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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Brussels article click DailyXtraTravel
Click on the link for a handy PDF version of
our April 2008 Brussels travel feature!
Note: Portions of text below were updated October 2009
Chocolate, beer, and cosmopolitan conviviality
Brussels has attained celebrity status in recent decades. It's the capital of Belgium, host to the European Union's central bureaucracy, and headquarters of NATO. The city is home to over 40 museums, and is a cultural and financial center. The direct Brussels-to-London train means the city is seeing even more English-speaking visitors.
The main gay district is nearby the Place Royale, amidst rich and varied architecture.
Travel and accommodations
Hotels in Brussels are often fully-booked due to the city's role as de facto capital of Europe; hotels seem to be less busy on weekends, but book ahead if you want good value.
Residence Les Ecrins (15 rue du Rouleau) in a quiet area of Brussels, ten minutes' walk to the gay district, gay-owned serving a mixed clientele. This large century-old building surrounded by small cobbled streets, next to the beautiful St. Jean Baptiste church, has rooms ranging from standard to luxury suites, some recently renovated, and small apartments with an adjoining terrace.
Brussels @ Heart (32 rue des Commercants) an efficiently run, chic guesthouse offers spacious rooms with dining areas and small kitchenettes. Some rooms have small balconies with verdant foliage. Owner Carmelo serves breakfast of fresh juices, cheeses, ham, toast, tea, coffee, and of course chocolate. Wi-fi here is free.
La Casa BXL B&B (116, rue du Marchï¿½ au Charbon) near Grand-Place in the lively Quartier Saint-Jacques, has two double rooms with private bathrooms, and Wi-Fi connections.
Royal Windsor Hotel (5 rue Duquesnoy) with 266 rooms and suites, this hotel welcomes many gay visitors for many events such as pride and the frequent La Demence parties.
Holiday pride (53 rue du Midi) books hotel, transportation, and other travel details. Their gay pride packages include passes to gay venues, VIP tickets to the official party, and a gay info pack for Brussels. Their comprehensive website does car rentals, hotel bookings, ski-trips, travel insurance, and lets you compare flights. At his shop at the center of the gay district in Brussels, Jimmy the owner pledges to please.
La Dï¿½mence (208 rue Bleesstraaat) is a huge club with high ceilings, lots of perches and podiums and a mixed crowd of muscle men, leather types, twinks, and older guys in a highly-charged environment. People arrive here from far and wide, by the busload from Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris, and Lille. This is one of the most anticipated and exciting nights of European clubbing, so check their website for special events dates.
Naughty (52 rue des Chartreux) has a randy vibe; a hard-clubbing atmosphere with playful touches. Naughty has guests such as French porn star Francois Sagat performing with stripping combined with the use of masks and costumes.
Le Box (7 rue des Riches Claires) has top DJs boasting the best music in the city, with three venues within one big dance club at the heart of the capital. After-hours parties here continue until dawn.
At Cocoon Club (42 Chaussï¿½e de Louvain) the Sunday evening (5pm to midnight) Gay Naked Party is their claim to fame. Check upcoming special events online, some of which are for guys between 18 and 25 only.
Le You (18 rue Duquesnoy) is another nightclub option with dancing until 6am weekends, and Sunday night gay-friendly T-dances.
Los Ninos presents periodic gay-friendly party nights at various venues in Brussels and Atwerp. Click the name for website info on upcoming events.
L'Homo Erectus (57 rue des Pierres) is open daily with dancing, strip-tease naked parties, and drag shows. Every Thursday Miss Dallas presents spectacular drag shows and pageants here.
Le Boys Boudoir (rue Marche au Charbon, 25), a chic restaurant and piano bar, is open nightly. Their weekend nightclub features dancing, plus Shower Boys, Casino Nights, and drag shows among their special events.
Le Belgica (32 rue Marchï¿½ au Charbon), with 1920's dï¿½cor, is a gay-friendly pub where an international mix of artists, musicians, actors, and other creative types congregate.
Duquesnoy (12 rue Duquesnoy) is an intimate drinking and cruising bar for men only, on three floors, with dark rooms. Wear leather, latex, rubber, uniform -or nothing at all.
2b Fashion and Underwear (31 rue du Lombard) a spacious shop at the center of the gay area, offers designer jeans, tops, underwear, and accessories from names such as Calvin Klein, Andrew Christian, and Gsus, at prices to make you feel as good as you'll look.
Boris Boy (95 rue du Midi) has condoms and lubricants, toys, leather, and rubber. See theri online shop for slings, aromas, undergear, DVDs, and douches.
Argos Video (13 rue de Riches Claires) has a huge selection, three rooms, of international DVDs, clothing and leather gear, including leather thongs and underwear. Toys here include solid brass castings of gold, silver, and black cocks. Pick up flyers, magazines, and information about local clubs and events here too.
Darakan Gay Bookstore (9 rue du Midi) is a gay bookshop with literature, magazines and a cinema.
Club 3000 (9 Boulevard Jamar) is a six-floor complex ten minutes walk, south of the main gay area. It has a bar, three cinemas, a sex shop, internet station, inside and outside jacuzzi, steam sauna, and a restaurant/lounge. Outsiders can visit the "big screen" area playroom with widely-spaced iron bars dividing those in towels from those in clothes. Handsome masseurs offer their services here too.
La Griffe (41-43 rue de Dinat Street), a five minute walk from Rue de Midi, is well-equipped with a strong-jetted jacuzzi, steam, sauna, and showers. At their top level are private rooms and a communal video area, and the bar serves a drinks and home-cooked food. Each first Sunday they have a . La Griffe is open seven days a week, Friday and Saturday until midnight.
Macho Sauna (106 rue Marchï¿½ au Charbon), a large facility with pool and terrace, sauna and hammam, solarium, massage and bar/cafe, also has cabins and a mystery room for more discrete liaisons.
Sauna Oasis (10 rue van Orley) has Finnish sauna, whirlpool and massage pool, Turkish steam, cold bath and more.
Spades 4our (23-25 rue Bodeghem), a large and popular sauna, caters to a young crowd, with a roof garden and an SM catacomb.
The next big day for Brussels Pride is May 15, 2010. The St. Jacques district in the town center and the streets around Rue Marchï¿½ au Charbon will be car-free for the event. The parade from 2pm is just the beginning of all-day and all-night celebrations. At nightfall, the area around 110 Anspachlaan (de Ancienne Belgique) is usually transformed each year into a huge dance floor.
The Tels Quels Gay & Lesbian Film Festival of Belgium takes place next from January 28 to February 6, 2010, at Cinema Le Vendome (Chaussï¿½e de Wavre 18).
Pink Screens Queer Film Festival at Cinema Nova (rue d'Arenbergstraat, 3) takes place each October.
Portions of the above text were updated in October 2009.