You know, that place near Sitges: OutUK's Adrian Gillan visits the Catalan capital of camp and cool. But is Barcelona still one of the hottest, hippest gay places in Europe?

Though truly steeped in history and conflict and fiercely protective of its Catalan language and identity, much of Barcelona is in fact a modern, post Olympic Games style construct.

Nowhere is this truer than in the queer quarter - just behind the chaotic Old Town bordering the Med - in part of the ordered nineteenth century Eixample road grid system the locals call "Gaixample".

Here the gay bars quite literally cluster around the blocks. Huge, noisy and welcoming Punto is one of the few venues to open its doors as early as 6pm in a late Latin culture where you eat at 10pm, hit bars at midnight and rarely reach a club before 3am.

As ever, we poor English boys mostly need to take a "club kip" 5pm-9pm if we want to last the course. That gives you time to wake up, doll up and find that restaurant base camp.


A stunning view of Barcelona as seen through the towers of La Sagrada Familia the still unfinished church designed by Barcelona architect Gaudi.

EATING

I'm convinced that gay eateries are actually one of the best reasons to visit Barcelona. There are quite a few of them, all different, and mostly excelling in food, service and ambience. They all have set menus where you can pick up an interesting three course meal including bread, wine, coffee and service for not that much more than a tenner, setting you up nicely for the hours ahead.

Some of our favourites include El Bierzo A Tope, which has great local cuisine, some outdoor seating and friendly service. Mind The Gap is a nice and friendly restaurant and cocktail bar, and if you have just finished exploring the most famous parts of the city then head for El Oslo Goloso which is not far from La Sagrada Familia - there's an outdoor terrace here which is open all year. La Bodegueta has an inner garden to look out onto at the back and quite exceptional service all of which is pleasantly colourful and the start of a good night out.

WORKING OUT

After the food comes the action. Barcelona has his own House of Boys, called American Boys in the Ronda Universidad which features a good selection of latin boys, mostly from Brazil. Alternatively, you can always head for the darkrooms and there are many to choose from.

Berlin Dark in Passatge Prunera has a strict dress code. It's a bar club aimed at a hard and fetish clientele, with slings, bath, dungeon, BDSM, shower and anal shower with toys, condoms and lube for free. Check their website berlindark.com for details.

Maduros in the Consell de Cent, is a fairly new men's club, that's beginning to become popular, whilst Night has been around for some time. It's a bar for men only, with a cruising crowd and no dress code, but with a darkroom, cabins and glory holes. It's located in the heart of the Gaixample, the gay district of Barcelona. Boys Bar was the former Le Privilege Barcelona with a darkroom attracting a gay crowd and Open Mind was the first private men-only sex club to open in Spain.

It has a great setting and atmosphere for fulfilling your fantasies - the club spreads over two floors, where you will find slings, piss and fist zones, bondage area, glory holes, cabins, shoe polishing and barber chairs, crosses, a cage etc. You can recharge your batteries in the bar, situated on the ground floor. Lockers available for every guest in the entrance area that is accessible at anytime. There are free condoms, lube, paper towels and gloves available. A free drink is included in the entrance fee. Remember that this is a fetish club with strict home rules. You will have to stick to the dress code - accepted are sport, leather, rubber, military or camouflage clothing, uniforms, and skin look. Alternatively, you are allowed to enter the club naked or in your underwear. Jeans are not accepted (except skins with high boots), casual clothing, shorts, strings/thongs or boxers and indeed perfume of any type!

BAR HOPPING

If you don't really feel like hitting the town too hard and rather fancy sipping away the small hours with a lover or friend, then you might like to settle into one of the intimate style bars for the night. It's here where Barcelona again really comes into its own. In all you'll be able to preen and be seen, and yet still have a good old wag.
If you want to up the nocturnal tempo there's quite a choice. Aire Sala Diana is a cafe bar and club in one. It has music from the 70's, 80's and 90's and El Cangrejo Eixample has a special party on the first Thursday of the month with a 2for1 before midnight.

La Chapelle is a small popular gay bar and Museum is a music video bar, that on Fridays & Saturdays includes a good range of pop music with a VJ.


Gaudi's Parc Guell was orginally designed as a garden city area in the northern part of Barcelona.
If you are up for meeting some bears and some older chaps then you can be sure to at a bar called New Chaps. There's also Bacon Bear Bar which is exactly as it says, with a happy hour on Thursdays from 7pm until 10pm.

People Lounge is an elegant Gentlemen's lounge for those over 30 years of age, preferring yesterdays music. Plata Bar has dance music with multi-lingual staff and outdoor seating throughout the year. Sky Bar by Axel is a lounge-bar located on the Axel hotel rooftop. You can enjoy both the cocktails and the pool with spectacular views over the city.

CLUBBING

The truth is the gay club scene in Barcelona isn't a London or a New York. There's a definite dip in the style stakes as you hit the gay floors - but still fun to be had. Arena Sala Madre is the mainstay handbag and house club with a fairly young and not-too-up-itself crowd. Slightly older ones tend to fill the Arena Sala Classic for cheese, pop and retro next door. The "Arena" brand may technically extend to the Arena VIP Sala & Dandy with its doubtless fine house, garage and trance - but you'll find more straight than gay in here on any given night.

Metro has a rather interesting and underground feel to it with backroom and porn chamber, and gets hot and sweaty in its sprawling labyrinthine dance space.

STEAMED UP

Beyond the bars and clubs, there's much to get you steaming in Barcelona. Sauna Casanova is the most popular and youthful "men's health" complex, bang in the centre with a brilliant red neon sign behind frosted glass luring in off the streets punters of all ages. Sauna Condal is older in more senses than one and not so hot.
The famous La Rambla boulevard that cuts a swathe through the heart of the old town from the gay district right down to the sea is in truth a little too public for serious gay cruising. Boys in the know rise up the Mont Juïc overlooking the city, to its many gardens and Olympic area. The nearest beaches to the centre of Barcelona are 15 to 25 minutes walk and some of them you can reach by metro train.
Barcelona's beautiful scenery and beaches.
The midday sun can't hide the gays and stays all along the miles of Barceloneta, the unique and amazing inner-city beach. The beaches of Barcelona are a major attraction in the summer. Beach is called 'playa' in Spanish and 'platja' in Catalan. The swimming season is from generally from May to mid-September when the sea water temperature is most comfortable around 20C to 24C degrees.
Barcelona has nine Mediterranean beaches that border the city coastline for 4.5km. All have the EU blue flag of excellence awarded for water quality and services. There are plenty of things to do on the beach besides swim. Windsurfing and kite surfing are popular. You can also enjoy a refreshing drink from one of the many beach huts, or just lie down and soak up the hot Spanish sun with a good book.
Barcelona's beautiful scenery and beaches.

ESSENTIALS

Sestienda is the oldest sex prop shop in town and very friendly with it too although it now fights for queer attentions with a raft of younger boy boutiques. We can fully recommend the limitlessly friendly and beautifully laid out gay Hostel Medea in a lovely old corner building less than ten minutes walk from the city's gay heart. Barcelona is a rightly celebrated gay cosmopolitan haven on the edge of the Med, under two hours away via several low-cost carriers. Perhaps time your visit to coincide with the International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival every October; or the annual February Carnival at the famous Sitges resort nearby, just 20 minutes away down coast.

GETTING THERE

There's a good choice of cheap flight options to Barcelona. Easyjet fly from London, Bristol and Newcastle. We have a great selection of hotels in Barcelona at special online rates through our partners Bookings.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

American Boys (Ronda Universidad 23, 3°, 2B; T: +34 93 317 0047; Website)
Arena Sala Classic (C/Diputació 233; T: +34 93 487 8342)
Aire Sala Diana (C/. Diputació 233; T: +34 93 451 5812; Website)
Arena Sala Madre (C/Balmes 32; T: +34 93 487 8342)
Arena VIP Sala & Dandy (Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 593; T: +34 93 487 8342)
Atame (C/Consell de Cent 257; no phone)
Bacon Bear Bar (C/. Casanova 64)
Berlin Dark (Passatge Prunera 18; T: +34 63 577 3955; Website)
Boys Bar (C/. Diputació 174; T: +34 65 168 0643; Website)
El Bierzo A Tope (Carrer De La Diputació 159; T: +34 93 453 7045; Website)
El Cangrejo Eixample (C/. Villarroel 86; Website)
El Oslo Goloso (Avenida Diagonal 366; T: +34 93 207 0738; Website)
Hostel Medea (C/Mallorca 290; T: +34 93 459 2366)
La Bodegueta (C/Muntaner 64; T: +34 93 451 5104)
La Chapelle (C/. Muntaner 67; T: +34 93 453 3076)
Maduros (Consell de Cent 245; T: +34 93 453 7722; Website)
Metro (C/Sepúlveda 185; T: +34 93 323 5227)
Mind The Gap (Consell de Cent 273)
Museum (C/. Sepulveda 178; Website)
New Chaps (Avinguda Diagonal 365; T: +34 93 215 5365)
Night (C/. Diputació 161; T: +34 93 503 1701; Website)
Open Mind (C/. Aragon 130; T: +34 93 451 0479; Website)
People Lounge (C/. Villarroel 71; T: +34 935 32 7743; Website)
Plata Bar (C/. Consell de Cent 233; T: +34 93 452 4636; Website)
Punto Barcelona (C/. Muntaner 63; T: +34 93 453 6123; Website)
Sauna Casanova (C/Casanova 57; T: +34 93 323 7860)
Sauna Condal (C/Espolsa Sacs 1; T: +34 93 301 9680)
Sestienda (C/Rauric 11; T: +34 93 318 8676)
Sky Bar by Axel (C/. Aribau 33; T: +34 93 323 9393; Website)

Photography Out Europe & Rob Hilken courtesy Spain Photos.

Revised April 2017.

 

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