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 Travel Article Travel Article Archive  
September 2009 Email this to a friend

Prague

By Staff reports

Temple, Prague
At Temple

We Have
99
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Prague!

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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Prague article click DailyXtraTravel

Click on the link for a handy PDF version
of our August 2008 Prague travel feature!
Text below was updated Sept 2009

Still among Europe's top tourist draws, the beauty of this city -- and its inhabitants -- make it a 'must see' for gay adventurers

Capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is an architectural gem. With a millennium of history carved in stone, "the city of 100 spires" is a fairytale-like wonderland on the Vltava River.

Circumstances of history preserved Prague's buildings and forged unique intellectual and cultural perspectives during centuries at the crossroads of European civilization. Today's travelers venturing just a little off the beaten path can have some surprisingly exotic encounters. Excesses of the post-Soviet-era influx have damped initial Czech euphoria at rejoining the Western mainstream, and a long history of foreign dominations make people wary of losing their culture. So, outside the gay or tourist areas, you'll find fewer bi- or multi-lingual . But there's reason for the bon vivant connotations of "Bohemian": find a common tongue, or improvise, and over a few beers you'll have some truly engaging experiences.

Other sorts of intercourse require fewer language skills. Sexual conformity of the Anglo-Saxon variety is far less common here, so with less individual angst and general fuss about sex or nudity, the cultural divide is often bridged with little more than a glance. Straight and gay worlds are more integrated so gay infrastructures and political identities common elsewhere in the West aren't seen here so much. Bars, cafes, and relationships are far less likely to be labeled one way or another, and public spaces here remain much as they were once in America -- still cruisy and not so rigorously controlled. With a modicum of courtesy you're unlikely to offend anyone by taking an interest in them, sexually or otherwise.

But wherever the line is drawn, Prague has by far the largest, most stylish, and most international nightlife for gay people in Eastern Europe, and Czechs do like to party. Often as strikingly handsome as guys in a Bel Ami video, they're an outgoing, uninhibited, and refreshingly forthright people.

With all this, plus lively arts offerings and beautiful countryside to explore outside the capital, a wonderfully rich European vacation/adventure awaits in the Czech Republic. Prague prices, while higher than in recent years, still compare favorably to those elsewhere in western Europe, particularly for food and beer.

Going out

Most of the businesses we list can be walked to from four green line Metro stops: Mustek and Muzeum, and to the east, the Namesti Miru and Jiriho z Podebrad stations. Tram cars go most everywhere in the city, and 20 or 75 minute single-trip or one- to five-day pass tickets can be purchased at Metro stations or convenience stores. Many of the tram lines have night service after midnight, and departure times are listed at the stops.

And speaking of tickets, at bars that hand you a drink ticket be sure not to lose it, or there's a penalty charge.

Saints (Polska 32) -- a cozy bar with comfy lounge sitting areas, friendly staff, and no attitude -- is at the heart of the gayest district close to the most popular dance clubs. It's a good place to begin your trip , and an easy place to meet people at the start or the finish of any night out. Saints is open daily 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. with free wi-fi, and all their staff is English-speaking and well-informed, so you'll quickly feel at home. Many in the large expatriate community call this their home pub, and Czechs looking to meet visitors and to practice their English also hang out here. Their website is a useful resource with gay guide and map.

Friends (Bartolomejska 11), amidst the maze of narrow car-free streets of Old Town, is a long-time Prague favorite that pulls both tourists and a young and energetic crowd of locals, with periodic special parties that fill up their dance floor. A rotation of DJs plays a variety of music types. Opening time can be fluid, usually by 6 p.m., and on weekends they can go until 5 a.m.

Early-opening venues include: Caf� Muzeum (Mezibranska 19), just above Vaclavske Namesti (Wenceslas Square), a small casual, early place for conversation around cafe tables, with beer prices from 22 crowns; U Rudolfa (Mezibranska 3), another favorite locals pub from 4 p.m.; and Strelec (Zitna 51) from 5 p.m., a new Czech gay beer pub. Kafirna U Ceskeho Pana (Kozi 13) is one of Prague's oldest, most authentically Czech early-hours hangouts.

Bar 21 (Rimska 21) is a stylish cafe cellar bar at the end of a gated alley. Laid back and cool, it's a place to relax with old friends or to meet new ones over inexpensive beers, daily 4 p.m. to 4am. Bar 21 also features art exhibitions.

Several mixed-crowd cafes figure in the local gay universe: Cafe Cafe (Rytirska 10), with sidewalk tables along a pedestrian street of the old city, and attracting gay couples with tasty pastries and coffee amidst walls of celebrity photos; Cafe Nordica (Zlatnicka 10), offering a bit of Scandinavia, with sandwiches and great breakfasts daily from 9 a.m. (9:30 Sundays); and Erra (Konviktska 11), a popular and inexpensive cafe-bar and restaurant on two levels, open 10 a.m. to midnight.

Lehka Hlava (Borsov 280/2), or "Clear Head," is a recommended veggie/vegan restaurant in Old Town, with menu online.

Women gather at many of the above mixed cafes, but JampaDampa (V Tunich 10) is more favored than most.

Other bars include: Latimerie Club Cafe (Slezska 74), with a cafe; KU Bar (Rytirska 13), a trendy mixed bar in Old Town with eye-candy staff; Piano Bar (Milesevska 10), with an older Czech crowd; Tingl Tangl (Karoliny Svetle 12), an Old Town pub/restaurant with drag shows; and Stella Club (Luzicka 10), a longtime Prague cruising bar where Czechs, expats, and tourists mingle till 5 a.m. most nights, and where it's said you can roll one up and smoke it without creating a fuss.

Alcatraz S&M Club (Borivojova 58) has a gay pub (open 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.) above a leather/uniform/rubber sex club that's open daily from 10 p.m., and features dark rooms, video cabins, fetish areas, a sling, cage, and showers. They have Thursday night naked parties from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Radost (Belehradska 120) is a mostly-straight basement dance club, but their first-Friday party Lollipop is a well-attended gay disco. Their vegetarian and vegan restaurant at street level is probably the best of its kind in Prague, with a wide variety of cuisines served in three comfortable and stylish rooms. Their American-style, heaping plates weekend brunches (served from 10:30 a.m.) are popular. English is spoken here, and they have wi-fi, too.

Valentino (Vinohradska 40) is Prague's current gay mega-club, the largest in the Czech Republic. With bars and cafes on three levels and a summertime terrace, Valentino boasts two discos: a small, more Czech-favored one at mid-level, and a larger downstairs dance floor with a long and spacious lounge. There's dancing until 5 a.m., and they can get packed to the walls on the weekends. There are darkrooms here too, and a subterranean cruising labyrinth that snakes through old stone walled caverns below. Warnings to avoid entering with valuables should be heeded or a moment of ecstatic distraction might cost you plenty. Also, some younger guys offering sexual favors are here to make a little money, too. Their street-level Celebrity Cafe (Vinohradska 40) is a full-menu restaurant and bar, open from 8 a.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends, providing one of the few afternoon meeting places of its type on this side of town.

Termix (Trebizskeho 4), the other popular gay dance venue, has lounges, a small disco, and a darkroom with access right through the men's toilet! Again, some of the younger guys here are casually commercial, too. Open Wednesday to Sunday until 5 a.m. they're busiest on weekends and on Wednesday nights when they pack in the young local guys for their Czech music night.

Pink Star is a now-and-then gay dance event to look out for at Celnice Club (V Celnici 4), which is otherwise straight.

Getting off

Sex-work and its promotion is legal for those over 18 in the Czech Republic, and Prague has two comfortable nightclubs in which to meet hustlers, often students or young laborers looking for extra cash, or new arrivals from parts further east. The clubs try to filter out the troublesome guys, but even angels can be tempted, so agree on prices upfront and keep your valuables and your wits about you so everyone stays happy. The Czech HIV-infection rate is low, but always play safe, and help keep it so.

Escape to Paradise (V Jame 8) is a popular place for international visitors. Their non-stop shows begin at 10 p.m., with young men dancing on stage, scantily clad or naked, performing with erotic exuberance. Solo or double, and sometimes oiled, they provide much more than just bump, grind, and pose. All the many dancers here (around 20 or so a night) can be approached for some private entertainment back at your hotel or simply for a snuggle (with drinks on you), on the comfy couches as you watch the show.

Temple (Seifertova 32/3) replaced the old Pinocchio this year. This long stone-walled basement bar has been refurbished and has lots of comfortable seating around booth tables or on plush couches. A separate candle-lit lounge is a quiet retreat off to the side of the main bar. The young guys here take their cues from you with eye contact or greetings, and the atmosphere is relaxed and without pressure. Naked dancer shows start at 11 p.m. and continue at 45 minute intervals throughout the evening on weekends. Above, with entrance on the main street, their Temple Hotel offers rooms and a suite for rent. As many of the guys working at Temple stay here, you might bump into some of them in the communal shower area (private shower rooms are optional).

Monty's (Seifertova) is a small bar and lounge with umbrella-shaded sidewalk tables just by Temple Hotel. Many of the same guys hang out here casually in the early evening before things get going at Temple, and the beer is inexpensive, too.

Babylonia (Martinska 6), open daily from 2 p.m. to 3 a.m., is Prague's largest gay sauna with steam, whirlpool, gay cinema, cubicles for private dalliances, fitness room, and bar. Massage is available, too.

Two other tubs with bars and steamy amenities are Sauna David (Sokolovska 44), with a somewhat older crowd, and Sauna Marco (Lublanska 17), with a mainly Czech clientele and a wider age range.

Across the river, Drake's (Zborovska 50) is a large cellar bar and sex club with video booths, play rooms, stripper shows, and porn videos everywhere. The 190 crown cover (waived for 18- to 25-year-olds) is good for 24 hours of sexual opportunities, and they never close.

Area porn shops include: City Fox (Pribenicka 12) which sells and rents videos they produce with Czech locals, along with a large range of other DVDs, toys, magazines and lubes; and Heaven (Gorazdova 11) with 3,000 DVDs for sale and rent, along with other sex shop stuff, plus darkrooms, video cabins, and a bar.

Accommodations and tours

Mysteria Apartments (+420-777-944-781) has a selection of private apartments in sizes from studios to four bedroom penthouses, all located in the center of Prague, with prices to suit all budgets. Some accommodations offer spectacular views, and most come equipped with computers and broadband internet access. Ask about their expanded service packages. Andy, the British owner, is a trove of information about the scene in Prague, from the sights to the restaurant options -- and, of course, all about the gay scene, too. Mysteria offers chauffer-driven airport transfers, and they do guided gay tours throughout the Czech Republic.

The English-speaking guys who own the bar Prague Saints (Polska 32) are a great resource when planning your Prague vacation. Their website has one of the most comprehensive guides to the local gay scene, and their staff is happy to answer any questions you might have about Prague. For accommodations in the city they offer a selection of private apartments in and around the gay districts of Vinohrady and Zizkov as well as airport transfers. A range of private gay tours around Prague by day or night, as well as to destinations outside the capital city, is another of their services.

Open year-round, Prague Center Guest Residences (Zahoranskeho 5; +420-723-011-588) has five private gay apartments and a shared gay guest residence. Stylishly furnished, and all located in the city center, the apartments range in size from studios to three-bedrooms. Bob, the American owner, has been providing guests with area information for over nine years, and he also offers airport transfers and Czech tour guides.

Villa Mansland (Stepnicna 9-11; 420-777-839-733) is a gay hotel just outside the town center, and easily accessible by metro (Ladvi station) or tram (#10 or 16 to Stepnicna stop). Mansland has a restaurant, bar, summer terrace, sauna, and whirlpool, with a verdant and peaceful garden in the back. Massage is available, and young local guys are usually hanging around, easily met. Harry, the German owner, is almost always on site to see to your every need.

Nouvum Garden (Zernovska 1195/2; +420-274-773-464), just to the east of downtown, is a new 11-room gay guesthouse with satellite TV and broadband internet, a steamroom, jacuzzi, massage services, sun bed, and also a bar.

Ron's Guest House (Bulharska 4; +420-271-725-664) is a six-room guest house close to the center, with comfortable, clean, moderately priced rooms. Long-time American expat Ron provides a welcoming introduction to all of his guests.

Also see websites Come2prague.com for apartment information and Honilek.cz and PragueGayCity for more apartment information and a gay guides to Prague.

Thomas Tours (+420-775-347-770) provides tours of Prague and the Czech countryside individually tailored to your tastes. Thomas, the young Czech who runs these tours, is charming, and informative.

See Life is a cabaret by Mircea Ticudean for another perspective on Prague.

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