Brussels is most definitely in the news at the moment for all the wrong reasons and it is seen by many who voted to leave the EU as the centre of many ills.
But Brussels makes a perfect winter away-gay break, writes OutUK's Adrian Gillan.
Cute young Eurobods and boys well and truly pout and sprout in bijou Brussels'
cafes and bars around the Old Town and Grand Place. Paris minus the bustle, this
intimate city has all that continental charm, on a far more human scale. Eurostar
from London or low-cost flights from around the UK make it a city that is easy to get to.
The famous Christmas market makes Brussels a perfect winter weekend getaway with
a great gay nightlife for post-shopping clubbing therapy.
BARS & CAFES
Traditional pub Le Belgica is the old boy in town but still one of the most popular
to get the night a buzzing. You might sample Tels Quels, a queer cultural centre by day that
magically transforms into an ambient and not overly raucous café-bar by night.
Castro Brussels is a cool bar you'll find when roaming the Saint Jacques neighborhood cafe and bar-hopping and what a great find it is.
A small intimate bar, the interior fantastic and an L-shaped space dominated by the main bar with great decor and furniture
and many seating areas both inside and out overlooking the busy streets.
There are a whole load of other little snug gems to taste the true soul of gay Brussels
too - the informal but rather good Au Soleil, or friendly Le Roi des Belges, let alone
the rather cheekily named L'Homo Erectus which is a fun gay bar with friendly staff and good beer prices.
There's also a nice clutch of more continental cabaret-focused venues like Chez Maman
for a camp concoction of nightly 'spectacles' or DIY karaoke.
And just down the road is a gem of a find - it's a few steps away from the Grand Place and you will find it on the corner.
Le Detour is small but usually lively gay bar with a diverse and young clientele and well worth the detour.
Yet more variety on the scene, this time for those all leathered or booted up with
nowhere to go! Manly men head for the men-only likes of the truly hard-core
La Réserve. The new team of Le Baroque welcome you in the heart of Brussels,
not far away from the famous Grand Place, where you can enjoy the "Bear Spirit" in a friendly and open atmosphere.
They claim that is more than a physical aspect claimed by the bear community, it is more an attitude and a state of mind.
After all these years, Sunset Club is still the main club staple in town. Although no
bigger than a medium-sized London bar, it does fill itself with shirtless young Flemish boys posing
and pouting! After being called The Why Not, the Box and the Nation, there is no more dark room, just a
place to dance. Nowadays the clientele is not exclusively gay, and so the club is a little more calm than before.
Stammbar is a hot place for gay cruising and we'd definitely recommend going on their Naked Sunday
party nights, when it's very busy with great deal of variety. Other nights have a good crowd and some well know DJs, as well as staff who
are friendly and cute. Stammbar has an industrial style with dark room and cruising areas.
But it is well worth planning your entire Brussels weekend around La Démence - the
country's biggest gay club night that has celebrated 30 years of existence and materialises ad lib. Check their website,
details below, for information about their events that are roughly once a month. The special night attracts Belgium's finest from the surrounding
lowlands, not to mention beauty boys from countries all across Europe.
One of the habitués at La Démence.
Good DJs fill the large main space whilst horned-up Euroboys troll the
maze of upper rooms kept strangely dark above. The club's popularity spills over
into all the other gay venues in town that weekend and the capital's gay population
swells manifold. So go boys go!
LETTING OFF STEAM
If you still fancy letting off steam day or night, Macho Sauna is the most central
and established, which a good reputation. But why pay when
you can have your fun really fresh, outside in the Parc de Bruxelles - especially
along the central promenade and around the ponds facing the Palace?
Dolores is one of the best gay-run and patronised eateries in town with a simple,
wholesome menu and walls lined with silver screen divas staring down as you eat
amidst flickering candles.
Brussels just before Christmas is the best of all. Enjoy the fresh nip in the air
as you buy your fine beer, coffee, cheese and chocolate gifts in the many tinselled
boutiques. Bernard Gavilan is a wildly creative gay-run second-hand fashion and
gizmo store in the heart of the queer quarter full of unique bargain booty treasures
you won't break the bank for.
BED & BREAKFAST
Les Ecrins is a comfortable and well-positioned little gay hotel that will cater
to your every need - though it does get full quick - or try the gay-friendly no-frills
Hotel Mirabeau right next to all the bars and with a hearty breakfast buffet that
will set you up for all your gay daytime ramblings.
OutUK in association with Booking also
offer a host of excellent Brussels hotels at unbeatable discount rates. Click
here for more details.
Adrian travelled with Eurostar
who'll take you effortlessly from London Waterloo to the heart of Brussels in
well under three hours. For information and booking, phone 08705 186 186 or visit
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Au Soleil (rue Marché au Charbon 86; 0032 2 513 34 30)
Bernard Gavilan (rue des Pierres 27; T: 0032 2 502 01 28)
Castro Bruxelles (rue du Marché au Charbon 94)
Chez Maman (rue des Grandes Carmes 7; no phone)
Dolores (rue du Marché au Charbon 40; T: 0032 477 65 12 15)
Hotel Mirabeau (place Fontainas 18-20, 1000 Bruxelles, Tel: 0032 2 511 1972; Website)
Le Baroque (Rue MarchÃ© au Charbon 44, Kolenmarktstraat)
Le Belgica (rue du Marché au Charbon 32; no phone)
Le Detour (rue des Pierres 57; T: 0032 477 92 35 96)
La Démence (rue Blaes 208; T: 0032 2 511 97 89; Website)
Les Ecrins (rue due Rouleau 15, 1000 Bruxelles, Tel: 0032 2 219 3657; Website)
L'Homo Erectus (rue du Marché au Charbon 5; T:0032 2 502 58 12)
La Réserve (petite rue au Beurre 2A; 0032 2 511 66 06)
Le Roi des Belges (rue Jules Van Praet 35-37; 0032 2 513 00 24)
Macho Sauna (rue du Marché au Charbon 106; T: 0032 2 513 56 67)
Sunset Club (rue des Riche-Claires 7; T: 0032 2 512 63 43)
Stammbar (rue du Marché au Charbon 114; T: 0032 471 80 14 39; Website)
Tels Quels (rue du Marché au Charbon 81; T: 0032 2 512 45 87)
Revised November 2019.