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Already Czeched out Prague? No longer Hungary for Budapest? OutUK's Adrian Gillan gets wicked in Warsaw where the boys are fresh and the winters raw.
Why on earth would anyone, not least a chic gay chick, want to visit Catholic, post-Pact Warsaw - now in the EU? In the depths of winter especially, surely it's some kind of giant concrete Eastern European Hull-on-ice!

Well firstly, you'd be being different; and secondly, don't knock Hull!

It's the very fact that not everyone here has been seduced and homogenised by the latest fashions, that makes the Warsaw scene so interesting and really quite genuine.

Gay guest house Friends is near the Palace Of Culture & Science above.
Photo by Peter Visontay.
The age of consent may be 15 for all persuasions now, yet it's hardly surprising that - in the homeland of the Pope, flattened in World War Two and reshaped by the rise and fall of Communism - there is still an underground feel to the city's gay scene. There are almost no out gay public figures, celebrities or politicians in Poland, and media still rarely like to fluster the Church-going masses.

BARS & CLUBS

FanTOM on ulica Bracka is a large, sprawling basement labyrinth of porn screens, dark rooms and chill-out areas attracting men of all ages to its shadowy depths. Connected to it, on the other side of the bar, is the sizable FanTOM Sauna, continually crammed with horny Poles up for a quick steam, Jacuzzi and something quite hot.

 
Old Market Square. Photo by Peter Visontay.
Its more modern rival, the Galla Sauna, lies just to the north on ulica Ptasia and is about the same size, also simmering with Polish males, young and old.

Relatively new kid on the bar block Utopia on ulica Jasna, back near Fantom, is a light and stylish music bar-cum-club - the place for gays, strays and lesbians to preen and be seen. It's almost too trendy, but probably what the Warsaw scene needed to stir things up a bit.

CAFE CULTURE

There are also a number of great eateries where gays hang out. Central Szpilka & Szpulka on Plac Trzech Krzyzy are a pair of trendy, galleried, modern messes offering hot and cold food long after most bars have shut but gays are still going. Stop Klatka down on ulica Wspólna is a small, cosy restaurant serving traditional Polish food - worth a visit. Or further south still, Bastylia on ulica Mokotowska has turned into a right old lesbian cręperie - extremely friendly.

OUTDOOR LIFE

Because of the underground nature of the scene, it's hardly surprising a lot goes on in dark rooms, saunas and bushes. Park life is vibrant, especially during the day, but beware: nights can be dangerous, so watch out. You can readily find boys in the bushes in the magnificent Skaryszewski Park on the other side of the Vistula, not least by the lake. But the busiest outdoor action at any hour of day or night is in the parkland straddling ulica Ksiazeca east of Plac Trzech Krzyzy, a short walk from the bars.

BED & BOARD

You can also get special deals at some good and some gay-friendly hotels and book online with Booking.com

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Bastylia (ulica Mokotowska 17)
Fantom (ulica Bracka 20a, T: +48 22 828 54 09)
Fantom Sauna (same address and contacts as Fantom)
Galla Sauna (ulica Ptasia 2, T: +48 22 652 19 86)
Utopia (ulica Jasna 1, T: +44 22 827 15 40)
Szpilka & Szpulka (Plac Trzech Krzyzy 18, T: +48 22 628 91 32)
Stop Klatka (ulica Wspólna 27, T: +48 22 628 31 83)
Utopia (ulica Jasna 1, T: +44 22 827 15 40)

Revised April 2016.

 

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