Planning a hen do can be quite a challenge. Firstly, you’re tasked with organising a large group of women who are usually all into very different things, but when everyone is paying a fair amount for the trip you want to ensure they are all happy. This was very much the case for my friend’s hen do – the bride gave us the destination she wanted and left the rest to us.
We decided to fly to Amsterdam with a budget airline to save some money. The flight time from UK airports is an hour to just over an hour-and-a-half, so it’s ideal for a weekend break.
There are also a couple of no-fly options to Amsterdam. You could catch a train from St Pancras International, which takes just under four hours, or you could hop on an overnight ferry from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Anyone who has been to Amsterdam before knows it’s popular for hen and stag parties but be aware that when finding somewhere to stay for a large group, apartments are pretty much out of the question. The buildings here are very narrow and if you need to sleep 10 people or more, it’s almost impossible to find anywhere big enough.
Hotels in Amsterdam at the height of summer can be expensive, so we decided to go with a hostel. As hostels go, I would highly recommend Stayokay Vondelpark: it was still on the pricey side, but it was the cheapest and best option for such a large group.
The location was great – it was a bit further out from the centre but in a lovely hip area next to Vondelpark. The rooms were basic and had bunk beds, but that’s all you really need on a hen do! The downstairs bar and restaurant area was bright and trendy, and exactly what we needed.
What to do
On the Friday evening we started off at a canalside bar-restaurant called Waterkant that was only a five-minute walk from our hostel. There was a great vibe here, everyone was sitting outside next to the water, the food was good quality and reasonably priced, and the drinks were flowing. We moved onto the Red Light District and did a bit of a bar crawl. We had no set plan, but this worked out well as its such as fascinating area to walk around at night and you will easily find plenty of bars.
The Dutch love bikes so much that you can actually cycle through the Rijksmuseum, so on the Saturday we decided to experience the city from the locals’ favourite mode of transport. We hired bikes for three hours and it was one of the highlights of the trip for all of us, hopping from various different bars and restaurants and getting to see how beautiful Amsterdam really is. We cycled over to Amsterdam Roest for lunch – a really cool venue with lots of indoor and outdoor seating. It served delicious food (again at a reasonable price) and the staff were great.
Next up was a booze cruise, which was another highlight. I would highly recommend booking one – there are lots of companies to choose from, they last around an hour, and all alcohol is included in the price. The boat trip was also an excellent chance for us to play the usual hen party games.
On the Saturday evening, we decided to go somewhere a little more upmarket for dinner and decided on Mata Hari. I could not recommend this place highly enough, the food was incredible and the cocktails? Amazing! It was a special start to the evening and an excuse for us to get dressed up. After dinner we headed to Melkweg, which was near our hostel – this is a huge venue that has various different club nights where you can dance the night away.
On our last day we decided to take our sore heads for some lunch at the nearby Foodhallen before we had to fly home. This place will suit everyone’s tastes as it has lots of different food stalls serving all kinds of cuisines, it also happens to be in an amazing building that is perfect for some last minute shopping and/or drinking.
It’s hard to keep everyone happy but I know we all left buzzing after having such a good time. Amsterdam really is a fantastic place for a hen do, so grab those suggestively shaped straws, a veil, a big group of mates, and go wild!
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