London: The Official Gay and Lesbian Guide 2007/08
Photos Courtesy VisitLondon.com (1,3), Kenji-Baptiste Oikawa (2), David Iliff (4,5)
Story by Olga Bas
Although 2008 is drawing to a close, it would be a shame to pass up plugging the Mayor-endorsed, Gay.com-sponsored, official visitor’s organization-produced "Official Gay and Lesbian Guide 2007/2008” for the city of London. Full of glossy pictures and exciting and extensive information on one of biggest gay capitals of the word, it is bound to stay relevant beyond the years indicated.
Must-see destinations are helpfully organized in tours by geographic location. For example, the London Eye Tour encompasses the famous Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, or you can relive dramatic history by seeing a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater (then move on to the West End for more current, Mamma Mia!-type shows). They also list plenty of things to do free of charge, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern and all the city’s many parks (considering the gut-wrenching exchange rate to the pound, you may want to closely regulate your pence).
The guide gives broad hotel suggestions, such as a life of luxury at The Dorchester or the new Haymarket Hotel, while those on a budget (or who would rather splurge on shopping) Piccadilly Backpackers will cover all basic needs for 12 pounds a night. Of course, a plethora of shopping tips and listings are offered: Camden Market, for example is perfect for everything vintage including army surplus stores and boutiques with outrageous pants, while TopShop, on High Street -- though catwalk inspired -- is reasonably priced.
You can depend on the experts to offer the traditional and the ultra-modern all with a gay spin in their food and drink section: for example, a trip to the Albion is good for a hearty British meal, while Coffee, Cake and Kink, a café and erotic gallery was dubbed “the best thing since strap-ons and sliced bread.”
Luckily for us hapless voyagers, London’s extensive gay nightlife scene is outlined in all its diversity. Soho lesbian favorite Candy Bar “can get crazy when the strippers get in,” while the Black Cap is a legendary drag spot in Camden Town, or try Coleherne for the leather enthusiasts. Of course, legendary clubs like G-A-Y are also represented.
In the back is a list of essential information about airports, public transportation, and useful maps. The guide even has a section on the optimal places to get married: Since civil partnerships became legal, several establishments offer their services. Imagine your wedding on the London Eye, if you wish to tie the knot 135m (443 ft.) in the air.