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our April 2008 Antwerp travel feature!
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A multi-faceted gem of a city
Antwerp's gay bars, clubs, and saunas are scattered throughout the city, but it's a small place and easy to traverse on foot. Alternatively, trams, buses, and taxis are frequent and reasonable.
B & B 2000 guesthouse (Van Boendalestraat 8) is a gay-run bed and breakfast in the heart of Antwerp next to Franklin-Roosevelt-Plaats. All rooms have plenty of space, telephone, and swift free wi-fi connections. Bathrooms are shared. Breakfast, included in the price, is a feast of ham and cheese, fresh rolls and pastries, orange juice and coffee -and includes good conversation with the informative hosts. This guesthouse is full of homey comforts and feels like you're staying in someone's house.
At G8 Guesthouse (Geulicxstraat 8) cruising is not mandatory but highly enjoyable and encouraged. One room is a double and the other a dormitory with four beds where each person has their own lock-up and a barracks-style wardrobe. The bathroom is big enough to fit more than one at a time. Simple house-rules here encourage fun and freedom, and people walk around in various attires, including leather, rubber and uniform.
B&B Villa T (Verversrui 17/19) is a penthouse with modern rooms and a big terrace overlooking the city where breakfast is served.
Guesthouse Leman (Generaal Lemanstraat 16), in an 1880 house at the southern end of Antwerp easily reached by tram or train, has a large modern and luxurious two room suite.
The Hotel Agora (Koningin Astridplein 43) is a mixed but gay-friendly small modern three story hotel at the very center of Antwerp.
Bars and clubs
Oink Oink Bar & Oink Club (Van Schoonbekeplein 3), just off the Brouwersvliet main road, has two distinct atmospheres depending on the time of day. A mixed crowd comes for laid-back daytime drinking and dining. Events vary from week to week but each fourth Sunday their buffet offers cakes, fruit and sandwiches. After dark the curtains close and the vibe changes to hard cruising for men only. The ground floor has a small dance floor and there are private and communal play spaces up the narrow stairway. Their red sling room has wash facilities adjacent.
Red & Blue (Lange Schipperskapelstraat 11-13) is a Thursday through Sunday dance club with a big Saturday evening full of color, people and atmosphere for men only, with go-go boys wearing lavish sexy costumes from leather to feathers... or hardly anything at all. A revolving cage full of dancers moves across the dance floor. A small upstairs restaurant serves snacks. Sunday nights are packed too, and they have lots of special nights on their calendar -see the website.
Kinky's (Lange Beeldekensstaat 10) is just round the back of Central Station, or "Railway Cathedral." This bar hosts many fetish events. When I popped in even the barman was stark naked! All nights are naked optional, but the dress code otherwise is jockstraps, slips or chaps. Lockers, showers and towels are included in the 7.50 euro price of entry.
Boots (Aerdtstraat 22) is for those into leather, rubber, skin, uniforms, sportswear and fetish. Check their website for upcoming highlights and for the dresscode of the night. S.O.B. and Fuckslut afternoons have the strictest rules of attire.
Rubbzz (28 GeulincxstraatS) is a sex club in a former warehouse with a rough industrial setting. Open daily except Monday, their live DJs, fetish, and skin events are not for the timid.
Some other clubs and bars to consider:
Body Boys (42 Van Schoonhovenstraat) a playfully edgy place with a crowd of diverse ages and types, mostly young, randy, and male;
Cafe Que Pasa (1 Lange Koepoortstraat) a locals bar, daily except Mondays with drag and talent shows;
Cafe de Love (Lange Schipperskapelstraat 11-13) women's dance club and lounge;
Cafe Raoul (van Schoonhovenstraat 40) a new neighborhood bar;
d-club (27 Damplein) a big and fashionable dance club and cocktail lounge, Thursdays through Mondays, with male strippers and many party specials;
Hessenhuis Cafï¿½ (53 Falconrui) dance club and bar, daily from 11pm with theme nights, shows and go-go boys;
Popi Cafe (12 Plantinkaai) open daily from 11am for lunch, coffee, beer and fine whiskeys, with terrace; and
TwiLight (54 Van Schoonhovenstraat) with a casual, mostly male crowd, occasional drag shows and special parties.
Sauna ï¿½t Badhuis (Florisstraat 10), opposite Stads Park, is a busy locals' favorite for sexual frolics, but relaxing and talking over beer and wine is equally popular. Facilities include a large pool, jacuzzi, steam, and sauna room, plus private and cruising areas. On Fridays and Saturdays they're open all night until 6am.
Sauna 't Herenhuis (63 De Lescluzestraat) has homey compfort to relax, with facilities that include jacuzzi, swimming pool, dry and steam saunas, video lounge, and bar.
Sauna Kouros (Botermelkbaan 50) about 30 minutes by bus out of Antwerp in Schoten, is a huge, grand sauna facility with inside and outdoors pools, sunbathing areas and gardens, steam and dry saunas, bar and restaurant. To get there, take an inexpensive and scenic ride on bus number 610 from Rooseveltplaats to the Schoten stop - ask your driver if unsure.
More sex, and shopping
boekhandel 't Verschil (33 Minderbroedersrui) gay and lesbian bookstore has a vast selection of fiction and non-fiction, photo books, plus both gay cinema and hard-core DVDs.
Gay Ron (54 Van Wesenbekestraat) vends gay DVDs and has peep shows and private cabins for a good mix of young and old who come here.
De Onderkant (Minderbroedersrui 42), and Toys-4-Boys (Nosestraat 6) each has fashions and fetish items. Click their names for website links.
Early in the year Antwerp Leather Pride will take place January 21 through 25, 2010, with events that pull guys from all over the region.
Antwerp is Europe's second largest harbor after Rotterdam. So it's small wonder the city celebrates with a huge gay festival each year called Navigaytion (next date: June 26, 2010). The event sets off with party boats sailing around the harbor, and there's a big stage for dancing on shore. It's all part of the festivities for Antwerp Pride, scheduled next for June 24 through 27, 2010.
Restaurants and Information
For some gay-friendly restaurants to sample, most with websites, click here.
For general gay information, see Gay Antwerp
Portions of this text were updated in October 2009.