Category Archives: Travel

City Spotlight: New York

The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. The Empire City. The City of Skyscrapers; just some of the nicknames given to New York, one of the most well-known global holiday hotspots and is also very popular with LGBT travellers, constantly topping or being in lists of best gay travel destinations. And it’s not hard to see why.

New York offers something for everyone to do 24/7, 365 days a year – it’s rich with culture (art galleries and museums galore) and history (including LGBT history in the form of the famous Stonewall Inn, where the Stonewall Riots of 1969 began), has a vibrant nightlife, great shopping being one of the main fashion capitals of the world and some amazing sights to see, including the fountain where the Twin Towers used to stand, the Empire State building, Times Square, Central Park, the One World Trade Centre and of course, the Statue of Liberty to name just a few. It may be a buzzing metropolitan city, but New York’s parks and rivers also offer some quieter solace from the hubbub of the streets and breathing space from the countless high skyscrapers.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

New York’s gay scene is thriving and is spread all across the its five boroughs – Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island, although its main areas are situated in Chelsea (lower Manhattan), East Side and East Village, Hell’s Kitchen in Queens and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, where are there a whole host of different kinds of bars, clubs, restaurants and other gay-run establishments that cater to or are aimed at different members of the diverse LGBT community.

via Twitter

via Twitter

New York City Pride is one of the world’s largest, attracting an estimated more than 1 million people. The Parade is a spectacular sight to behold as it snakes across the city southward down the famous Fifth Avenue and fittingly ends at Greenwich Village and Christopher Street, right by the Stonewall Inn – where the LGBT rights movement first began. Pride week usually takes places towards the end of June (17-25th this year). Confirmed acts that will be performing include Tegan and Sara, Years & Years, Roisin Murphy, Deborah Cox, Patti Labelle, LeAnn Rimes and Nelly Furtado. Other events that will take place include a Youth Pride, Family Movie Night, OutCinema, The Rally and the Village Voice Pride Awards.

via Facebook

via Facebook

Gay Homestays has more than 30 places to book in New York, from spare rooms in flats and houses or whole properties and B&Bs and guesthouses, with some being gay-owned or gay-friendly. While New York is certainly not short of hotels, including gay-run ones, the opportunity to stay with a local and see and experience the city firsthand through them should not be passed up.

Losing your “V” to London

It’s April, spring is finally upon us and it’s time to lose your V to London.

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London has been redefining culture before your grandparents were born a.k.a Shakespeare. A city where the abnormal can seem normal, and can be amazing opportunity to discover oneself or just have some fun!

 

Then again it is very easy to get lost and possibly spend your whole day underground on public transport. If that’s your thing, please stop here and remember to mind the gap. Don’t get lost google use TFL.

 

However if you’re in wonder of what else London has to offer please stay on for  at least the next ten stops.

1. If you’re tourist wanting to actually see London and possibly an expert at getting lost. 🙈 Take a double decker bus, who knows what amazing sites you will see.

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2. If you’re British or know of London very well. You would know how much the Brits love complaining particularly about the cost of London. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. London has many museums, north, south, east and west of you that are FREE.

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3. That also include art galleries

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4. Grab tea, a cup of coffee explore the street of Covent Garden explore, watch, take part in an array of street performances.

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5. You’re in England. Can’t come here without having a good drink or two….?! Soho is considered the largest gay village in London, where you certainly won’t be the only gay.

 

6. Make your evening an extra special London Westend is situated not far from Soho and discover your favorite musical.

 

7. Time for that caffeine fix/ sugar fix?! Well, it’s time to catch up on last night gossip and talk about how amazing that Westend musical was you saw. P.s you certainly can’t come all way to England or London even without having proper afternoon tea.

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8. SouthBank, Camden there is always something fun, something different happening around there.

 

9. China town, one of the most vibrant china towns in England. That looks amazing in the evening. Not to mention the food.

 

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10. Okay, so you’ve been here all weekend, all week. Time to see all it’s glory from a new perspective and remember that time you lost your v for London.

 

Just remember if you’re traveling particularly in a big group to plan ahead to avoid any disappointment. So you can spend more time enjoying yourselves.

 

“There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” – Vivienne Westwood

City Spotlight: Vancouver

Canada has long been established as a gay-friendly country, with the most advanced LGBT rights in the Americas and probably across all English-speaking countries as well. And Vancouver, the country’s third largest city after Toronto and Montreal, is seen by many as one of the top destinations to visit.

A coastal seaport city in Canada’s westernmost province of British Colombia, Vancouver is one of the country’s most diverse cities, both geographically and demographically – it is a modern, metropolitan city with the vast Pacific Ocean on one side and the other is snow-capped mountains, over half its 2.5 million residents do not speak English as a first language and more than a third of the population are of Asian (particularly Chinese) heritage. Much of Canada is known for its cold climate, but Vancouver enjoys its status as one of the country’s warmest – with lows of 15 degrees Celsius in the winter and highs of around 30 during the summer months, making it an ideal all-year round holiday destination.

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Vancouver’s LGBT community is one of Canada’s most largest, prolific and diverse and has been a hotspot for gay travellers around the world, particularly the US, since it legalised gay marriage in 2003. Its community is centred mainly around two areas – Davie Village in the West End and Commercial Drive, also known locally as “The Drive”. Davie Village is seen as the most prominent area with many gay-owned and gay-friendly bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes and shops in and around it with beautiful beaches and the huge Stanley Park not far off, while Commercial Drive is similar but situated on the east side of the city but perhaps not as well as known a “gaybourhood”. For a full listing of gay and gay-oriented places in Vancouver, visit here.

Vancouver gay Pride is not just one week of celebrations but a number of events take place in the run-up to the main festivities at the end of the July and beginning of July, including sports games between local teams, a Pride event for the east side of the city, a fun run and walk and a “city proclamation” (whereby a huge rainbow flag is raised in the city centre). The main Pride week will be from 29th July to 4th August, with the huge Parade ending it all on the last day. As well as Pride, there is also a Queer Arts Festival from 24th July to 9th August and a Queer Film Festival from 15th-25th August.

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For non-LGBT places to go to, Vancouver also has plenty. With a multicultural society, the city is home to distinct ethnic commercial areas such as Chinatown, Greektown, Japantown, Punjabi Market and Little Italy. Other festivals that take place include the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in January, as well as the Vancouver Fringe Festival and the Vancouver International Film Festival, both in September. There are also numerous galleries, museums, theatres and other interesting architectural structures and buildings, beaches and parks worth visiting. And if you want a short break away from the bustling and relatively hot metropolis, the city and province’s neighbouring areas are great for a taste of snowy and wintry Canada.

Gay Homestays has a few properties available in Vancouver, including one that has a private outdoor swimming pool! We also have a number of accommodations in other parts of Canada, such as Calgary, Lund, Maitland, Montreal, Quebec, Saint John and Toronto, so check them out too if you’re travelling to this great country any time soon!

City Spotlight: Sydney

While Sydney is commonly mistaken to be the capital of Australia (and we all know, it is of course Canberra) as it is the most populous and most well-known, many people do believe it is the country’s gay capital. Situated on the southeast coast – making it a very urban seaside city (like many in Australia such as Brisbane), Sydney is the capital of the state of New South Wales, was the site of Australia’s first British colony and is now the country’s most cosmopolitan and multicultural city. So why is Sydney – a very gay-friendly city – a must-visit destination for gay and lesbian travellers? Here we will tell you what LGBT tourists to Sydney can expect from and experience in this lovely city.

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Sydney is consistently ranked by top experts and websites as one of the best cities in the world to live in and one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and has a very rich culture that centres around music, performing arts and sports. Some of the city’s top attractions include the famous Sydney Opera House, the Olympic Park, numerous arts galleries, museums, arts festivals (some of the biggest in Australia), Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Tower, public sculptures and of course some of the many beaches surrounding the city and nearby areas.

Although the government have yet to acknowledge same-sex marriage, research has shown that the majority of the Australian population do support and want it. Other LGBT rights are mostly in line with other first-world countries, such as anti-discrimination legislation, the right to change one’s legal gender and in some states the right to adopt and foster children. Gay life in Sydney however, does flourish and is predominantly centred around the Darlinghurst (mainly Oxford Street) and Surry Hills districts, alongside others, where a large number of gay-owned and gay-friendly business reside, include bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, saunas and accommodation. Bondi, Obelisk and Lady Jane beaches are some of the most frequented beaches by gays and are very busy during the summer months, both day and night. The many bars and clubs vary far and wide, with ones to suit everyone’s style and preferences – there are men-only places, lesbian bars, trans bars, cabaret and drag queen bars, high-end and cheaper places for those with different budgets, large and loud clubs for the young and hip and those who prefer an older, mature crowd and a quieter place to chill.

Sydney’s LGBT pride parade, commonly known as Mardi Gras, is similar in extravagance to those in Brazil. It is the largest of this event in Australia and in the southern hemisphere outside of South America, attracting over 300,000 people who watch the Parade and around 70,000 who attend Fair Day, the opening day of the event which lasts a few weeks in February and March. The event grew from gay rights marches held annually since 1978 and  it is now New South Wales’ second-largest annual event in terms of economic impact, generating an annual income of about A$30 million for the state, proving the power of the “Pink Dollar” and gay travel. The Mardi Gras Film Festival also takes place during this time. QueerScreen is another film festival held in Newtown district in September and Sydney Pride – not to be confused with Mardi Gras is another large and popular LGBT event held every June for about two weeks.

Sydney is one of Gay Homestays‘ top destinations and our most popular in Australia with over 30 accommodations available – from gay guest rooms in apartments and houses, whole properties and gay or gay-friendly rooms in guesthouses – in the city and its surrounding area, though many are situated in or around Sydney’s gay area. Obviously the most popular time to visit Sydney or any other area of Australia is during the summer (December to February) and when Mardi Gras is on, though Sydney’s climate is still pretty stable and mild (average of 15-20 degrees Celsius) throughout the rest of the year.

City Spotlight: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is widely known as one of Europe’s – and the world’s – most tolerant countries, particularly when it comes to sexuality, sex and of course most controversially, drugs. However, while that may create the idea that it is a dirty, seedy place in some people’s minds, in reality it isn’t – it’s vibrant, diverse and actually a clean and friendly city. So why travel to Amsterdam? What attracts hundreds of thousands of LGBT travellers to the city every year? Here we’ll tell you why.

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In 2009, Amsterdam became one of the first ever cities to open a separate tourist office for LGBT travellers called “Pink Point” cementing itself as an open and gay-friendly travel destination. It is situated next to the Homomonuent (a rather fitting name and place) – a memorial that opened in 1987 to commemorate the gay men and lesbians as well as bisexuals who have been persecuted because of their sexuality – and is staffed by friendly and knowledgable volunteers with a wide range of information and flyers from local organisations, and has one of the best selections of queer souvenirs and gifts in the country.

The Netherlands as a whole has a big reputation as one of the world’s most progressive countries in regards to LGBT rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1811 and it was of course the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001. Amsterdam, like most capital cities however, is where the highest number of LGBT people are living and why wouldn’t they with around 100 bars, clubs, shops, saunas, hotels and restaurants that are gay-owned or gay-friendly? There isn’t really one specific gay area in Amsterdam, but rather everywhere is very integrated and it is all dotted around the city, including Rembrandtplein square, Requliersdwarsstraat, along Amstel, Warmoesstraat and near the infamous red-light district.

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As well as the Homomonuent, other notable places to visit for sightseeing in Amsterdam include the world famous Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the 17th Century network and canals that meander through the city, the Defence Line of Amsterdam (both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and dare we say, for those who aren’t into traditional culture and history – the city’s many cannabis “coffee shops”, which attract nearly 4 million international visitors alone every year. There are also six other museums in the country’s top 15 that are located in Amsterdam.

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Some of the city’s most notable LGBT events in the year include a gay and lesbian film festival Roze Filmdagen takes place every March, a TranScreen festival in May and the Gay & Lesbian Summer Festival, which also shows films, is in July.  Amsterdam Gay Pride starts on the last week of July (26th) and carries on till the first weekend of August (3rd), which is undeniably the city’s biggest gay event on the calendar, though for those who are into something a little different there is also the Fetish Pride from 29th May to 1st June and Leather Pride takes place from 23rd-26th October. There is also the Milkshake Festival – a very popular event that isn’t about milkshakes, but rather dance and club music, turning the city into one huge dancehall. It is attended by everyone and anyone and not restricted to or aimed at one particular group of people, so the LGBT and straight communities can come together and celebrate their love of music.

We currently have over 70 properties in Amsterdam ranging from spare guest rooms in people’s apartments or houses, whole properties and rooms in guesthouses and B&Bs – and the vast majority of our hosts are gay or lesbian or LGBT-friendly and situated within or around the city centre. Or if you have a spare room or a property you want to let out to visitors in Amsterdam, you can sign up and become a host here.