Europe is a big place, and finding a gay-friendly hotel can be a potential minefield with so many cultures, languages and religious backgrounds – things that often vary not only from country to country, but from town to town and island to island.
Luckily there are people that can help! Like Zenios Zeniou from destsetters. I spoke to the handsome Greek about his top tips for gay travellers…
DH: What is destsetters and how did it all start?
ZZ: Destsetters is an online travel channel that recommends the best gay-suggested hotels for gay and lesbian travellers. We got tired of reading about ‘Gay-Friendly’ hotels that were just using the term to attract more visitors.
Our wide range of hotels from all over the word have been verified by our team as being genuinely Gay-Friendly properties, providing the expected level of service and facilities, avoiding any discrimination by the hotel staff, negative or positive.
DH: What’s the main challenge you think gay guys come across when looking for a place to stay in Europe?
ZZ: I think the most common experience we have all had in hotels in Europe is that look of surprise on some receptionists’ faces when they realise that two guys want one room with a double bed!
One of the most serious mistakes of the hotels, is that they claim to be ‘Gay-Friendly’, but forget to provide the relevant training to their employees – so the hotel owner or the hotel manager is Gay-Friendly, but the waiter at the restaurant or the lady at the reception might not be as ‘friendly’ as expected. Or, sometimes, might be more friendly than they are supposed to be!
DH: What are your top gay-friendly destinations?
ZZ: There are so many places I love! I absolutely adore Santorini island in Greece, as well as Thessaloniki city in the northern part of the country, for more quiet and ‘romantic’ holidays.
Cities like Berlin, Canary Islands and Prague are perfect for fun and nightlife, while countries like Cyprus and Turkey are my top choices for relaxing holidays or for dream honeymoon trips!
DH: And places to avoid?…
ZZ: I wouldn’t say that there are places to avoid – you just need to adjust in every place you visit, according to the culture and habits of the local people.
Regardless of the reason you are travelling or the person you are travelling with, you always have to respect the destination you are visiting. For example, if you visit the UAE you know that you have to respect the strong local religion.
But the same thing happens with women that visit the country – they have to adjust their dress code accordingly. If you plan to travel with your partner and want to express yourself freely, then it might be better to avoid countries that still have laws against homosexuality or places where people are known to be aggressive and narrow-minded.
DH: What should I do if I feel like staff are acting in a homophobic manner?
ZZ: You should definitely contact the hotel management and inform them about any homophobic incident or behaviour you have come across, either to you or to another guest. The manager of an actually Gay-Friendly hotel (like all destsetters properties) will know how to handle this situation and support the ‘all welcome’ mentality of the business.
If you realise that the management of the hotel is also homophobic, then this hotel is definitely not the right choice for you or the upcoming gay guests – so make sure that you inform them accordingly through the various online tools!
DH: What are your top three gay or gay-friendly hotels in Europe?
ZZ: My personal favourites are:
For your most romantic holidays: Above Blue Suites in Santorini, Greece
For your most luxurious & Royal experience: Chateau Heralec Boutique Hotel & Spa
For your most alternative holiday trip: Zmar Eco Campo