Being a couple of two men, it’s very important for us to feel comfortable during our travels. The European destinations we chose have liberal laws when it comes to equality and each hotel treated us like any other couple who would like to spend a romantic and fun weekend from home. So be proud and feel free to hold your lover’s hand in public at these gay-friendly holiday destinations in Europe.
LGBT+ friendly destinations and hotels around Europe
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Feel all the colours of the rainbow during a holiday in the open-minded Netherlands
The Netherlands and especially Amsterdam have always been very progressive with LGBT+ rights. Since 2001, it is possible for same-sex couples to get married and the Canal Pride is internationally acclaimed as one of the best Gay Parades in the world.
One of our favourite places in Amsterdam is the KNSM area in the North where they used to build huge ships until the industry moved and the area became an artist wasteland. The old wharf transformed into a known hip neighbourhood many years ago, but it still has a unique atmosphere with great cultural festivities like the ‘Over het IJ Festival’.
While designing the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, the architect really kept an eye on the historic NDSM site since it was the first hotel built in the area. It almost looks like one of the old buildings got picked up from the ground and was lifted eight floors up into the sky, making it stretch with glass and steel in between. Inside the rooms the view over the harbour is spectacular. When there are no music festivals around (definitely check the NDSM calendar), it is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day in touristy Amsterdam.
Find your fetish on a holiday weekend trip in Gay Berlin
When you want to experience good old Gay Berlin during your holidays, you have to stay in Schöneberg, the old school gay neighbourhood full of fetish gear shops and leather bars. It might not be as hip as some of the other areas but it still plays a big role in the Berlin gay scene and it has a good (male-oriented) rainbow energy.
Although we’ve stayed at the Axel Hotel before, this was our first time staying in one of their junior suites. It felt like we stepped into a 90’s cruising area with dark corridors and big glass windows between the bath and bedroom which makes it almost impossible not to act like a voyeur while your lover is taking a shower. On the top floor, there is a clothing optional spa area with an outside jacuzzi overlooking the neighbourhood.
Treat yourself like a king or queen in LGBT-friendly Vienna
Vienna mixes classical culture and architecture with urban modern life in such an adventurous way that it created a vibe in the city that is unique and gay-friendly. In addition to the annual Life Ball, the city hosted the 2019 EuroPride which will be another huge celebration of the rainbow community in Austria’s capital city.
Life Ball is one of the most spectacular charity events that we have ever been to. All the big LGBT+ celebrities are invited and most of them actually stay at the Le Meridien, and so did we! We never would have dreamed of having drinks with RPDR star MILK or hunky former canoeing champ Matt Lister. Like Vienna, the Le Meridien Wien hotel has from the outside a classic grandeur but on the inside, there is this modern twist since the lobby, breakfast area and bar are completely restyled and up-to-date gorgeous.
Staying at the Le Meridien means that with just a few steps you are standing right in front of all the major sights like the Natural History Museum; but you are also located close to the Naschmarkt in Vienna’s gay neighbourhood.
Celebrate diversity with style during your gay holiday in Malta
The Mediterranean island of Malta catapulted itself in the last five years to a top position among the known gay holiday destinations. It is one of the few countries in the world that provides equality at a constitutional level. Although Roman Catholicism is woven into Malta’s culture, the government has shown its progressive rainbow feathers and is proving that you can be bold and supportive of LGBT+ rights as a religious country.
Luxury travellers who like modern design and a central location should definitely stay at Casa Ellul, an exclusive boutique hotel right in the centre of Valletta. We stayed at their suite 6 which is this contemporary two-floor apartment all built out of concrete. It felt like we had our own private architectural little treehouse right in the heart of this gorgeous fortified city.
Take the time to relax in gay-friendly Stockholm
Being one of the most socially liberal countries in Europe, Sweden (and especially Stockholm) has always been a great LGBT+ holiday destination. We felt very welcome and safe in this gay-friendly city which has some of the coolest gay bar locations like the floating summer bar Mälarpaviljongen or the old firemen ship Patricia.
Hotel Skeppsholmen is situated in a 300-year-old navy building on the Skeppsholmen island right in the heart of Stockholm. Surrounded by trees and water we loved staying in this little oasis which felt miles away from urban city life. The hotel’s modern Scandinavian design and eco-friendly menu really helped us to relax. But don’t worry, there is enough to do around the island since it also houses several musea and Stockholm’s oldest amusement park Gröna Lund is only a short ferry ride away.
Spend some nights with gay-icon Tom of Finland during your Helsinki Holiday.
The Finnish capital city Helsinki should be on everyone’s gay travel bucket list. This hidden gem in the most eastern Scandinavian country has a relaxed atmosphere with its close connection to the Baltic Sea, the surrounding forest and the modern architecture appearing all around the city. Especially during a holiday mid-summer, when the sun sets late around midnight, Helsinki shows off its beauty and hospitality as being a hip LGBT+ friendly urban city.
While staying at the Klaus K, we were invited to try out their Tom of Finland package. For everyone who isn’t aware, Tom of Finland (aka Touko Valio Laaksonen) is the Finnish artist behind the homoerotic fetish art that had a big influence on late twentieth-century gay culture.
Even today, there is a huge fan community around the world. Part of the package was sleeping with all the bulky men printed on our bed sheets and towels, and the guided walking tour ‘Tom of Finland Experience’ which showed us Helsinki’s former cruising areas, shops, and bars that resonate perfectly to the art of this Finish gay icon.
Explore great museums and food in Europe’s biggest harbour city, Rotterdam
We personally love Rotterdam for two reasons: its eclectic mix of architecture, since the city centre was destroyed during WWII, and the amount of culture that is hiding within this city of possibilities. Where Amsterdam is well known for all its tourists-goods, Rotterdam might be a little bit shy. But when you know where to go or who to ask, this harbour city opens up and shows you all its rainbow colours with modern skyscrapers, hipster shopping areas, international inspired cuisine and musea with unique collections of art.
Our hotel of choice is the five-star Mainport Hotel conveniently located near the river Maas in the heart of Rotterdam. Each floor is decorated and themed with colours and fabrics representing different countries from around the world. The Waterfront Spa Rooms offer a luxurious private whirlpool next to the big window with a stunning view over the Leuven Haven. But an even more spectacular view is the one you get at the rooftop gym, sauna, and pool where it is all about the iconic Erasmus Bridge.
Splash around with likeminded people during Austria’s gayest Summer festival!
The Austrian mountain town Velden, right by the Lake Wörthersee, might not be an internationally known gay holiday destination, but since it is one of the hosting towns of the annual Pink Lake Festival, the LGBTQ+ summer holiday in the Austrian Alps it should be high on your list. Have you ever been to a party wearing lederhosen? Or what about an all-gay cruise party with several boats in the middle of a lake?! This summer festival for lesbian, gay and queer travellers is a one of a kind celebration taking place every August.
The Rocket Rooms Velden, a newly opened, modern and hip accommodation centrally located in the heart of town was our home of choice. The Lake Wörth with its turquoise water is just a short walk away from the hotel making the Rocket Rooms a great place to stay. A special tip is the hotel restaurant and bar offering a variety of modern fusion and traditional Austrian dishes with a great selection of local beers. And although the region is known for being quite conservative, The Pink Lake Festival helps the area to open up, not only to the international guests coming to spend their summer holiday in the southern Alps but also to its local LGBT+ community.