Gregg Homme
Chocolate and cheese, mountains and lakes, money and men: OutUK’s Adrian Gillan is far from neutral over the dazzling gay Swiss hub that is Zurich, often voted the world’s best city to live in.
Expensive: but worth it! Zurich gobbles money up as quickly as it makes it, with prices at least a third higher than even London.

But, perched on the Zurichsee at the mouth of the Limmat, it’s no mere financial centre and is unquestionably the gay capital of Switzerland.

The stunning view from the Quai Bridge on the Limmat river at night.
As is often the way, the gay quarter is located in the old part of town, between the grand main station and the sparkling waterfront. Amid narrow sloping streets and market squares and echoing faintly to the gentle toll of church bells, nothing is much more than a five minute stroll from anything else.

BARS & CAFES

Graze out with the gay bears at the Marion Bistro that sprawls out onto Zahringerplatz or prowl over the road to the Predigerhof Bistro Bar if you want less of the snack and more of the drink. Three of the most stylish bars in town are actually more mixed by day and queer by night.
Zurich offers a wonderful array of places to drink and eat.
Cafe Odeon down by the Limmat Quai is a cosy ‘n chic wood, steel and leather affair that attracts a young, arty crowd, often fresh out from the opera down the road. And both the Lobby and Barfüsser back in the old heart are so chic it almost hurts, with a comfy array of stools and sofas, beers and candlelit cocktails. Barfüsser used to be the oldest gay bar in Switzerland - maybe even Europe - before becoming a leather club and then being reinvented as a red-decked busy Japanese restaurant for sushi & sashimi, with cocktail menu, lounge & outdoor seats.

Just a few streets away is the real gay cocktail palace in town. Cranberry is less warm and ambient than the other bars, yet rather more fruity and fresh and 100% gay 24/7. But beware - even a small Sea Breeze will set you back seven or eight pounds.

But if you want something a bit more friendly and regular on the gay bar front, walk five minutes north to the Tip Top Z Bar on Seilergraben - a newly revamped, yet small and cosy room-with-bar where the hearty, bearded manager does his very best to ensure everyone knows at least something about everyone else in the house as he does his rounds. They also do a good small-hour, post-club breakfast.

Or back near the Marion, try the Dynasty Club - probably the most mainstream gay fayre in town, spread over two levels, again with very friendly bar staff and a limitless supply of popcorn laid on all through the night.

If you want to be hustled, try the Carrousel boy bar a few doors down the road.

CLUBBING

T&M Disco is a cross between G-A-Y and your gay village local. An amazing interior of gargoyles, cherubs, winged angels, chandeliers and church pews make this a must; as do its weekend cabaret shows that are - famously - either brilliant or so awful and under-rehearsed you’ll laugh out loud anyway.
Zurich is a very liberal city and it's annual Street Parade, a celebration of love, freedom, generosity and tolerance has grown to be an event of mammoth proportions with 750,000 people taking part.
T&M does get busy with a young, fun crowd after midnight who dance to pure cheese downstairs, or hike upstairs for some trancier sounds and to flit around a maze of cabins and darkened rooms.

Those after a slightly more sophisticated weekend club head a mile or so out west of centre to the Labyrinth for a mix of trance and tribal beats on the main floor amidst polls and palms; and an interesting warren of comfy sofas and darker curtained spaces on the floor above.

ALL STEAMED UP

There are at least half a dozen gay saunas in Zurich, but the best known and most central are the Paragon (again, near the Marion) and the Apollo, although the former has a bit of a reputation for attracting rent boys during the day if that’s your want. The lovely Arboretum park, a ten minute amble from the gay district around the bay is a well-known place for evening cruising. Macho Cityshop (yet again, back by Marion) sells the usual pile of pink pap and queer trash.

STAYING

Goldenes Schwert is one of Zurich’s best gay-friendly hotels, and OutUK's online Bookings service has a selection of other gay-friendly mainstream hotels in all price ranges at special discount rates.

Gay-friendly hotels from Bookings

Zurich is a great place for lovers, not just clubbers.

Browse the world-class Kunsthaus gallery, especially its fine collection of impressionist and early twentieth century paintings...sit and gaze down on the town from the lofty Lindenhof terrace...or just drift aimlessly around the bay promenade of that mighty lake.
Photography courtesy ST/swiss-image.ch

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Marion Bistro (Muhlegasse 22; T: 0041 (0) 1 261 2726)
Predigerhof Bistro Bar (Mühlegasse 15; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 2985)
Cafe Odeon (Limmatquai 2; no phone)
Lobby Bar (Spitalgasse 3; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 2725)
Barfüsser (Spitalgasse 14; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 4064)
Cranberry (Metzgergasse 3; T: 0041 (0) 1 261 2772)
Tip Top Z Bar (Seilergraben 13; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 7822)
Dynasty Club (Zähringerstr. 11; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 4756)
Carrousel (Zähringerstr. 33; T: 0041 (0) 1 253 6202)
T&M Disco (Marktgasse 14; T: 0041 (0) 1 266 1818) Website
Labyrinth Club (Pfingstweidstrasse 70; T: 0041 (0) 1 440 5980)
Paragon Sauna (Mühlegasse 11; T: 0041 (0) 1 252 6666)
Apollo Sauna (Seilergraben 41; T: 0041 (0) 1 261 4952)
Macho Cityshop (Häringstr. 16; T: 0041 (0) 1 251 1222)
Hotel Goldenes Schwert (Marktgasse 14; T: 0041 (0) 1 266 1818)


Revised March 2016

 

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