by Thomas Abeltshauser
Sill undecided? The gay capital of Eastern Europe attracts with a pleasant gay scene, great architecture and affordable luxury hotels.
Twenty years after the Velvet Revolution, a gay scene has established in Prague that is unrivalled in all of Eastern Europe and can compete with many a western metropolis. In 2009 alone, more than half a dozen new bars and clubs opened, and legislation has improved at lot as well. Czech parliament pushed through the registered partnership for homosexuals against the vote of conservative President Vaclav Klaus four years ago.
The new openness is also visible in the streets. Vinohrady, the trendy district of the Czech capital, is a flirting and partying hotspot in summer without anyone being offended. There are naturally some touristy musts like the Old Town with Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square, St Vitus Cathedral, Jewish Quarter, Prague Castle and Golden Lane, almost completely spared during Second World War. Prague is without any exaggeration one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but you can easily spend an entire long weekend within the gay scene. One of the oldest gay bars – and still the most popular in the Old Town – is Friends.
Just around the corner is the chic KU Bar with its cute waiters and a rather young crowd. The Piano Bar looks like a typical Prague beer bar and rather attracts men over 30. The music is especially funny: Czech schlager and retro kitsch. Saints is a bit more diverse. The bar, run by two Brits, is also the meeting palce for many gay expats and tourists. Celebrity Cafe and its excellent Czech cuisine and great pasta dishes is generally regarded as the best gay restaurant. If you do not care about the sexual orientation of the chef, you can find even better places for dinner.
Hergetova cihelna is located in an old brickworks with a breathtaking view of Charles Bridge and offers Czech dishes and very good seafood. Restaurant Celeste on the roof of the Dancing House (Tančící dům), a building designed by Frank Gehry on the banks of Vltava river, does not offer Czech cuisine. First-class French food is served in a modern environment, that is the same high quality as in Paris, but lot more affordable.
The digestif is best be enjoyed in hip sky bar Cloud 9 on the roof of Hilton Hotel. The view on the city of Prague is breathtaking and the cocktails are outstanding. You will not find many gay parties in Prague, but you can have fun at any one of them. Lollypop, which usually takes place on the fourth Friday of a month at Club Radost FX, has been an institution of the gay party crowd for years. Hardly any young gay from Prague misses it. Valentino has been a genuine gay club since it opened at the end of 2005. Four bars on three floors and two darkrooms make this biggest joint in the Czech Republic quite a maze.
Termix is the smaller and more intimate of the two gay clubss. Czech dance beats dominate here and turn the heat up on Wednesdays. And when it has clicked between tow guys on the dance floor or at the bar, the darkroom can be found nearby. Prague has also been able to match other world metropolises in terms of hotels. One of the most exciting newcomers is the five-star boutique hotel Buddha-Bar Hotel, where the Prague jet set is enjoying itself in the trendy Bar Lounge. The Augustine by The Rocco Forte Collection also has five stars, as does the Elephant Prague design hotel, which is located in an aristocratic baroque residence.
HOW TO GET THERE
Czech Airlines offers direct flights from eight German cities, from some twice or three times a day. The hours of departure are ideal. Especially weekend travellers value the early departures from Germany and late returns to Germany. Business Class pasengers are offered a free taxi transfer between Prague airport and a popular destination downtown,
CD and DB. Depending from where you travel in Germany it might be faster and easier to go by train. There are direct services from Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and IC Bus from Nuremberg. Special fares are available from 29 Euros one-way. DB Deutsche Bahn and CD Ceské Drahy offer the international services in cooperation.