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Chocolate and cheese, mountain and lake, money and men: Adrian Gillan is far from neutral about the sizzling Swiss scenes in federal capital Bern and lush lakeside Lucerne.

A steep-banked UNESCO world heritage site set in a tight loop of the River Aare, complete with name-sake bear pit; a world-class Paul Klee Centre featuring 4000 works by the great Swiss artist; and Einstein's House, where the genius scientist developed his Theory of Relativity and helped discover Toblerone (no joke): that's Bern - the small, unassuming, almost nonchalant, capital of Switzerland.

Bern, Switzerland's capital, sits astride the Aare River. Courtesy: ST/swiss-image.ch

FOOD & DRINK

Check out the classy, ambient downstairs bar, and fine Swiss-Italian cuisine upstairs, at gay-friendly Lorenzini on central Hotelgasse. "Spring in the mouth" is the name of "Saltimbocca", the name of this Roman specialty, literally translated. This has been a part of Ristorante Lorenzini for over 40 years and is the most famous schnitzel with ham and sage in Bern. And for the more flush amongst us, they also offer a 4-course menu in the restaurant and a chance to try your luck at the Grand Casino Bern until the early hours.
There's always is the trendy Cinématte in Wasserwerkgasse down by the river with its stylish bar and lounge, cinema screening arty Euro films and light and airy eatery.

Tummy primed, sink some drink! Drop down into the lively Comeback bar on parallel Rathausgasse plays much the same trick.

For something grander, mixed Kornhauskeller on nearby Kornhausplatz offers a huge, vaulted cellar with giant barrel at one end and many tables from which to preen and be seen.

Check out the restaurants on the Kornhausplatz
Photo:Stephan Engler. Courtesy:ST/swiss-image.ch

GAY SOCIETY AND ADVICE

Especially for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, the protection of minorities under Swiss Law is guaranteed as a human right and is of central importance. The Berne LGBT + association is called HAB - Homosexuelle Arbeitsgruppen Bern and it has resisted oppression and discrimination since its founding in 1972. They have recently started branding themselves "queer bern" as the association wants to signal to everyone that people whose sex does not adhere to the biological assignment at birth are now becoming more visible. They have a centre at Seftigenstrasse 11 in Bern, and offer a place to meet, obtain advice and support and socialise with other LGBT people.

CLUBBING

When toes start to twitch, there's a few options to enjoy but most are on a irregular basis but very much worth the wait. Tolerdance, where drinks are cheap, dishes out trance and pop every fourth Saturday and the well loved gay nights held at Gaskessel in the Sandrainstrasse over 2 dance floors and several bars and lounges.

If dancing's not your thing, try books and boy toys at gay sex shop Girl and Boyshop on Gerechtigkeitsgasse; or enjoy the short tram ride to Aqualis sauna on Brunnmattstrasse - especially on a "Swiss Fist" night... don't ask! They have 600sqm of fun and relaxation available with Naked Nights and other special events. Alternatively, Sauna Sundeck in Länggassstrasse bill themselves as a new sauna "where boys keep coming". They have attractive facilities including a dry suana, solarium, steam bath, a darkroom and gym, relaxation rooms and a sun terrace where you can sun bathe naked. They invite trans-men on Thursdays and organise a number of special promotions.

If you want something different then cruise the delightful Rose Gardens by night, just over the river up on the hill to the left of the aforementioned bear pit, or the barren Grosse Schanze parkland just behind the main station. As ever, be careful how you go and beware.

Bern is home to the annual Queersicht every November, the celebrated Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, with screenings of movies from Switzerland and around the world at cinemas across town.

We could definitely recommend gay-friendly Hotel Allegro on Kornhausstrasse, just across the river on one side of its bend - a classy 4-star designer affair with amazing rooms-with-views, a fab health spa and scrummy restaurant: easy walk to Old Town and scene, or just roll out of bed into adjoining casino. You can book online through our hotel partners Bookings

LUCERNE

Less than 40 miles east of Bern is lovely lakeside Lucerne with its antique wooden bridge, ruinous city walls and Old Town murals, plus several major art galleries, the most prominent of which is undoubtedly the amazing Rosengart Collection, crammed with Picasso and yet more Klee!

If peckish, old queer-loving Wirtshaus Taube on central Burgerstrasse cooks up authentic Lucerne specialities.

Or, to munch on high, ascend to gay-wooing Art Deco Hotel Montana - a short tram ride along by the lake and ultimately reached by its own private funicular.

This amazing hotel and restaurant offers fantastic views over Lucerne in a restored, roaring-twenties surround and is often regarded as Switzerland's finest four star city hotel.

Ski-ing near Stoos 1900m above the lake.
Photo:Robert Boesch. Courtesy:ST/swiss-image.ch

CLUBBING

Gay action happens just south of the River Reuss which flows, mid-town, into Lake Lucerne. In the heart of Neustadt, in a quiet location and right next to the Vogeligärtli is the stylish Shine Lounge, which is mixed but gay-dominated: as is the nearby club Penthouse which can be found on Pilatusstrasse just round the corner. Here, right at the top you can enjoy an aperitif under the open sky with a fabulous view of Lucerne.
The River Reuss flows into Lake Lucerne.
Photo:Christof Sonderegger. Courtesy:swiss-image.ch
If you've got the horn, steam into Discus sauna on Geissensteinring on streets behind the main station; or cruise the cottage at the southern tip of the parkland by nearby Inseliquai, on the banks of the lake, open all hours.

We can massively recommend sumptuous yet minimalist gay-friendly 5-star The Hotel on Sempacherstrasse, right next to Shine and who's lounge lobby bar is a bit of a queer haunt in its own right. Rooms all have huge images of scenes from art-house movies on their ceilings, gazing down; service is professional yet sexy; and the basement restaurant is out of this world!

For more information on Switzerland check out MySwitzerland.com or call the Switzerland Travel Centre on freephone 00800 100 200 30; alternatively, visit www.bernetourism.ch or www.luzern.org. SWISS International Air Lines fly to top Swiss destinations: www.swiss.com/uk. For details of getting around Switzerland on its legendary rail system, including the great-value Swiss Pass: www.rail.ch. Get special deals at gay-friendly hotels and book online with Bookings


THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

BERN
Aqualis (Brunnmattstrasse 21; T: 0041 (0)31 382 6969; Website)
Cinématte (Wasserwerkgasse 7; T: 0041 (0)31 312 21 22; Website)
Comeback (Rathausgasse 42; T: 0041 (0)31 311 77 13; Website)
Gaskessel (Sandrainstrasse 25; no phone; Website)
Girl and Boyshop (Gerechtigkeitsgasse 41; T: 0041 (0)31 301 28 28; Website)
HAB - Homosexuelle Arbeitsgruppen Bern (Seftigenstrasse 11; T: 0041 (0)31 311 63 53; Website
Hotel Allegro (Kornhausstrasse 3; T: 0041 (0)31 339 5500)
Kornhauskeller (Kornhausplatz 18; T: 0041 (0)31 327 7272; Website)
Lorenzini (Hotelgasse 10; T: 0041 (0)31 311 78 50; Website)
Queersicht Website
Sauna Sundeck (Länggassstrasse 65; T: 0041 (0)31 302 46 86; Website
Tolerdance (At ISC, Neubrückstrasse 10; Website)

LUCERNE
Art Deco Hotel Montana (Adligenswilerstrasse 22; T: 0041 (0)41 419 0000; Website
Discus (Geissensteinring 26; T: 0041 (0)41 360 88 77; Website)
Penthouse (At Hotel Astoria, Pilatusstrasse 29; T: 0041 (0)41 226 88 88; Website)
Shine (Sempacherstrasse 16; T: 0041 (0)41 211 26 26; Website)
The Hotel (Sempacherstrasse 14; T: 0041 (0)41 226 8686; Website)
Wirtshaus Taube (Burgerstrasse 3; T: 0041 (0)41 210 07 47; Website

Gay-friendly hotels from Bookings

Revised July 2019.

 

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