Germany at its sauciest
NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Hamburg article click DailyXtraTravel
The text below is a 2009 edit of our archived May 2008 article, some of which is now outdated.
Click on the link for a handy PDF version of our May 2008 Hamburg travel feature!
This seaport city dishes up Germany at its sauciest!
Germany's largest port, Hamburg is a bustling metropolis on the Elbe River. It's a city famous for its vibrant nightlife, and earthy sensibilities. There lingers here, as in most old ports of call, a tolerance for pleasures of
the flesh craved by generations of sailors on leave. Rapid turn-around for container cargo-lading has cut mariners' shore time so it's not what it was when the Beatles and Chuck Berry played the Star Club. But there's
still magnificence in the fading glory of Hamburg's sleaze scene.
Much of the nightlife is concentrated in the St. Pauli area, specifically on the famous Reeperbahn. Gay people once found sanctuary and sufferance under cover of general nonconformity, and gay social life of today is
still concentrated both here and in St. Georg, the district close by the Hauptbahnhof (the main train station). This area is also a bustling, multicultural mix.
The local U-Bahn and S-Bahn metro system will get you around (all-hours on weekends) and airport buses stop in front of the main train station, (except Ryanair connections to Lubeck which terminate at the nearby
ZOB bus station).
Bars, clubs, and cafes
At the heart of the St. Georg gay village, the friendly, kinky S.L.U.T. CLUB (Rostocker Strasse 20) is a blast. Slut has a lot of regularly scheduled events, mostly sexy: such as naked parties, Sloppy Hole
fisting parties, and Mega Slut and Full Rubber nights. Their website keeps track of all this for you in both German and English. The Slut is cool enough to welcome all kinds of gay men to its jaw-dropping dens of iniquity.
Owner Thomas came up with the name while "slutting" around in Amsterdam! English-fluent, master of ceremonies extraordinaire within his realm of red-lit dark rooms, Thomas playfully keeps the party rolling, joining in
whenever he can, making Slut one of the most fun bars you'll find -- anywhere! Thomas has also appeared in porn movies himself. Slut also hosts parties all during Hamburg's Leather Week, and whenever special leather and
fetish events take place.
The nearby Strictly-Men (Danziger Strasse 51), is another bar with themes of jeans, leather, and rubber -- with a very active darkroom.
La Strada (Rostocker Strasse 8) is an unusual bar that gets going early in the evenings and is frequented by all types, including some stately older men and sharp-eyed younger ones -- perhaps just off a train from
the east, and looking for a friend. Thomaskeller (Rostocker Strasse 14) is another local basement bar with rainbow flags blazing out front.
Lange Reihe is a trendier, low-rise, villlage-like street running through St. Georg, east of Hauptbahnhof, full of cafes and shops and popular with gay and fashionable young people.
Here you'll find Cafe Gnosa (Lange Reihe 93), the grand dame of queer cafes, serving delicious food, homemade cakes, and hosting a variety of cultural events. They also have sidewalk seats. Generation (Lange Reihe 81), a slick modern hangout with big windows looking into the street and a young clientele seated at their tables chatting, drinking, or watching the passers-by. Cafe Uhrlaub (Lange Reihe 63), Central (Lange Reihe 50), and Kyti Voo (Lange Reihe 82) are three other mixed crowd bar/cafes in the area.
Bellini (Danziger Strasse 63) is a sleek little bar, just off Lange Reihe, also attracting a young and pretty gay crowd to their basement space with long, tall windows -- all the better to see who's out and about. M&V Gaststatte (Lange Reihe 22) has a pub ambiance with booth seating, cheese and sausage to go with your drinks, and a young mixed crowd that packs the place on weekends.
Three tiny (tiny!) walk-down cellar bars just off Hansaplatz are local regulars' hang-outs, each with its own unique ambiance. Daniel's Bar (Elmenreichstrasse 30) charmingly overdoes the red and pink fabric and
fairy-light festooned, low ceilings. Hip young collegiates cohabit comfortably with older guys around the bar. DJs orchestrate the mood here on weekends. Romeo (Zimmerpforte 2) is a kinda frumpy (but methinks they like
it that way) sort of place where regulars rule. At Extratour (Zimmerpforte 1), directly opposite, younger guys play darts and drink beer, amidst a decor spiced with framed photo nudes.
Jump (Pulverteich 17) is a throbbing disco with a rotation of international DJs. Below here, in the basement, open from 10 p.m., is Tom's Saloon (Pulverteich 17). This men's Levi/leather bar (since 1974) has
a popular cruisy backroom and maze called Male.
Rudi's (Steindamm 58), around the corner, sits amidst Turkish and Asian stores and takeouts, and many of the young men who come here looking to be picked up look right at home in the neighborhood.
It's just ten minutes by U-bahn (U3) from St. Georg to the St Pauli district, with it's famous Reeperbahn nightlife spilling noisily out onto the wide sidewalks. Several gay clubs here attract quite different clienteles.
You can't help but get lucky at Wunderbar (Talstrasse 14), a watering hole of hot red walls with a high-energy young crowd that gets busiest after midnight. The place is so packed on weekends that it's hard to get
to the small backroom dance floor, so folks do it where they stand.
Hasenschaukel (Silbersackstrasse 17), on the other side of Reeperbahn, has a mixed, mostly young and artsy crowd into folk and indie music, and political discourse.
A more mature mix of both men and women hang out at Toom Peerstall (Clemens-Schultz 43). A bit further from the tumultuous Reeperbahn, it's nonetheless a bustling place with a full schedule of events.
Angelica, who's in charge here, informs that this is Hamburg's longest-open gay bar. Pulverfass (Reeperbahn 147) is a longstanding show bar for female impersonation right on the main drag.
Harald's Pub /Boyscouts (Thedestrasse 2) recently reopened at this new location just north of the Reeperbahn. They no longer have hotel rooms to rent by the hour, but well-dressed, polite, and handsome young guys are still here to charm the older men who predominate.
Schmidt/Tivoli (Spielbudenplatz 27) is a large complex of venues with cabaret shows, musicals, theater, solo performances, music concerts, and more at the center of Reeperbahn nightlife.
Willi's am Rathaus (Rathausstrasse 12) is a leather-friendly mixed-gender bar at city center, midway between the two gay areas.
There are many other gay-friendly mixed bars, live music spots, comedy clubs, and dance parties: Location 1, 136 Degrees, Kir, Spundloch, Gay Factory, and Astoria Dance Hall to name a few of the latter.
For details on these and other events -- and also for maps of all of gay Hamburg -- pick up free local gay magazines Hinnerk, Schwulissimo, or the Hamburg edition of Blu.
It's nice to stay where you play, and there are several good options around St. Georg.
Best known of all Hamburg's gay hotels (but straight-friendly, too) the Hotel Koenigshof (Pulverteich 18) is a modern, stylish place located on one of St. Georg's gayest streets. Rooms
come with a choice of shared or private bathrooms, and all have TV and telephone. A delicious breakfast is included and served till noon -- in the garden courtyard, if you wish. The staff is friendly and helpful, and there's
Mr. Chaps Apartment (Greifswalder Strasse 23) is another great choice. These are self-contained, friendly digs with all the amenities of a hotel, plus a kitchen, at reasonable rates. Located right
beside the Mr. Chaps fetish toy store, the place is just a few minutes' walk to the bars, in the heart of St. Georg.
The Hotel Galerie Petersen (Lange Reihe 50) is an art-hotel extraordinaire with eclectic, distinctively furnished rooms and suites right in the middle of the Lange Reihe district.
Twenty kilometers southwest of Hamburg, right along the Elbe River, is the beautiful bed and breakfast of Gerd and Jesse Roper. This gay couple retired a few years ago to open Gay Resort Altes Land (Am Elbdeich 25). Stays in their great rooms are inexpensive and include breakfast. Visitors can rent bikes and enjoy the Elbe River scenery or take nightlife tours of Hamburg in the guesthouse van.
Shopping, kinos, saunas, and events
Mr. Chaps (Greifswalder Strasse 23) has quality leather clothing of all kinds, uniforms, military gear, rubber, and latex wear, lubes, condoms, queer knick-knacks, cock rings, and more. There's a
bargain hunter's second-hand corner here, too. Apparel is made-to-order and sold off the racks as well as from their website. They also carry just about every device and accessory needed for any fetish playtime, plus
magazines and DVDs in their maze of basement rooms. Mr. Chaps is a nerve center for Hamburg's leather/fetish community.
Mannerschwarm (Lange Reihe 102) is Hamburg's prime gay bookstore, carrying a good collection of magazines, cards, and queer books in German and English. There's fiction, history, and politics, as well as
photo books and gay comics. Their DVD and video selections include porn and gay cinema features.
Bruno's (Danziger Strasse 70), Bruno Gmunder's gay media store, has a Hamburg location with lots of porn DVDs and photo books, among their many items.
Cinemas, or kinos, sell porn DVDs and arcades in the rear showing sex videos. Displays at the front show what's playing in back before you enter. Around the Reeperbahn are: Mystery Hall (Talstrasse 3-5), with 16 movies daily in a large screen cinema and private booths; Sparta Point (Talstrasse 18); and Clemens (Clemens-Schultz-Strasse 77), a "rainbow" and gay bookstore. In St. Georg there's New Man City (Pulverteich 8), with several other such venues nearby on Steindamm.
Dragon Sauna (Pulverteich 37) has a dragon leitmotif decor throughout their extensive facilities with sauna, bar, lounge, and cruising areas. They offer full or partial body massage, and they're open daily until 10
p.m., and 24 hours on weekends. Hot meals here all day take care of any hunger pangs and there's a free pasta buffet Monday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. Specials such as Young Night Thursdays and Singles' Night Tuesdays
offer entry-price discounts.
Men's Heaven Spa (Steindamm 14) has for some time been under contruction in St. Georg. Their website is active, so check for updates. Apollo Sauna (Max-Brauer-Allee 277) at some distance away is open daily noon to 10pm.
Outdoor frolics in Hamburg are to be found, but not confined to, the Stadtpark near the planetarium, Allermoehe, near the S-Bahn station.
The annual Spike Leather Party just wrapped up August 17 2009. For future events see their website at our link. The Hamburg Gay Bikers website is another leather community resource for events.
Christopher Street Day, Hamburg pride events take place each year in late July and early August.
The 20th annual Lesbian/Gay Film Festival will screen October 21 to 26 2009. See Lsf-hamburg for details.
Info about the bear scene and upcoming events in Hamburg and nearby cities can be found at Nordbaeren-hamburg.
Walcoms has photos of gay people and events in Hamburg, and MSC Hanseat is a local leather group with updates of upcoming affairs on their website.
The gay community center in Hamburg is Magnus Hirschfeld Centrum (Borweg 8; Mhc-hamburg.de), named after the famous early 20th-century gay rights activist. Hein und Fiete (Pulverteich 21) is another local gay information and help site.
NOTE: This article was updated in August 2009. Additional listings can be found in the sidebar at the left side of this page.