What makes a hotel gay friendly?
This is all many moons ago. Our relationship survived its foray into the British countryside and we have deleted the memory of the shuffling and uncomfortable owner of the bijou hotel in the Lake District whose discomfort with us was never communicated but clear for us to feel. We prefer to remember the wonderful hotels, owned and run, by warm, friendly and caring people with nothing but complete respect for us and our relationship: The romantic Chateau in France where we shared five courses of exquisite food and bountiful wine with the owners or the funky urban chic country house in Devon whose youthful owners were very proud of their gay guests and not in a pink pound kind of way.
We are often asked what ‘makes a hotel gay friendly’. For me the main clue is in the word ‘friendly’. I don’t need a constant corporate smile and I don’t need my towels tying into flamingos. I do however expect to be treated with the same respect as other guests and their partners, and want to be made to feel relaxed and comfortable from the get go.
There is training out there to help hotels and their staff put gay travellers at their ease, avoid the wrong language and daft questions, and while that may help, it is really the ethos and values of the people who run and manage the hotel which are crucial. For me it is about whether they are genuinely gay welcoming or are they just ‘box ticking’, and are they mindful of the fact that three out of four gay travellers are worried about the reception they will receive at their holiday accommodation (OUT NOW CONSULTING 2009).
At FURTHER AFIELD we aim to meet the owners to find out what makes them tick as well as checking out the hotel for quality and personality. Many of our places to stay are gay owned but not all, and what unites them is an insightful approach and genuine welcome for all gay travellers.
But always, whenever we go to view a new hotel and meet the owners I have in the back of my mind, Andrew and myself arriving at a hotel in the Lake District after knowing each other for just a short time….younger, shyer and slightly less sure than we are today, and I want to understand how will they be greeted and treated.