Three newcomers to the LGBT tourism scene (plus one undervalued stalwart) and the top hotels therein
When it comes to beachside cities that are amazingly welcoming to LGBTs, there are a handful that are sometimes overlooked.
Sun-drenched party capitals like Gran Canaria and Ibiza get most of the attention. But what of the smaller hotspots in Europe obscured by their bigger brother gay destinations?
Here we visit four such cities, while hitting some of the top local stopovers with holiday experts On the Beach…
Loved by two million tourists a year for its jagged natural beauty, the island nation of Cyprus legalized civil unions in December 2015. Which is impressive, given its close proximity to countries not traditionally known for being LGBTI-friendly, such as Lebanon, Turkey and Syria.
On the island’s south coast is Paphos, a city of 32,892 that’s been selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2017.
Nearby you’ll find the Coral Beach Hotel and Resort [above], a family-friendly retreat that has something for everyone.
Perhaps try out the Esthisis health and beauty spa, the arts and crafts workshop, the water sports and diving center, or the tennis facilities. The resort also boasts its own private harbor, plus 500 meters of naturally sandy beach.
With its complex history and stunning scenery, Malta’s three islands are some of the most precious in the Mediterranean Sea.
A more recent development is the nation’s transformation from land of highly conservative laws and values to one that’s immensely gay-friendly, especially since introducing civil unions in 2014.
In the tiny, charming town of St Juliens (population: 10,000), you’ll find InterContinental Malta, one of the most luxurious resorts in the country [above].
All the spacious rooms feature chic decor, while the resort also has its own private sandy beach. Best of all is the stunning, lagoon-esque outdoor pool pictured above. Heavenly.
3. H10 Casanova in Barcelona, Spain (4*)
Is Barcelona an underrated gay destination? Probably not. But this vibrant city of 1.6m often pales in comparison to the super gay Sitges, which is just 42km away. (And maybe also the mighty Madrid, Spain’s largest city and capital).
But with its buzzing gay scene, this beachside metropolis is a strong contender as Spain’s LGBT capital. From culture to clubs to fabulous weather most of the year, Barcelona has it all.
Located on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes in the heart of the city, you’ll find the cutting edge four star H10 Casanova [above]. It’s housed within an 18th century building, but all the interiors are modern and funky.
This stylish stopover boasts 124 rooms, a plunge pool, and a fitness centre. Be sure to check out the super cool Sky Bar Terrace for impressive views of the city.
If Barcelona sometimes gets overlooked in favor of Sitges, then the tiny Benidorm rarely gets a look in when it comes to gay travel. But just like the rest of Spain, same-sex marriage has been available here since 2005.
This humble town of 70,000 is often dismissed as the hotspot of choice for rowdy Brits abroad. But as we discovered last year, it actually has far more to offer.
With its close proximity to the gorgeous Playa de Levante beach, affordable and unfussy three star Hotel Centro Mar is the perfect introduction to Benidorm. We advise a room with a sea view balcony, because what better way is there to wake up?
One major selling point is the inviting rooftop pool, which boasts wonderful panoramic views of the town. Millennials, take note: there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel for the first four hours of each day.