PRIDE OF THE ALPS
Zurich may be where the world comes to bank, but it’s also where the world comes to meet hot gays and lesbians. And never more so than in May/June of 2009, when Switzerland’s biggest city will play host to the continent’s biggest lesbian and gay party, the 40th anniversary of Europride.
Since most of Europe can get here by train or plane in the time it takes to nurse a cocktail, Zurich should be a big draw for queer folk from Paris to Prague. Add the welcoming social and political climate -- as any good gay here will tell you, the people of Switzerland are the only country to vote in nationwide referendum in favor of legalizing same-sex civil unions -- and Europride 2009 is likely to be a queerfest to remember.
What the world will find when it arrives is the liveliest gay nightlife in all of Switzerland. Think Berlin’s little brother: not quite as wild, but prettier and just as hot. The simmer begins at hip Cranberry Bar, Lobby Bar, or venerable Barfüsser in the city’s old town, then reaches full boil in clubs like Labor-Bar and Labyrinth in Zurich-West. Leather lads get things scorching nearby at Magnusbar , and guys burn up in the “dark rooms” of Rage . Cool rules on Sunday nights at Long Street Bar on Langstrasse, where the funky, fun Sonntagsschule gay party unfolds amid the hookers of this seediest part of town.
Bahnhofstrasse, on the other hand, is anything but seedy; every international purveyor of luxury goods hawks their wares on this main boulevard (but not on Sundays, when nearly all stores are shuttered and Zurich is a decidedly sleep town). To unwind in similar luxe style, the wow factor at the five-star Dolder Grand hotel is hard to beat: Old world architecture and ultramodern design combine with hilltop views of Lake Zurich, expansive woodlands, and a spa that redefines the word. In the heart of Zurich, the Widder Hotel gives the Dolder Grand a run for your money (about US$3,500 a night) with its famed Widder Bar, boasting over 250 varieties of single malt whisky.
If the number of your Swiss bank account has momentarily slipped your mind, try either the Hotel Plattenhof or the Engimatt, the only hotel in town with its own tennis court, for a more affordable stay without sacrificing style. Dine at Engimatt’s airy Restaurant Orangerie, or try traditional fare at lesbian-owned-and-operated Alpenrose, on Fabrikstrasse. The G-Hotel has the advantage of lying In the middle of the old town -- and the gay action. It’s a great place to stash the sweet thing you picked up on Bahnhofstrasse -- meaning the delicately delicious Luxemburgerli you bought at chocolatier Sprüngli, of course.