Struggling to put together the ultimate stag weekend? We list the ideal requirements so it's one to remember (or perhaps one to forget).
First thing's first. If you're planning a good old fashioned British stag do, it isn’t some fancy bachelor party or bonding weekend. There's nothing cultural to gulp over here, nor relatively healthy or life affirming by design. Men of the stag weekend have simple needs: most probably booze, women and a bed to crash out on.
1. Transport links
Getting a bunch of blokes together in one place is a tough task at the best of times - it’s like herding puppies. And as men get older, they have additional familial and professional responsibilities to juggle. So it might make it incrementally easier if the stag do destination has excellent transport links. A good rail hub is ideal, especially in the UK, because you can top and tail the main event with a curtain-raiser and an aperitif; namely a few drinks on the train coming to and leaving the destination.
A nearby airport is also essential if the stag do destination is overseas, but can be handy in the UK too, if you have guests coming from far-flung corners. Good roads are a distant third as who really likes driving to a stag weekend - the dread of doing the return journey with a monumental hangover tends to dampen the party spirit.
Finally, no one to our knowledge ever plans to travel by sea to a stag weekend. That can only end in tragedy.
It’s obvious that you will need a bed to crawl into after the evening’s (and possibly morning’s) revelries have drawn to a close, and perhaps quantity is better than quality in this situation.
Ideally all the guests should be staying in the same hotel or apartment - it helps to get the party started and when everyone is trying to get back to the same place at the end.
So the best stag do destinations have plenty of cheap hotels, ideally located in or near the main nightlife areas. It also helps if the hotels are happy to accept group bookings from single-sex parties - or better still, offer group discounts.
Seems a bit of a no-brainer, this, but a stag do cannot sustain itself on the energy and activity of the guests alone. That’s why the perfect stag do destination has a fun cluster of pubs, bars and clubs in relatively close proximity to each other and the accommodation. (Nothing is less conducive to partying than a 20-minute wait for a 30-minute bus journey).
The bars and clubs should also be group-friendly so it pays to plan ahead and check their admission policy via the website or phone. You’ll be surprised how many bars and clubs in supposedly stag and hen-friendly destinations bar admission to single-sex groups. Probably because they want to provide an alternative for customers who don’t want loud, drunken and boisterous groups of people invading their personal space.
The other advantage of having all the nightlife in a relatively confined area is that it gives you a better chance of bumping into hen nights - which is catnip to the red-blooded group of stags.
4. Group Events
Strange as it may seem, but there’s more to a quality stag weekend than getting boozy.
Men need more than grape and maiden to bond fully - and this missing adhesive is provided by the group activity. Inevitably this should be something suitably 'bloke-y', such as shooting, driving, go-karting, white-water rafting, paintballing, gambling - you get the idea.
Schedule anything physically strenuous on the first day of the stag weekend - there’s nothing worse than a bunch of queasy, hungover blokes in canoes wishing they were somewhere else.
5. Nice scenery and climate
While pleasant scenery and a good climate aren’t essentials to a great stag do, they certainly come very high on the nice-to-have list. Lying on a warm beach admiring the view (and surroundings) is one of the nicer ways to nurse a hangover. Eating a Greggs baked bean slice on a windswept and rain-lashed northern high street is less appealing.
6. Tolerance to single-sex groups
Stag and hen parties can generate lots of money for the local tourist trade, from hotels to bars to nightclubs to taxi drivers. But understandably, large, rowdy and often drunken all-male groups can annoy other people. Which is why existing popular stag do destinations remain popular - they not only tick all the boxes above, but they also have a history of tolerance and even warmth towards stag and hen parties.
If you plan a stag do in a place which doesn’t have a tradition of hosting large groups of men or women then you run the risk of being denied admission or refused service at local pubs, clubs and restaurants. And even in places that are famous for being a popular stag do destination, there will be plenty of establishments that will still reserve the right to refuse admission and service - locals like to have an oasis of calm free from invading hordes. So always check any itinerary in advance to ensure the places you intend to visit will let you in - and ideally, will set aside a reserved area or table for your benefit.