While Amsterdam, Ibiza, and Miami are certainly exciting destinations to consider when planning a hen party or bachelorette weekend, we’re a bit tired of reliving the same trip every time we’re asked to be in a wedding.
Thankfully, Ragan Stone, luxury travel expert and co-founder of The Travel Studio, and the team at Essentialist, have some brilliant advice for planning a unique, unforgettable trip that your entire bridal party will actually get excited about.
“I think the biggest thing to start with is thinking about the environment you’re looking for,” says Stone. “The normal perception of this type of trip is go-go-go, but there’s a lot more that people are seeking to get out of bachelorette weekends these days, whether it’s being a more wellness-oriented trip or having a focus on food and drink. Understand the type of vibe you’re going for first, so you don’t plan an all-out last bash if your bride is ready to unwind or vice versa.”
The Essentialist team says one way to ensure everyone has a fabulous trip is to choose a destination that is a healthy balance between a tranquil spa weekend and a wild island bonanza. They advise finding a place that offers a mix: great scenery (i.e. beaches, historic city, or mountains), amazing restaurants, and some adventure or cultural activities. Plus, Stone says that she’s getting more and more requests for curated experiences on bachelorette itineraries, whether that’s a private cellar dinner at the bride’s favourite winery or chartering an antique catamaran for a stylish island excursion to nearby islands.
The possibilities are endless these days, so we’ve narrowed it down to 12 incredible destinations that offer a little bit of everything – not to mention impeccable accommodations – with the help of our trusty travel experts.
We’ll admit, Saint-Tropez is much easier to get to, but St. Barth’s offers all the glamour, French fare, and fabulous resorts with less hassle. Stone says that this French Caribbean island is a great alternative if you’re dreaming of the French Riviera but want something stress-free or out of season. She notes that the island has an excellent beach club scene, offering something for every type of traveller, and it’s very safe.
Get your fix at the stunning Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth’s, which is home to French-inspired spa treatments and shopping, two secluded beaches, endless activities, and a wide variety of Caribbean chic accommodations. Book your stay at one of the property’s Signature Suites, standalone cottages that can fit up to seven guests, each with their own breath-taking private outdoor spaces.
Another excellent destination for getting a taste of Europe without experiencing an overwhelming throng of post-pandemic tourists, Montreal is a top pick from the Essentialist team. The experts say that while it’s not the typical North American bachelorette destination, Montreal offers all the nightlife, outdoor activities, and fashionable accommodations you could want – not to mention spectacular architecture at every turn.
The design-centric Hotel William Gray is our top pick for a hen party, as it’s known for having one of the best spas in the city (if not in all of Canada) and features dozens of experiences for every type of wellness junkie. What’s more, it has a fabulous rooftop terrace where you can sip and savour French favourites while taking in the gorgeous views of Old Montreal.
Stone suggests thinking outside the Amalfi Coast box when planning an Italian escape and advises looking to places like Sardinia, the Tuscan Islands, or Sicily for a lavish weekend that doesn’t involve sitting in so much traffic or overrun (and overpriced) beach clubs. You’ll still get the glamorous riviera feel in elegant Taormina, which offers gorgeous views of Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea, plus plenty of lavish accommodations.
You simply can’t go wrong with a Belmond property and Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, makes an idyllic home base for a girls’ retreat with your inner circle. Soak up the sun on its private beaches, enjoy ‘villeggiatura’ on a Sicilian boat tour, and indulge in a wine tasting from this burgeoning region for the ultimate bachelorette weekend.
Portugal is white-hot right now in terms of being a top travel destination, but Stone likes to think beyond Lisbon and Porto for an extra-special girls’ weekend. One of her favourite areas to recommend to clients is the Comporta region, which is known for its slew of wellness hotels, great food, and beaches. Plus, it’s easy to get to and there are plenty of wine experiences to enjoy on your itinerary.
She suggests booking your stay at Quinta da Comporta, a wellness-centric boutique hotel that features villas and townhouses that allows guests to enjoy the best of hotel amenities and residential living. Plus, it keeps your gang together and makes things a bit more affordable.
“It’s the kind of place you think of when imagining being with all your girlfriends – very idyllic,” says Stone. “There’s this huge infinity-style pool that’s over 100-feet long and the property looks out over the countryside, but you’re also just a quick drive to the beach and the town of Comporta.”
San Diego, US
Stone says that San Diego is a highly underrated travel destination in the US and would make for a lovely hen party – if you’re willing to take on the major time zone change. She says it’s an easy destination to fly to, the beaches are lovely, and the food scene is fantastic. Oh, and traffic is a far cry from that of LA.
Mark your long weekend territory at Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas for a luxurious taste of the San Diego coastline. Take a surf lesson, admire the views via seaplane, start your day with a fitness class on the beach, and indulge in ocean-inspired spa treatments. You’ll feel like a true Southern Californian in no time.
Bermuda is another unique island destination for bachelorettes seeking something out of the ordinary. Famous for housing some of the world’s best beaches and other natural wonders, this place is truly a sight to behold. Plus, there’s a deeply seated rum culture to experience at the infamous Swizzle Inn and you can still get your afternoon tea fix at the picturesque Lili Bermuda Perfumery.
Where better to stay in Bermuda for a hen party than a pink palace? Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Cluboffers all the amenities you could dream of (including one of the world’s best art collections), and its Premium Suites are ideal for a small group to stay in one place.
Paros has emerged as a sought-after Greek isle for its historical sites, water sports, and charming villages, and the isle moves at a slower pace than Mykonos and Santorini. Stone says there’s a lovely casual feel about the island and it’s easy to get around, but there’s still a lively nightlife scene here. Plus, it’s the most central of the Cyclades, so you can rent a catamaran or take a ferry to explore the surrounding islands for the day or overnight. (Stone says if you have an adventurous group, you could even consider chartering a catamaran to live on for the weekend – chef and staff included).
The Thinking Traveller offers an array of picture-perfect villas across Paros, from stylish houses with infinity pools overlooking the sea that sleep up to 14 to historic cottages with luxuriant gardens. Stone advises coordinating a private chef and in-house spa experiences for larger groups and The Thinking Traveller offers numerous experiences for its guests to ensure it will be an easy-breezy getaway to remember.
New York City, US
Interestingly, Stone says that New York City is one of the most underrated bachelorette destinations, including for Americans. She believes that large, easily accessible cities will return as top bachelorette destinations in the coming years, and The Big Apple is one of her favourite cities for a fabulous, frivolous girls weekend.
Where better else to stay than the iconic Plaza Hotel? Aptly seated just off Fifth Avenue and in front of Central Park South, this property is sure to set a perfect tone for a lavish big-city weekend. Be sure to enjoy afternoon tea at The Palm Court restaurant and book one of the multi-room suites to keep your crew together for the entirety of the trip.
It’s no secret that Spain is a popular destination for hen parties, but the Essentialist team suggests opting for Seville, as it’s home to excellent food, nightlife and culture, and warm weather – what more could you ask for? This Andalusian city is full of tradition, beauty, and vibrancy that will leave you wanting more.
Our pick for a stylish stay in Seville is the Instagram-worthy Triana House, named after the utterly charming, historic neighbourhood it resides in. Start your day together with breakfast in the courtyard before perusing the Triana Market, taking a flamenco class, or shopping for traditional Andalusian pottery and other mementos from what’s sure to be a trip to remember.
The Middle East has been experiencing a serious Golden Age of travel over the last decade, with some of the world’s most breath-taking accommodations residing in locales like Dubai, Doha, and Al’Ula. The Essentialist advises choosing Dubai for an extra-special bachelorette weekend, as there’s plenty of opportunity for both pampering and adventure.
While there’s an array of spectacular properties to land for the weekend, few shine as bright as Bulgari Resort Dubai on the exclusive Jumeirah Bay. The hotel has the feel of a chic Mediterranean village while offering all the upscale amenities one could desire in a top-tier resort. Home to a renowned private beach club, a 1,700 square meter spa, and the brand’s first yacht club, you’ll be tempted to stay put until your flight home.
French Countryside, France
While Stone says that Paris is an eternally popular request for girls’ trips of all kinds (bachelorette weekends included), she likes to steer clients a bit farther out for a more unique experience. Finding the perfect chateau an hour or two outside of the city ensures you can enjoy the best of city and country and choose an evening or afternoon to venture to Paris for a bit more vibrancy and revelry. Plus, your crew will certainly settle into castle life very well.
One of Stone’s favourite destinations to steer guests towards is the impeccable Domaine de Primard, former home of Catherine Deneuve. Stunning gardens and wildlife, cooking classes, a Susanne Kaufmann spa, and plenty of opportunities for private experiences will ensure you’ll be planning a reunion trip as you pack your things.
Consider Nantucket a 90s J.Crew catalogue that has come to life. There’s something so special about this New England isle that will have you smitten with the place as soon as the seaplane lands from Boston or New York City. Historic, shingle-style homes and shops line the cobblestone streets and idyllic eateries can be found all over the island. Plus, there is plenty of excellent shopping to be had in between ventures to hydrangea-lined Sconset Beach and lunches at Cisco Brewers.
White Elephant Nantucket is the ultimate home base for visitors, and its residence-style offerings are perfect for small parties. Pick up one of the hotel’s pastel-coloured bicycles (or a self-driving BMW) to get around the island but make sure to be back in time to catch golden hour at Brant Point Grill or cocktails on the lawn at the hotel’s sister property, The Wauwinet. You’d be hard pressed to find a better view of Nantucket.