West Country spa hen weekend ideas

West Country Spa Weekend

Charlton House Spa Hotel… the perfect rural retreat

Nestled neatly into the heart of what I can only describe as a breathtaking scene of beauty, Charlton House holds quite a history for the Somerset town of Shepton Mallett. Developed as a boutique hotel by Roger Saul – founder of the Mulberry fashion & handbag empire, this stunning hotel and bar complex is now successfully operated by the Bannatyne group and I recently visited with my sister to experience the day spa… unsurprisingly – we had a ball!

Charlton House Hen weekend

My lovely friends over at BUY A GIFT kindly invited me to road test one of their divine day packages and I thought it would be rude not to! And divine it really was. From the minute we arrived to the moment we departed – kicking and screaming might I add – things got pretty messy with security (jokes!), we both really did relax, unwind and enjoy every second of our experience. The team within both the hotel and spa couldn’t have done more to make us feel welcome – and by the way, nobody had any idea I would be writing this blog feature, so it wasn’t like we were getting the vip treatment or anything. You just got the feeling that everyone was a vip at this location – my kind of venue.

West Country Spa

Once we had grabbed our robes and completed the formalities, we quickly settled into the hot tub and took a dip in the accompanying pool. It was bliss. We really should have ordered a glass of bubbles though as pictured – it was the only thing missing! Also a good point to note here is that we arrived on a Monday morning, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves which was lovely. An ideal time to visit if you are a Maid of Honour and thinking of treating your Bride-to-Be pre-wedding day for some proper RnR time.

Restuarant at Charlton House

A three course lunch followed which was not only beautifully presented, but perfectly sized and well considered for a spa day retreat. Nothing worse than an overloaded plate for such occasions. Light and healthy should be the order of the day when detoxing a little – well, we did have a glass of bubbles thrown in at this juncture and a delicious pud, but hey, we were treating ourselves after all!


Next up after lunch it was time to hit the spa for a hot stone massage – A-MAZ-ING! In one word. And trust me, I’ve experienced loads of hot stones! This treatment was up there as one of the best. My Sister loved her back and neck massage also. Now normally, I don’t like to take another dip post treatment, but on this occasion, we just couldn’t resist! It was back into the hot tub before rounding off proceedings with a Cappuccino in the drawing room. All very Agatha Christie and all very fabulous!

To book a perfect day retreat or overnight stress buster pre-wedding simply visit buyagift.co.uk

London hen party restaurant ideas

Laura Santtini
With Laura Santtini at Santini’s London

When it comes to throwing a memorable party, Santini’s in Central London has the lot. Private dining, a cocktail bar, an intimate restaurant and a gorgeous terrace too. Ok, so I was blessed with some pretty fabulous company, but honestly, I am not even sure you would need that to have a good time at Santini’s! And I can tell you from personal experience, you really are guaranteed a night to treasure, because not only is the food utterly exquisite and the cocktail menu to die for, the relaxed atmosphere at this stunning venue – steeped in a glorious history is… out of this world too!

Established back in 1984, Santini’s offers a superb menu of classic Italian food and wine served with a distinctive Santini’s twist! Designed with a strong Venetian accent, the menu is simply incredible and can only be described as a massive hug on a plate that literally ignites the senses. Now in it’s 30th year, my party and I had a ball at this intimate venue that seems to really come alive after 9pm. Trust me, it was buzzing and we visited early in the week!

Santini's restuarant evening dinner

Now headed by Laura Santtini (pictured) who is recognised as a global expert in flavour and as an award-winning author of the cookbook At home with Umami, this iconic venue has also played host to a wealth of stars and politicians over the years from Bill Clinton to Lisa Minelli and was also known to be Frank Sinatra’s favourite restaurant in London too!

So, if you are looking to add a little star dust to your Hen Party plans, Santini’s is definitely the location for you. And with private dining rooms at your disposal, you could even think about hosting an intimate wedding dinner or pre-wedding meal at this venue too!

For bookings click here

Santini's private dining room London wedding

London spa ideas for bride-to-be

M Spa Jacuzzi London

Whether you are on the hunt for the ultimate hen party pampering, or a little RnR time pre-wedding with the other half, I have uncovered a total nugget of loveliness for you and trust me – you will NOT be disappointed. If you depart leaving anything other than fabulous, I’ll massage you myself!

Yes The M SPA by Montcalm really is a rare contemporary haven of relaxation right in the heart of London’s tech city. And it’s super handy to reach too, being only a few minutes walk from Old Street Station. Open to the public since April 2015, I was particularly keen to see what this new spa-on-the-London-scene had to offer and as I am sure you can already gather… all expectations were superseded and then some!


With interiors by Versace, you can instantly imagine the wow factor on arrival. In fact, the entire hotel has a cool cutting edge feel about it the moment you walk through the door and this sense of innovation follows through the entire experience at the venue. I was greeted by my wonderful therapist Giovanna who kindly showed me around the spa before promptly slipping into my robe. Oh I do love a robe and that transformation from real life into a world of relaxation is simply unbeatable. Anyhoo time for a quick Elemis shower before heading straight-in for the main event… a jacuzzi, swim and iced lemon water poolside. #heaven

And to be fair I really did drift off thanks to the fact this spa is so well thought out in terms of not overcrowding to purposely offer a sense of exclusivity – a very important element I think for both a party with the girls or a time out with your partner. I could have stayed poolside for hours, but a full body massage awaited me and there was no way on Earth I was going to miss out on that!

Full body massage M Spa

Now I must admit, I have road tested quite a few spa’s in my time and often find hotel therapists a little disappointing, or rather light on substance/expertise shall we say. But hands down, this was actually the BEST deep tissue massage I have had to date. And I told Giovanna too! She was very happy I am pleased to say. Using a mix of various disciplines, Giovanna promptly deknotted and detoxed my body leaving me feeling refreshed and revitalised, ready for a night out on the town with some friends. A perfect tonic pre-event that’s for sure!

The carefully selected ranges used at this ultimate urban sanctuary are pretty fabulous too, with meticulously sourced products from both ila-spas organic collection and the results driven Natura Bissé skincare range.

Montcalm Hotel

The facilities are simply sensational and also include a massage room for two! Ideal for you and your partner to enjoy a treatment together. Plus there’s a sauna, steam room and light-experience showers for you to try out. Oh and even a state of the art gym if you fancy a de-stress workout pre-relax!


For full details and to book The M Spa by Montcalm London simply click here!

How to avoid the hen party from hell

Into the wood cover


How to avoid the hen do from hell!

Brand NEW thriller In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware tells the story of a hen do, which uncovers some secrets best kept hidden…

Leonora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her? As the champagne corks pop, the secrets begin to flow, and a hen do for an old school friend begins to take a sinister turn…

In A Dark Dark Wood is available to own now in hardback, and to celebrate here on the wedding fairy blog, we’re giving you some top tips on how to avoid a real-life hen do from hell!

1) Don’t hold a hen do at your home, unless you know all attendees well

The drinks are flowing, people are dancing, and the next thing you know, your family heirloom crystal swan given to you by Auntie Muriel has been smashed. Unless you can hide all valuables, or know and trust the hens implicitly, it’s probably best to hold the party elsewhere

2) Strippers, penis straws and Ann Summers parties are not for everyone

When the bride said no strippers or S&M gear, was she joking, or did she mean it? Not everyone is into debauchery and ‘last night as a single gal’ for their hen do, so take time to get hints from the bride and her friends as to what she’d really like to do. Then you can create a memorable event for the right reasons!

3) If you are going abroad, be mindful of budgets

It’s unlikely all attendees will earn the same or have similar amounts of disposable cash; we all have busy (and expensive) lives after all!  If you plan to go abroad, examine different options in different price brackets, and keep all attendees in the loop. Don’t be upset if you have drop-outs, its better they tell you now rather than not being able to afford dinner in Amsterdam!

4) Be wary of inviting relatives

Unless you are really close to the mother-in-law or other female relatives of the bride and groom, think twice about inviting them! They may not enjoy your booze soaked Chippendale fest and you don’t want the bride to be upset if they want to leave. Perhaps organise an afternoon tea or special brunch earlier in the day or the day after that they can attend.

5) Last but not least, Hen parties are NOT a competition to see who is closest to the bride

If you are the maid of honour, do listen to the other bridesmaids and hen’s opinions and suggestions for what to do for the party, to ensure everyone is well briefed and wants to take part in your chosen activities!

Find out more about In A Dark Dark Wood: bit.ly/inadarkdarkwoodDG

Guest blog feature written by Emily Darling


In a dark dark wood

Hen party detail


Me and the gang recently rocked an 80’s Butlins music weekend for a very special hen and beyond our spectacular outfits that paid homage to the era itself, I wanted to ensure we were armed with a suitable box of hen themed regalia to integrate at various junctions throughout our adventure. And as you can see, things kicked off in spectacular fashion the moment we boarded the train! Talk about setting the hen-scene and getting everyone in the mood for mischief… of course, some things in life are a classic for a reason and I include the obligatory ‘L plates’ in that category, but beyond this, there is now an incredible mix of hen-themed accessories available to help you get the hen party started…. phwaaaar – give us a kiss!


As I always say, the real drama is always in the detail and in this instance, I am talking about a real show stopper. To be fair, it’s pretty tricky to beat the random sailor in the background of this shot when it comes to stealing a scene, but hey, every bride-to-be needs a tiara to shine bright like a diamond for their big celebration and this beauty flashes ‘n’ everything. Step back Princess whoever, there is a new Cinderella on the block!

Anyway, enough with all this tempting! Where did I grab such wonderful hen-themed goodies I hear you cry! Well, my lovely friends over at PartyPieces sent me a box full of delights for us to test out and even though I was pretty confident such accessories would be a roaring success, I could not have predicted the outcome… everything got us talking – especially the do-it -yourself hen party booth kit! You can view the complete PartyPieces hen collection by clicking here

Alternatively, here is a rundown on the individual products I selected for our bash at Butlins!


Hen Party Bride to Be Flashing Tiara £3.99


Hen party photo booth kit £3.99


Hen party bride to be shot glass necklace £1.99


Hen night bride to be veil £3.49


Hen party bride to be L plate 69p


Hen party bride to be sash £1.69



Let’s Plan the Hen Party!

We talk trends, international destinations, budgets and parties with GoHen!

1. What do you see being the hot hen trends for 2013?

Over recent times we’ve seen more hens looking to try out something unusual on their hen party, and this is especially the case in 2013! Not content with your average hen party shenanigans we’ve seen a rise hens booking activities like Inflatable Games, the Somerset Challenge and the Highland Games, all of which are a bit quirky and unique. More hens are also looking to get crafty, with activities like chocolate making, lingerie making and cake decorating all set to be hot this year. Our girls still want the classic big night out however, so we predict our VIP nightclubbing entertainment will get even more popular!

2. You’re full of fabulous hen party advice, what would be your top three quick pointers for hens?

Thank you very much! There are a lot of pointers we’d give any first time hen, but if we had to narrow it down to three then they’d probably be:

1. Plan early to avoid disappointment

2. Keep on top of the finances- be fair but firm with your guests

3. Pack some amazing activities in to make it truly memorable


3. What’s the easiest way to add a touch of uniqueness to a hen party?

As mentioned before, unusual activities like the Somerset Challenge are super popular and great for making your hen party extra unique (how many people do you know have done welly hurling at their hen party?!) Fancy dress is another great way to add an extra fun element, and if you have a totally different theme then people should remember it for all the right reasons.


4. What are your favourite hen party themes?

There are so many ways to add a theme to your hen party and we love them all! A vintage theme is always fabulous- you can get into proper 50’s attire and go for afternoon tea! Alternatively a festival theme is always a winner and great on a budget as you can dig out your wellies and summer clothes rather than buying fancy new clothes.

5. And your favourite active hen party idea?

More hens are looking to be active on their hen party, wanting to have fun and tone up for the big day, so for active hens we’d recommend an activity like blo karting, clay shooting or kite surfing. Or if you want something active with a sweet reward at the end a chocolate treasure hunt is a whole lot of fun.


6. For a relaxing hen weekend, where’s the best place to start?

While we do get some hens looking to rush around and be active there’s also a large proportion that want a relaxing time with some girly pampering. Book yourselves a pampering day and be thoroughly looked after with massages, facials and saunas. After that indulge in a bit of wine tasting and then embark on a serene river cruise.

7. Any ideas for keeping all ages of guests happy at a hen party?

When organising any type of event it’s important to take all of the guests into account, and this is especially the case at a hen party when you’re booking activities and often a big night out. There are plenty of activities which are suitable no matter what the range of ages is, life drawing and cake decorating are suitable for all, and for the nights entertainment you could book a cabaret or comedy show instead of having a wild night out. It might be a good idea to draw up a list of activities you’d like to do and then talk to the older guests to see which ones they’d enjoy most.


8. Do you think it’s possible to have a hen party without breaking the bank?

Absolutely, as long as you have your favourite girls and a plan in place there’s no need to spend a fortune! There are also loads of ways to cut costs, the main one being to downgrade on accommodation. Do you really need a five star hotel if you’re only going to be spending a few hours there sleeping? You could also consider making your own games- why not write out dares or jazz up an old card game to suit? The last suggestion for cutting hen party costs is not to buy a brand new outfit- chances are you have something in your wardrobe already which will look fabulous.

9. What’s your favourite unusual hen party ideas?

We love the aforementioned Somerset Challenge and Inflatable Games- they’re both great for getting a bit active and having a giggle. Life drawing is a fab, unusual activity with a cheeky element, and a ghost tour can add a unique touch to your evening! Alternatively there are loads of dance activities which are slightly unusual to take part in- why not have a belly dancing class or make like Baby with a Dirty Dancing lesson?


10. And last but not least, any advice for hens organising a hen party in 2013?

2013 is all about making your hen party as amazing as it can possibly be- add unusual activities, make sure you’ve got your big night planned out and invite all of your favourite people! Stay on top of the money and make sure you take everyone’s budgets into account, and book early (especially if you’re going abroad as flights tend to be cheaper). Overall though just enjoy the night, it’s all about celebrating an upcoming marriage and a hen party presents the perfect opportunity to have a giggle and a gossip with the girls!

For more help and advice check out the GoHen blog – The Clucker!