Few words induce more dread than ‘stag do’, but – praise be – Benidorm sunstroke, strippers and ‘hilarious’ fancy dress are officially old hat. Today, the smart money is on the best man turning the tables on those expectations, delivering a do which no one needs to lie to their spouses about. So swap throwing up outside an Amsterdam ‘café’ for one of our more memorable alternatives – not least because there won’t be a €1 shot of absinthe in sight. Enjoy. (And in case you do fancy dipping into deplorable, most of our choices are within a stone’s throw of civilisation and all the sordid stuff that comes with it.)
1. Sharking On The Open Sea
Seaside towns may conjure horrific mirages of ‘traditional’ stags, but you can surprise your guests with some unexpected, grassroots male bonding. Stagweb will arrange half-day or full-day deep-sea fishing trips in Cornwall. Pack the boat with food and beer (within limits, it is the open ocean) and head out into the wild blue yonder in search of bream. Half-day trips are four-hour excursions in reef or wreck, fishing for smaller game, while a full day will allow you to chase bigger catch; common blue sharks populate the Cornish waters. Best bring your best seafaring legs – and know the swig that’s one too many.
2. A Malt-In-Your-Mouth Speyside Stream
If your taste buds are a little more refined, indulge both your wanderlust and your liver with a trip to bonny Scotland. Speyside Whisky Tours will arrange a chauffeur to ferry you between distilleries for a couple of days. It’s a perfect way to see more of Scotland’s inland scenery while sampling the best the country has to offer. Speyside has some of the greatest distilleries in the world and is home to plenty of ‘entry-level’ mellow whiskies, turning even the most hesitant Scotch drinkers into converts.
3. A Year-Round Alpine Adventure
If your powder-senses are tingling but the stag inconveniently booked his wedding in the off-season, glacial skiing for a medium-sized group provides an affordable solution – and something different from the norm. Head to the alps for Grande Motte; it may not be the freshest of powders, but the low-altitude glacier provides year-round carving opportunities. Creating your own package with a group like Alpine Antics gives you plenty of options – day spas and rafting are on offer, but exploring the alpine valleys on foot is a scenic experience unmatched outside of a Lord of the Rings screening.
4. A Lager-Heavy German Excursion
If you’re dead set on beers with the #lads but aren’t hot on the idea of a Greek island beloved by Brits broad, there is an alternative. Time your party right and a jaunt in Germany could land you front-and-centre at the world’s biggest beer festival, Oktoberfest. Make your preparations now for Saturday, 17 September; after the parade through Munich, the mayor officially taps the first barrel of the best beer on the planet as the clock strikes noon. The atmosphere alone is worth the long weekend.
5. A Parisian Melting Pot
If your group’s a mixed bag, you need somewhere with everything. Culture? Check. A pedigree to please the foodies? Check. A thriving nightlife scene that’s yet to be discovered? Check. Paris it is, especially for smaller groups. Stick around the Seine with views of Pont Neuf and Notre Dame, take wine-tasting cruise along the river along the river and grab dinner in one of the bistros on the Iles Saint-Louis. Post-dinner, you won’t have to go far; a converted barge on the Seine, the Batofar is one of the best club venues in the city. Santé.