Photo: Courtesy of Oultin Hall
Now that the world's officially gone Middleton-mad, we're betting more than one group of girls will trek across the pond for a princess-themed—excuse us, duchess-themed—bachelorette bash. Stops in London (to retrace the royal-wedding route) and Bucklebury (to hobnob at Pippa and Kate's hometown pub) are no-brainers. But if you're looking for an off-the-beaten-path place to party, consider hopping a train to the newly hot city of Leeds. Turns out that the Middletons have deep family roots in this Yorkshire town. (For a millisecond, there were even rumors that Will and Kate might marry there.) Here, we map out a weekend's worth of pit stops fit for a queen-to-be:
Westminster Abbey isn't the only church that looms large in Kate's family history. In 1914, her great-grandparents Noel Middleton and Olive Lupton wed at Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel, a Gothic Revival-style structure that dominates Leeds's City Square. (Look for the chapel window dedicated to the Luptons, a prominent clan of wool merchants.) Next stop: Adel St. John the Baptist Church, built by the Normans in the 12th century. Kate's grandparents said "I do" at Adel in 1946—and until the Abbey was confirmed as Kate and Will's ceremony site, some Leedsians held out hope that the couple would wed here, too.
Downtown Leeds is a shopaholic's dream, but our fave place to burn up the plastic is Harvey Nichols, a gleaming department store with to-die-for designer duds (Alexander McQueen!) and a buzzy top-floor restaurant.
Learn how to mix a mean Mojito Britannia (ingredients include apple juice and gin) during a group cocktail-making lesson at the Mint Hotel's Skylounge. Or set up a champagne tasting at Epernay, an uberpopular nightspot that specializes in all things bubbly.
Get the royal treatment at Oulton Hall, an 18th-century estate with gracious gardens, a killer tea service, and a swoon-worthy spa (chocolate exfoliation treatments for everyone!). After an all-nighter, sleep off the celebration in your room, submerged in a cloud of down. Doubles from $173 (low season) and $316 (high season); De Vere.
—Yolanda Crous, BRIDES magazine