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.
There are a whole load of other little snug gems to taste the true soul of gay Brussels
too: informal Au Soleil, bashful little L'Incognito, or friendly Le Roi des Belges.
There's also a nice clutch of more continental cabaret-focused venues like Cou Cou Bar,
Le Can-Can or Chez Maman for a camp concoction of nightly 'spectacles' or DIY karaoke.
And two bars down the road from each other are the real style brace vying for gay
pretensions: saucily-named L'Homo Erectus is the newest and oh so busiest with really good music.
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, Why Not is still the main club staple in town. Although no
bigger than a medium-sized London bar, it gets cruisy enough with predator
sorts - gazing down from the gallery above onto shirtless young Flemish boys posing
and pouting for Belgium on the rostra beneath!
But it is well worth planning your entire Brussels weekend around La Démence - the
country's biggest gay club night that materialises ad lib - check their website,
below - about once a month. It attracts Belgium's finest from the surrounding
lowlands, not to mention beauty boys from across Europe - a rare little white party
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 2 sauna is the most central
and established, though newer Spades 4our gets good word-of-mouth. 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
Le Belgica (rue du Marché au Charbon 32; no phone)
Tels Quels (rue du Marché au Charbon 81; T: 0032 2 512 45 87)
Au Soleil (rue Marché au Charbon 86; 0032 2 513 34 30)
L'Incognito (rue des Pierres 36; T: 0032 2 513 37 88)
Le Roi des Belges (rue Jules Van Praet 35-37; 0032 2 513 00 24)
Cou Cou Bar (rue Jardin des Olives 8; 0032 2 511 33 36)
Le Can-Can (rue des Pierres 55; T: 0032 2 512 97 75)
Chez Maman (rue des Grandes Carmes 7; no phone)
L'Homo Erectus (rue des Pierres 57; T: 0032 2 514 74 93)
La Réserve (petite rue au Beurre 2A; 0032 2 511 66 06)
Le Baroque (Rue MarchÃ© au Charbon 44, Kolenmarktstraat)
Why Not (rue des Riche-Claires 7; T: 0032 2 512 63 43)
La Démence (rue Blaes 208; T: 0032 2 511 97 89; Website)
Macho 2 (rue du Marché au Charbon 106; T: 0032 2 513 56 67)
Spades 4our (rue Bodeghem 23/25; T: 0032 2 502 07 72)
Dolores (rue du Marché au Charbon 40; T: 0032 477 65 12 15)
Bernard Gavilan (rue des Pierres 27; T: 0032 2 502 01 28)
Les Ecrins (rue due Rouleau 15, 1000 Bruxelles, Tel: 0032 2 219 3657; Website)
Hotel Mirabeau (place Fontainas 18-20, 1000 Bruxelles, Tel: 0032 2 511 1972; Website)
Eurostar (T: 08705 186 186; Website)
Revised June 2016.