Planning a hen weekend for the bride-to-be is no mean feat. Any Maid of Honour in charge of organising a hen do will be familiar with the phrases, "but I can't do that weekend", "that's too expensive" or "can I let you know?"
To find the perfect hen do destination that suits everyone's tastes and budgets, the team at OnBuy looked into 40 of the top UK cities to identify which city should be crowned the "hen do capital".
The hen do index
Our Hen Do Index takes into account a variety of different factors to generate a "score" for each of the 40 UK cities considered, winning points for having the most popular activities to partake in on a hen party, and having points deducted for expense. Essentially, the higher the score, the better the location for hosting a hen party.
We analysed several variables in our research, including the number of male strip clubs, cocktail bars, nightclubs and karaoke bars, as well as the average price of AirBnb accommodation in each city for one night, alcoholic drinks and taxis (per kilometre).
The 10 best UK hen party destinations
Where should you take the bridal party to celebrate the bride-to-be? Our analysis can reveal that the following cities are the best UK hen party locations, scoring the highest in our Hen Do Index:
- Liverpool: 720 points
- Birmingham: 710 points
- Glasgow: 650 points
- Bristol: 520 points
- Cardiff: 510 points
- Edinburgh: 480 points
- Leeds: 440 points
- Sheffield: 420 points
- Northampton: 410 points
- Newcastle-upon-Tyne: 390 points
Scoring a whopping 720 points in our Hen Do Index and topping the list is Liverpool - OnBuy's "hen do capital of the UK". The city's nightlife options are endless, including a staggering 19 cocktail bars, 16 nightclubs and 3 karaoke bars!
What's more, the city has one of the cheapest prices for a pint too, costing just £3.84 - it's no wonder Liverpool is a popular hotspot for partygoers!
Missing out on first place by just 10 points is Birmingham, scoring 710. This West Midlands city has an impressive 20 cocktail bars (the most out of all UK cities), as well as two strip clubs and 17 nightclubs - the third-highest number in the UK.
Rounding off the top three is the Scottish city of Glasgow, scoring 650 points. The city boasts an impressive 19 nightclubs, 18 cocktail bars, 4 karaoke bars, 3 strip clubs, as well as one of the cheapest AirBnb prices - just £74 for one night.
In seventh place is Leeds with a score of 440. When considering the average AirBnb price (£79.00), alcohol price (£3.72) and taxi price (£0.93 per km), this city is a great cost-effective destination for a hen do in the UK.
Rounding off the top 10 is Newcastle-upon-Tyne - also known as 'The Toon' - with a score of 390. The vibrant city, home to 18 cocktail bars and 9 nightclubs, is the cheapest city for a one-night stay among the top 10 hen do destinations.
The 10 worst UK hen party destinations
Our research can reveal that the following cities are the worst hen do locations in the UK, scoring the lowest in our Hen Do Index:
- Gloucester: -240 points
- Coventry: -110 points
- Newport: -60 points
- Oxford: -10 points
- Reading: -10 points
- Swansea: -10 points
- Bradford: 0 points
- Cambridge: 60 points
- Sunderland: 70 points
- Wolverhampton: 80 points
According to our analysis, Gloucester wins the title of worst location for hosting a hen party, with a negative score of -240 points. It's hardly surprising when the city is below average in almost all areas considered, with the city having zero nightclubs and male strip clubs, one karaoke bar and just 4 cocktail bars. Despite this, the city is fairly cheap to visit, with the average AirBnb price costing £80 for one night.
Coventry is the second lowest-scoring city in our Hen Do Index, scoring -110 points. The city, based in the West Midlands, has one of the worst nightlife experiences, with just 4 cocktail bars, one karaoke bar, and no strip clubs. Despite this, Coventry is home to an impressive 7 nightclubs and one of the cheapest AirBnb rates for a one-night stay (£71).
If you want to hold a hen do in the West Midlands, it might be worth hiring accommodation in Coventry and travel 20 miles down the road to the neighbouring city of Birmingham to soak up their club scene, which ranks as the second best hen do location in the UK!
The third worst scoring city in our Hen Do Index is the Welsh city of Newport. With just a few nightlife spots (4 cocktail bars and 1 nightclub) and an eye-watering £249 for a one-night stay on average, it's no surprise that the city scores -60 in our Hen Do Index.
Rounding off the worst 10 hen do locations in the UK is Wolverhampton, scoring 80 points. Despite not having many nightlife options, the West Midlands city has a variety of retail options. In fact, retail units make up 45% of total land retail units on the high street of Wolverhampton - the second highest of all 40 cities considered - so it's the perfect location for hens craving some retail therapy.
So, if partying isn't your "thing", Wolverhampton might be one to consider, as the city has one of the cheapest prices for a one-night stay, pint of beer and taxi, costing £71, £3 and 99p (per km), respectively.
Shutterstock / Roman Samborskyi
Which UK city is the best value?
Everyone knows that hen parties are rarely cheap. In fact, according to research by Culture Trip, the average cost of a hen do is a whopping £616 per person!
Our Hen Do Index factored in how much the average pint costs, the price of a one-night stay, as well as how much a taxi costs per kilometre in each city, to identify which UK city is the cheapest, to keep the expenses to a minimum.
Price of a pint
The price of alcohol is perhaps one of the most - if not the most - important aspects for the Maid of Honour to consider when planning a hen do, right? Everyone knows that drinking is a common occurrence, and playing over the odds for an alcoholic beverage could be a major turn-off for hen-goers!
Our analysis can reveal that the cheapest price for a pint can be found in Oxford, costing just £2.29! Following in second and third are the Northern Irish cities of Armagh and Newry, setting you back just £2.78 and £2.80 for a pint.
All under £3 for a pint are Newport in Wales (£2.93), Bournemouth (£2.98), and Wolverhampton and Bradford costing £2.93. In the Scottish city of Dundee, you can expect to pay £3 on-the-nose.
These prices are a far cry away from London where a single pint can cost an eye-watering £5.19! The second most expensive pint can be found in Cambridge for £4.91, and £4.74 in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.
Also high on the priority list is how much accommodation costs. Most hen parties today opt for AirBnb properties over hotels as they can be personalised and allow everyone to stay together under one roof. With this in mind, we sought to find out which city is home to the cheapest average cost of an AirBnb property for one night.
Topping the list is Kingston upon Hull, with a single night's stay costing just under £50! A staggering £215 cheaper than the Welsh city of Cardiff that tops the list as the most expensive UK destination to spend one night.
In second place is Leicester, costing an average of £62 for an AirBnb property, Newcastle-upon-Tyne is in third costing one pound more (£63), and Peterborough is in fourth (£66).
Understandably, our research found that the most expensive AirBnb properties are found within popular UK cities, including Liverpool, Edinburgh, London and Manchester, costing £115, £108, £105 and £100 per night respectively, so it's worth bearing this in mind when booking a hen party in the UK.
Taxi prices (per kilometre)
Depending on where you're staying, you will need a taxi to arrive at your desired destination as, after all, no one wants to be the designated driver on a hen do! If you're thinking of opting for a taxi to get around town, the following cities have the cheapest taxi fares per kilometre.
Bradford comes out on top, costing just 75p per kilometre, followed by Kingston upon Hull, Stoke-on-Trent, Leeds and Liverpool costing 93p, and Wolverhampton and Sheffield just shy of £1.
Our research found that the most expensive taxis can be found in Northern Ireland, with the cities of Newry and Armagh costing £2.17 and £2 respectively. Unsurprisingly, the capital of England also costs £2 per kilometre.
Shutterstock / Pixel-Shot
Which UK city has the best nightlife?
For most hens, nightlife is vital - whether you're hankering after a night on the tiles, or a civilised glass of fizz in a fancy cocktail bar. With this in mind, we sought to find out which UK city is best equipped for the best hen night by looking at how many cocktail bars, nightclubs, karaoke bars and strip clubs each city has to offer.
If you're not interested in a night on the town and you're looking for a fancy bar to sip of cocktail after cocktail, our Hen Do Index has identified the cities with the most cocktail bars on offer.
In joint first place, each having a total of 20 cocktail bars to sample countless Pornstar Martinis, Margaritas and more, is Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Northampton and Nottingham.
Thereafter is Liverpool and Bristol, who both have 19 cocktail bars on offer within the city, and in joint third is Oxford, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds and Glasgow, each with 18.
However, our research can reveal that the following cities are the worst, with just a few cocktail bars to choose from:
- Peterborough (1)
- Bradford (1)
- Armagh, NI (1)
- Newry, NI (2)
- Dundee (3)
If you're looking to go all out with flashing glow sticks and tacky disco music, nightclubs are a must for your hen party itinerary - and you'll be pleased to know that the choices are endless!
The choice is endless in Bristol and London where you can choose from an impressive 20 nightclubs - whether you're looking for a classy establishment or a cheese-fest, these cities will have your needs covered! Next up is Manchester and Glasgow, each boasting 19 nightclubs each, followed by Birmingham in third with 17 clubs to let your hair down to.
Despite being crowned the best hen party city in our Hen Do Index, Liverpool has the fourth highest number of nightclubs out of the top 10 cities, alongside the Northern Irish city of Belfast, with 16 nightclubs to dance the night away in!
If a nightclub is a must, you might want to avoid going to Peterborough, Armagh, Newry, Newport and Swansea as they only have one nightclub with a four-star rating or more, and Gloucester has none!
If you're a dab-hand at singing (or you think you are after a few drinks), you might like to visit a karaoke bar whilst on a hen do. Whilst not as popular as nightclubs or cocktail bars, there is still plenty of choice among the top 10 hen do cities in our Hen Do Index.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, London is home to the most karaoke bars in the UK, with a staggering 19 bars to sing your favourite songs to sing at the top of your lungs. In second place is the Scottish city of Edinburgh, with a choice of 6 bars to choose from - a staggering 13 less than the English capital!
Third goes to Glasgow and Bournemouth with 4 each to choose from, and Liverpool, Birmingham and Sheffield each have 3.
From the top 10 best hen do locations identified in our Hen Do Index, each city has at least one karaoke bar except Northampton with none at all.
Strip bars may not be everyone's cup of tea, but many ladies revel in watching a bit of eye-candy before getting hitched! With just a few dotted around the UK, if a strip bar is a must on your hen's itinerary, you might want to know which city has one on offer!
We can reveal that London and Edinburgh top the list with 3 strip bars to take your pick from! Birmingham and Bristol come second, with 2 strip bars located in the city centre, and joint third goes to the following cities for just one:
The rest of the UK cities we analysed had none at all.
Shutterstock / William Perugini
Which city is the best for retail therapy?
Whilst not a "must" for every hen do, us Brits can't resist a bit of retail therapy. We looked into which cities have the most retail cover to identify which cities have the most retail shops available.
Of all cities analysed, surprisingly Stoke-on-Trent comes out on top for having the most retail shops - in fact, our research can reveal that 53% of the city is taken up by retail shops! Following closely behind with the second-highest coverage of retail shops is London and Wolverhampton, with 45%.
Out of the top 10 hen party destinations in the UK, Leeds comes first with 40% of the city taken up by retail shops! In second place is Newcastle-upon-Tyne with a third of city centre space being inhabited by retail stores, and Sheffield comes third with 32%.
On the other hand, Edinburgh has the least amount of retail shops, with just 15% of the city being retail. But when the city has the most cocktail bars, karaoke bars and strip bars, it's hardly lacking in entertainment!
- An index was created with scores, and attributed values based on researching most popular activities to undertake during a hen do.
- Data for the number of male strip clubs, cocktail bars, nightclubs and karaoke bars were found via Google Maps searches.
- For venues classified and included in one of the four nightlife categories, they had to have the following criteria: 4 star or more average review rating, categorised within Google as a corresponding destination type, counted from the first 20 search results.
- For the average cost of a taxi (per Km) data was taken from Numbeo.
- For the crime rate, the three-year rolling average of crime per population of 1,000 was used. Only burglaries, robberies, violence against the person with injury was counted.
- For Airbnb, the average price of accommodation for one night in each city was found.
- With regards to shopping, data was taken from the Office of National Statistics who show retail as % of total land use on the high street.
- For alcohol price, data from Finder.com was used to find out the average price for a pint of beer in each of the respective cities.
- A city was attributed the respective index score they received if their figure for a given variable ranked above or below the average.
- Since male strip clubs and karaoke bars were an exception to the preceding rules, due to their rarity - a city was awarded the index score if it simply had at least one male strip club and/or karaoke bar.
- Where data was unavailable, a neutral 0 was awarded.
- The variables used have varying units of measurement. To resolve this, each measure was standardised by calculating the value based on the percentile rank within the sample countries. For instance, the price of alcohol in Glasgow is relatively expensive at £4.91 per pint, therefore it is placed in the top 10th percentile and assigned a comparable rank value of 100.
- Where data was unavailable, a score of 50 was assigned.
- The rank value was then multiplied by the respective index score (3, 2, 1, -1, -2, -3) in order to obtain the final score values.