Category Archives: Travel

What our guests have to say about their hosts and Gay Homestays

Gay Homestays has built itself a great reputation within the global LGBT community, especially in the gay travel accommodation market. Below are select few testimonials from satisfied guests who have stayed with some of our top hosts around the world and had positive experiences using Gay Homestays as a source for gay accommodation so you can see for yourself:

CARL1/1 in Rome

“I’ve used the Gay Homestays services a few times during the last months, and I should say that it’s been great. I’ve felt like home in every place I’ve been, including this one. And will never hesitate in using it again. Carlos”

CRUG1/1 in London

“Gil is an exceptionally kind, considerate and thoughtful host who is never short of a friendly smile and positive conversation. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of storage for my clothing. This was my first experience of using Gay Homestays and meeting Gil has ensured that it won’t be my last! James”

THOF1/1 in Barcelona

“I had the pleasure of staying at this apartment in Barcelona with my partner who was celebrating his 40th Birthday.  The host was very welcoming and was extremely organised. The location is ideal for being in the middle of the gay areas. This was our first stay in somebody’s home through Gay Homestays and I must say we were pleasantly surprised.  I would very happily stay here again and would happily recommend Francois and his home to anyone planning a short stay in Barcelona. Well worth a visit. Thank you 🙂 Shane”

PAPN1/1 in New York

“Our stay with Nicolas was most memorable. He is an absolutely gracious host who spared no effort in making sure that we were comfortable. The apartment is superb and we felt very special to share it with Nicolas. Thank you also to Gay Homestays for taking care of our booking so efficiently. Merlin”

OZBM1/5 in Istanbul

“It was my first time using Gay Homestays and I was hesitant but it turned to be a great place, great hospitality and the best thing, a very friendly host. I am definitely recommending this lovely place 🙂 Chai”

COPC1/2 in Devon

This was the first time we’d used Gay Homestays to book a short break, so didn’t know what to expect. We needn’t have worried – all was professionally organised and our host Christopher was very welcoming and helpful and we were made to feel as if this were part of our home too! Didn’t use the heated jacuzzi but were free to do so if we wished.

Lovelly garden in a location tucked away and so very peaceful with ample parking and yet only about 5-10 mins walk to or from the town centre and with a slightly longer walk to the train station, we went to Exeter by train very easy and cheaper than paying for the parking there!

Great location is you want to explore East Devon, Dorset, Somerset or a quick trip down to the coast. Would definately stay here again.  Simon & Ian”

PHIB1/1 in Paris

“My partner and I just got back from a trip to Paris. It was the second time we used the services of Gay Homestays. We stayed with Philippe in Paris, for three days. It was a great experience and a more wonderful person and host is difficult to find. We will definitely continue to use Gay Homestays for our trips. Peter”

RODJ1/2 in Valencia

“This was my first time using Gay Homestays and I was very impressed from the start. My accommodation in Valencia was fantastic- very central, clean and tidy, and with a friendly host who gave me info on local gay bars (all nearby), beaches, etc. He was professional in manner and left me to my own accord.

The room has a lovely balcony overlooking the street with a nice bar on the corner nearby where I ate in the evenings. It was so hot during my stay in Valencia the good quality fan secured to the wall helped circulate the air without making a constant noise. There is a TV in the room for those who want it with many TV and radio channels. I would definitely recommend this accommodation. Daniel”

HILB1/1 in Manchester

“Staying with Brian was a wonderful experience. He is a gr8 guy. His apartment was in a building similar to one you would find in Tribeca in NYC. The place was beautiful and very convenient. I would definitely stay with him again if I should return to Manchester. This was my first experience with Gay Homestays and I will certainly use this again to find a place to stay. Jack”

ROMC1/2 in Gran Canaria

“My partner and I stayed with Marcial and Roman last week on our first trip to Gran Canaria. We liked the idea of staying with a local couple instead of a normal hotel and also liked the the look of the property from the website.

When we arrived, our hosts could not have more welcoming. Our room was perfect. The bathroom was also great. The rest of the house and garden were even better than the photos showed and Roman and Marcial encouraged us to make ourselves at home which we did straight away. They made us feel so at home that we felt like we staying with friends for the week.

As we hadn’t been to the island before, they gave us good advice about what to see and do as we wanted to see some of the island as well as the beaches and the Yumbo Centre!

Breakfast was laid out for every morning which including fresh homemade bread and a variety of pastries each day as well as fruit, cereal, yoghurt etc.
The dogs Moro and Tamo were also very welcoming and very cute. We would highly recommend this homestay and hope to return ourselves in the future.
Stuart & Andy”

City Spotlight: Rome

Rome is the epitome of a European capital city that has a rich history and culture, and is proud to keep it that way at its forefront. Its gay scene is not as prominent as other cities such as Paris, Berlin and Madrid – and you can probably “thank” the fact that the Pope resides there for that – but in the past decade or so has begun to catch up and cater towards its LGBT community and tourists that travel there. The city does, however, have a lot to offer travellers who want to sightsee and learn more about Rome and Italy’s long and interesting history and many consider it one the world’s best places to escape to for a romantic holiday.

Arcigay has been the largest national LGBT organisation since 1985 and have been fighting for more LGBT rights for many years, including civil unions, gay marriage, gays and lesbians being able to adopt and more recognition for transgender people. Many gay venues throughout Italy require people, both natives and foreigners, to purchase Arcigay membership (usually about €10), in addition to the admission cost, even those who are just visiting the country for a short time.

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Unlike more modern and cosmopolitan cities such as Manchester and Barcelona, Rome’s gay venues are not confined in one specific area and are found all cross the city, but neither are they as obvious, with many of them being hidden behind busy areas down small streets or above other buildings and businesses. This is perhaps because of the city’s strong religious influence that gay places feel less accepted or are made to cover up. This should not stop tourists though, as there are an increasing number of gay-owned bars and clubs, shops, restaurants, cafes and other venues that should be checked out and are becoming more and more popular with the LGBT community, particularly around Viale San Giovanni, which attracts most of them (although again, is not the city’s main gay area). There’s even a gay beach located about 40km away from the city. For a full, detailed list of places, click here.

Besides trying out Rome’s gay scene, the city’s obvious attractions are of course its beautiful and intriguing architecture – which ranges from ancient to medieval, from renaissance to baroque, from neoclassicism to to fascist; historical and religious sites; and famous statues. The Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza del Popolo, the Pantheon, the Column of Marcus Aurelius and the gardens of Villa Borghese are just some of the most popular places worth visiting. Art galleries, history museums and, more recently, fashion exhibitions are also abundant. However, if you really are more of a modern fashionista, then style capital Milan – approximately 600km to the north of Rome – is the place to go if you have time, and although it seems far, a stop off at Florence along the way is recommended. For a shorter but just as worthwhile a journey, Naples is situated around 220km south of Rome.

At Gay Homestays we have an extensive range of more than 100 accommodations available in Rome, whether they be spare rooms in people’s apartments or houses, guesthouses or B&Bs or whole properties, with a good mix of both LGBT and LGBT-friendly hosts who welcome anybody to stay with them to enjoy and explore this great and interesting city. So why not check them out and book one for when you next travel to Rome?

The best times to visit Rome are during the cooler but warm months of Spring and Autumn but if you want to go for Pride and see the LGBT community take over the usually conservative city, then it takes place on 15th June. From then on and until September there is also “Gay Village“, a summer-long festival chock-a-block with events and parties all over Rome and in its gay venues.

Gay marriage: 7 countries you can travel to to get married

With the gay marriage bill in the UK currently in the process of hopefully being passed by the House of Lords soon and after the recent news of New Zealand and France legalising gay marriage, equality for LGBT people around the world is slowly but surely becoming a reality in some countries. At present, there are 14 countries that recognise same-sex marriages and allows same-sex couples to marry, while in other countries it is legal in some states and areas (such as the US and Brazil) or same-sex marriages from other countries are recognised but not performed (for example, Israel).

So if you want to go abroad and get married, which of the 14 countries are the best place, not only to get married in but also travel to? Here are our top 7 picks and why:

7) The Netherlands

The Netherlands who was the first country to extend full marriage laws to include same-sex couples. The Netherlands is a very liberal country in general and Amsterdam, its capital, is known to be one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world.

6) South Africa

While many countries in Africa are very much against homosexuality, South Africa became the first in the continent, the second outside of Europe and fifth overall to legalise same-sex marriage, which will hopefully set a good example to the rest of Africa. South Africa has a lot to offer tourists, especially those who love outdoor adventures and wildlife.

5) New Zealand

The thirteenth country to legalise same-sex marriage, New Zealand seems to have always kept quiet when it comes to equal rights, especially when its neighbour, Australia, is still hotly debating over the topic. While Australia is of course a very popular travel destination, New Zealand is often forgotten about, but does in fact have a lot to offer travellers – and with it being close to Australia, you can easily visit both while you’re “down under”.

4) Argentina

Being a predominantly Catholic country, Argentina may seem like an unlikely place where gays are accepted but it is in fact becoming more liberal and isn’t as strict as it may seem, especially its capital, Buenos Aires, which is now known as one of the most popular gay travel destinations.

3) Canada

Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first in the Americas and outside of Europe to legalise gay marriage in 2005. With Canada being such a huge country, there are so many different areas to visit, that you could spend ages travelling around experiencing it, from the French-speaking area of Quebec in the east (where it may almost seem like a completely different country) to the southern provinces which are more modern and more concentrated, to the mountainous northern parts which are usually blanketed by snow.

2) Iceland

Iceland is one of the best gay-friendly countries in the world but is probably one of the least known by people. Icelandic geography, culture and history is extremely rich and interesting if you look into it and travel around the country to learn more and Reykjavik’s Pride event is very popular. The country’s Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, is an open lesbian who is legally married to her long-term partner. The couple became one of the first to become legally married (after being in a civil union in 2002) and surely became a pioneer for LGBT rights and politics in not only Iceland, but around the world.

1) Spain

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005, becoming the third country in the world to legalise it. Spain is undoubtedly not only one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, but also well-known as a hotspot for LGBT travellers, with its big cities having some of the most vibrant and famous gay scenes and hosting some of Europe’s and the world’s biggest Pride events, such Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, Madrid, Barcelona and Tenerife.

Choon’s trip to Portugal

While the UK experienced a white Christmas a whole month after Christmas itself and the coldest January it has had in years, team member Choon decided to escape the bad weather with a trip Portugal – namely the Algarve and Lisbon. Although January in Portugal is quiet in terms of tourism and the temperature is unlikely to exceed 15 degrees centigrade, the relaxing atmosphere and mild weather still makes a nice change from the bitter British winter and busy lives back home.

For the majority of the holiday, Choon stayed on a beach resort along Portugal’s south coast in Albufeira in the Algarve, not far from Faro, where the clear skies, sweet, clean sea air and light breezes meant it was nice to chill out without getting chilly. During the summer months, this area is bustling with people and is a very popular tourist hotspot, so although it was relatively quiet most of the time, having entire lengths of practically empty beaches to walk along or lie down on without distractions and disturbances can be lovely and makes for a refreshing and stress-free change. Tourist activities are abundant and varied, ranging from sea cruises, fishing expeditions, dolphin watching, paragliding, jeep safaris and horse riding, although some do not run or are limited during the off-peak season – but if they do, they’re usually cheaper.

If you’re wanting to experience the Portuguese gay scene, the Algarve is unfortunately not the place to be, as unlike neighbouring country Spain’s heavily gay populated coastal areas, gay bars are either extremely limited or defunct. Fortunately, Lisbon, on the west coast is not only Portugal’s capital city but the country’s gay capital too. Much of its gay area is centred towards the south of the city by its coastline, where there are some beaches, including ones frequented by the gay community – although perhaps not the best place to go when it’s not summer. Its most prominent gay areas are Principle Real, Bairro Alto and the liberal Largo de Camões (where Choon stayed at the apartment of one of our own hosts), all situated not far from each other; with numerous gay-owned bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants, clubs, shops and saunas dotted around – all of which are either open to and aimed at everyone or cater to a specific group of people, and their preferences, within the LGBT community. For a full list of places in Lisbon, click here. Porto, Faro and Lagos are other big Portuguese cities and are also known for their gay-friendly attitudes and gay nightlife.

Lisbon itself is a mixture of a very modernised European city like most others, and a more preserved historical place, particularly around the gay areas, where cobbled stones, narrow roads and alleys built on steep hills and diverse architecture, ranging from Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline and Baroque styles. Even the city’s old-fashioned electric trams make you feel like you’ve almost gone back in time too –  a stark contrast from its modern and extensive underground metro system.

Despite its heavy Catholic influence, Portugal’s LGBT rights are some of the best in Europe – homosexuality and same-sex acts were decriminalised in 1982, homophobic and transphobic crimes are illegal, gays have been allowed to serve in the military since 1999, and since 2010 same-sex marriage has been officially recognised. Single gay and lesbian people may adopt children, although this right does not extend to couples just yet, however what is most advanced about Portugal’s LGBT rights is the ratification of the Law of Gender Identity and the formal approval of sex/gender assignment for trans people since 2011.

So why not visit Portugal too? Gay Homestays has nearly 40 properties and rooms available throughout the country, including 25 in Lisbon and some along the south coast in the popular Algarve. If you have been to places such as Italy and Spain, Portugal – which has similarities and differences to both – is a great and interesting country to explore, whether it be its many historical, religious and cultural sites, its wide and green countrysides or its many beaches, and with its many gay establishments and gay-friendliness, what’s not there to encourage you?

Our top eleven travel songs

This week’s blog post is a compilation of some of the best travel songs that capture the spirit of travel that make great travelling “companions” for you to listen to whilst on the road, move, in the sea or air. They are are about travel in general, specific places to travel to, reasons why we travel, how we travel and songs that capture the joy of travelling. Some are happy, upbeat songs, others might be more sorrowful and emotional and some are ones you might not have heard before or seen on other lists of travel songs before. It was a long and hard decision to whittle a long list down to just ten, but the diverse outcome of different genres and artists (pop, rock, soul, funk, country, etc.) is perfect:

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11) Midnight Train To Georgia by Gladys Knight & The Pips

A relaxing and beautiful song about following your heart and your lover sung by soulful crooner Gladys Knight and her backing singers The Pips.

10) Holiday by Madonna

Perfect, fun and camp song to get you excited for a holiday and take a break that also really throws you back to the feel-good vibes of the 80s.

9) Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd

There’s no place like home for some and this classic country-folk song really emphasises that laid-back, carefree lifestyle one can live.

8) Proud Mary by Tina Turner

Travelling by water is one of the world’s oldest modes of transport and still popular, whether it be “rolling on the river”, sailing the seas or cruising across oceans. Either way, this track really gets you pumped and excited.

7) Freeway Of Love by Aretha Franklin

A lesser known but still great Aretha Franklin track, you can listen to this song and imagine you and your partner are zooming down motorways at top speed, enjoying a fun road trip together.

6) Route 66 by The Rolling Stones

Written about the famous Route 66 and the freedom of travelling by car and by road, this bluesy rock and roll classic (originally by Nat King Cole) has been covered by many artists and bands, with The Rolling Stones probably being the most prolific and their version being the most popular, while the likes of Chuck Berry and Depeche Mode have also recorded it.

5) A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton

Long-distance relationships are hard to maintain but this lovely piano-driven and orchestral song is all about pining after a loved one who you’ve been separated and how far you’re willing to travel just to be them and definitely a good listen if you’re taking the road, even if you’re not travelling to see someone.

4) Travelling Without Moving by Jamiroquai

The irony of this funky song is that you can’t listen to it without moving. It’s catchy and danceable and certainly makes a good upbeat change for a track to listen to when travelling.

3) Cruz by Christina Aguilera

If you’re feeling down and just want to get away from something and be by yourself or you’re moving away, this beautiful song can capture and fit that mood perfectly. It’s great to listen to as you’re travelling along trying to clear your head of all thoughts and lighten your mood.

2) Fly Away With Me by Aerosmith

Compared to our world-famous number one song, this rock ballad is a far lesser-known Aerosmith track. Written about wanting to escape from everything with a loved one, this is perfect to describe a romantic getaway. Or a forbidden love that means you have to elope…

1) Rockin’ All Over The World by Status Quo

A recognisable song that everybody should know, this fun rock and roll track is really something to get up and dance about. It is also very fitting for those who like to travel the world and have fun and be adventurous when they do so. Definitely a very fitting number one song!