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For a city famous for its soothing spas, Bath is currently awash with something other than mineral rich bathing water – hen parties.

That’s because brides-to-be are increasingly turning to leafy corners of the country for a final weekend of fun before saying ‘I do’.

Bath, along with the likes of York and Edinburgh, have emerged as holistic hen havens since covid restrictions were lifted, and their popularity forms part of a growing trend towards hens seeking more “Instagrammable” destinations for their big send-off into married life.

Bridal bookings to Auld Reekie alone have rocketed by a staggering 177 per cent in the last 12 months alone, while trips to York have almost doubled.

According to leading stag and hen do supplier Last Night of Freedom, these destinations are now comfortably outselling some of Europe’s biggest party hotspots.

“We sold more than five times as many hen party trips to Edinburgh last year than we did to Barcelona,” said the company’s Managing Director Matt Mavir.

“Demand for more Instagrammable destinations has skyrocketed since covid. Being in lockdown has made people realise they want to be together and for once-in-a-blue-moon events like a hen weekend, they want to go somewhere that looks and feels amazing.”

And according to Matt, it isn’t just the locations that are becoming more sophisticated.

Once dominated by plastic tat and possibly a game of paintballing, hen weekends are becoming increasingly lavish affairs.

Instead of ‘L’ plates, brides are instead spending their weekend away focussing on wellness and some much-needed R&R as they use the hen do to both celebrate their loved one’s upcoming nuptials – and escape the stresses of modern life.

And there’s also far less emphasis on booze.

“What we are increasingly seeing is demand for hens who would rather spend their weekend being pampered in a five-star spa in Edinburgh or Bath rather than a bar crawl in some city they’ve probably been out in three or four times already,” added Matt.

“A lot of these groups are professional women – doctors, bankers and lawyers – and many don’t want the stereotypical hen experience.

“If they book an activity, it isn’t going to be a stripper – it is more likely to be a craft or dance workshop to learn a routine to perform at their wedding, a spa package or even mobile yoga, which is so popular we now offer it almost everywhere. And they want a weekend of high-class cocktails, Champagne, fine dining and massages which is why the likes of York and Bath are viewed as the perfect retreat.

While Liverpool and Newcastle have long been Britain’s biggest pre-wedding party hotspots, several leafier destinations are now hot on their heels.

And the scenic Scottish capital has crept up just behind them, fuelled by the astonishing triple-figure increase in hen bookings alone last year.

That’s despite some figures, including a local resident’s group, wanting civic leaders to follow the recent lead of Amsterdam in trying to deter stags and hens to Edinburgh.

While York is currently the sixth biggest UK hen destination and Bath slightly further back, Matt said their emergence as party meccas has simply been “astonishing” – with hen bookings to York alone up 85 per cent since the pandemic.

However, that boom isn’t without controversy.

The city’s meteoric rise as a party hotspot has been met with fierce opposition from York’s Labour MP, Rachael Maskell, who claimed groups were bringing “devastation” to the suburbs, while insisting locals were too scared to even enter the city centre at the weekend.

The city’s council even got involved, creating a guide for revellers in a bid to curb the misbehaviour Matt maintains has been exaggerated “for political point scoring” with the locals.

“To say stags are to blame fault is complete hyperbole – York and Bath are pretty much stag party ghost towns,” added the businessman.

“In York, hens outnumber stags by around seven to one and we only have one group of stags heading to Bath in the first half of 2023.’

“Edinburgh, York and Bath are not the sort of places people are visiting to tie each other up on lampposts – they are attracting a new breed of classy hens that want to bond in style.”

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