Black tie and evening dress so it’s is a great chance to dress up and enjoy a delicious dinner. On Wednesdays and Fridays there is live music in The Ballroom provided by one of the house bands. The Palm Court Bar is ideal for cocktails before and after dinner and the Island even has its own pub, The Pilchard Inn, which hosts a curry night every Friday.
There is plenty to keep you busy during your stay. You can explore the Island, taking in the rugged rocks or clean sandy beach. If you fancy something a little more active you could try surfing or paddleboard or perhaps a game of tennis. You can take a ride in their sea tractor to the mainland for just £2.
Something that we think sounds amazing is the hotel’s lagoon - The Mermaid Pool. Have a refreshing dip in the natural sea water pool or you can take the rowing boat if you’d rather not get wet!
Note that the hotel will only take group bookings of up to ten across five rooms, ideal if you're looking for hen party ideas for small groups.
If you want to be close to nature, without compromising on luxury, then consider Longlands - a glamorous camping experience nestled in a secluded valley, on the border of Exmoor National Park.
They have five safari style lodges, each with an ensuite shower and washroom, kitchen area, beds and a beautiful deck area for watching the sunset over the sea. You will love the little touches, like the log burning stove, luxury Egyptian Cotton Bedding from The White Company and natural aromatherapy toiletries.
There’s plenty to do without venturing too far from Longlands - you can row around the private boating lake and even use the fishing rods and nets available to catch your dinner! There’s a streamside woodland walk, taking in the waterfalls, streams and nature trails.
If you want to go a little further afield they can arrange some offsite activities for the group, like surfing lessons at the nearby Woolacombe beach, horse-riding, kayaking, rafting, quad biking or clay pigeon shooting. If this all sounds a little too exhausting, you can make the most of some in lodge pampering or perhaps relax in the amazing hot tub!
After a full day of exploring you can head to the Party Barn. This is a great space that can hold up to thirty guests for eating and partying. They offer a range of food options, so you could opt for a curry night or a BBQ during the warmer months. The barn is decorated with lanterns, tea lights and flowers. There is a music system, projector perfect for games and you can even hire karaoke equipment.
Prices start from £595 for three nights and that includes everything you will need including toiletries, food and drinks!
A Yoga Retreat
If a weekend partying isn’t the bride’s thing, perhaps she’d enjoy a relaxing weekend of yoga. Bermondsey Fayre Yoga offer retreats at Eden Rise in Devon on various dates throughout the year at their yoga studio, overlooking the beautiful Devon countryside.
A weekend runs from 3pm on a Friday until 3pm on a Sunday and includes deep relaxation yoga, meditation and Hatha Yoga. In your free time you can go for a walk in the surrounding countryside, chill or have a massage or sauna. After dinner there is an evening activity, either some more yoga, or singing around the fire.
A weekend retreat costs around £250 per person and includes accommodation and good. The yoga is suitable for all levels and works by strengthening, reenergising and nourishing – perfect for busy brides in the lead up to the wedding!
River Cottage HQ is Hugh Whittingstall’s foodie haven in South Devon – ideal for brides who love their food. You can book a dining experience in the farmhouse, where you and your friends will have exclusive use and you can add on a cookery demonstration in the Farmhouse kitchen for an additional fee.
The dining experience begins with a short tractor and trailer ride down to the farm, where the team will be waiting to greet you with a complimentary aperitif or a glass of local fizz and homemade canapés.
Your meal will be introduced to you by your chef, who will explain how the dishes have been prepared. The menu will always showcase the best seasonal ingredients from the farm and local organic growers. You may get to sample some local fish or special cuts from one of the organically reared saddleback pigs.
The private dining experience is £95 for dinner, plus an additional £20 per person for a cooking demonstration before your meal. There is also a lunch option for £65. Alternatively you could opt for a cookery course, there are options available including Cakes and Sweet Pastry, Bread Making and Proper Pastry and Pies.
Cranberries Hideaway and Spa
Cranberries Hideaway is a collection of self-catering properties, with an onsite restaurant, bar and spa. The Milking Parlour and Wagon Shed both accommodate 16, for hen groups wanting their own space to eat, drink, play games and enjoy your own personal hot tub.
There are lots of activities on offer at Cranberries- in the day you can do clay pigeon shooting, try blind driving (eeek!) or head offsite for some deep sea fishing, quad biking or paint baling. If you fancy something a little more relaxed, you could try your hand at chocolate making or have a vintage tea party.
For the ultimate relaxation, head to the spa which offers a variety of packages. The Forever and Always package is £57 per person and includes a vintage cream tea party, a 25 minute treatment, use of a hydrotherapy massage bed, use of the Jacuzzi and sauna and as an added bonus the bride will receive an extra treatment.
In the evenings you can enjoy the onsite restaurant and gin bar. For a gourmet experience head to the nearby River Cottage HQ or the Old Inn pub in Kilmington is under a mile away and has a great menu. Of course you may want to make the most of the house, cooking for yourselves, or bringing in a chef to cook you dinner!
Whatever type of hen do you’re planning, you will want to make you have some great tunes, so check out our ultimate hen party playlist guaranteed to get the party started!