Stag & Hen Ideas Barcelona
Published date: 1st January 2018
Barcelona is arguably Europe’s coolest city, somewhere that manages to balance business and pleasure better than just about anywhere on the continent. It has a population of around 2 million, spreading along the Mediterranean coast and back into the hills behind, but for visitors Barca can feel like a few villages conveniently close together, the Port Olimpic, La Rambla, Gracia, Barceloneta, Ciutat Vella and Eixample pretty much walkable one from the next, though there are always black and yellow cabs nearby for tired feet, a great Metro, and the option for Stags and Hens of a limo or dedicated tour bus. Bicycle tours are a smart left-field option that will set up your appetite (and thirst) while making you feel virtuous.
Why is Barcelona cool? It’s partly the Catalan spirit – their national identity suppressed under Franco kept alive in special foods, cultural customs like the weird human towers seen at fiestas, the Sardana circle dance, and a deep love of their city’s main football team. And partly the magnificent architecture – if you can look at Gaudi’s buildings and not feel simultaneously amused and impressed take a lie down – from medieval via art-deco-on-morphine to contemporary. And it’s partly the location – hills and beaches, such a great climate, and a cultural crossroads for millennia – the Greeks, Romans and Arabs all playing their part. Recent history hasn’t hurt either, the ’92 Olympics meaning the city was spruced up, its hotel and restaurant provision augmented brilliantly.
All the usual activities are to be found here, though there is a decided local twist for those who want it. For Stags the by now traditional paintballing is of course ready and waiting, along with karting, golf, quad-biking and 4×4 events. The local element comes in with jet-skis and other water activities (and thankfully the water is usually warm because someone inevitably is going in), and a potential pilgrimage to the Nou Camp stadium, either to do the ground tour thing with a stop at the museum, or with a bit of planning watching a match.
For Hens the same stuff applies, plus to broaden things out how about a visit to a restored Arab bath-house? Or a Flamenco show? Or chartering a yacht? Or learning how to cook Spanish-style (not to be sexist that will appeal to plenty of guys too), with Paella a passion here? Cocktail making? You can do the full Spa experience in style with ease as well. And this is a fantastic city for shopping (guys too again), as stylish as Paris or Milan. The chain stores and independent boutiques on the Passeig de Gracia and Diagonal merit a detour, and the massive Corte Ingles department store on Plaza Catalunya will be able to supply the something new for your wedding day no problem.
Some of the seedier aspects of the stag do are of course on tap – and fun – but maybe a bit out of place here – better to make the most of the city’s unique charms. That probably begins after your daytime activity exertions in mid-afternoon with a tapas meal (anywhere but actually on La Rambla unless you enjoy paying too much) and a glass of something – a cold beer or maybe cava – sitting outside watching the world go by. So civilised, so relaxing. You need something to tide you over as the evening meal won’t happen until about 10pm (don’t even think about eating at English or even French hours, or you’ll be alone in the restaurant and feel like Billies-sin-amigos).
The bars and clubs start to get lively at 11pm or midnight. Again, La Rambla has some interesting spots but the locals probably won’t be there in numbers – best to get an organising company with a base in Barca to set things up for you – pre-booking to avoid queues, finding the best places that won’t break the bank, and helping out with the language if your Spanish and/or Catalan is a bit rusty. They can sort your accommodation too, with suitable hotels or apartments.
Barcelona is a fabulous venue for Stag and Hen parties that you will want to remember, rather than hope to forget. The stylishness rubs off on you, the underlying excitement grabs you, and the laid-back attitude to enjoying life is perfect for the sort of brilliant break that makes you feel good and won’t leave permanent liver damage. Enjoy.
Hollie is a consumer magazine journalist with over seven years of experience working in the wedding industry as Lifestyle Editor for You & Your Wedding magazine. Also a Regional Editor for Muddy Stilettos, Holly has written for Square Meal magazine, Family History Monthly, BBC History magazine and Homes & Antiques.