Purpose – This paper aims to examine how activating an abstract versus concrete construal as a retrieval cue – prior to providing estimates but after exposure to the stimulus – affects retrospective duration estimates of a hedonic experience, the kind of experience one might wish to repeat. Recent research has examined the effect of construal mindsets on prospective time perceptions (Hans and Trope, 2013) as well as the prediction of future durations (Kanten, 2011; Siddiqui et al., 2014). Design/methodology/approach – Two experiments are presented to test four hypotheses. The effect of construal level on time perceptions, confidence in duration judgments and future preferences using two different construal level manipulation techniques and a range of measures for the dependent variables is demonstrated. Findings – This research found that compared to a neutral experience, time perceptions of an enjoyable event are not explained by differences in the level of attention paid to the stimuli; that duration estimates elicited under abstract construals are shorter than those produced by concrete construals; and regardless of construal mindset, memory decay due to time delay appears to be at work. Hence duration estimates shorten. Moreover, abstract construals decrease confidence in duration judgments, but positively affect future preferences compared to a concrete mindset. Originality/value – This paper expands current knowledge by showing that construal mindsets can be used as retrieval cues to affect evaluations of past experiences and consumers’ experience-based future preferences.